This course address these questions and more: Where does our food come from? What are the social, political, environmental, and public health roots and consequences of the industrialized world food system? Who wins and who loses? What are the trends? To what extent are non-state actors altering the world political system? How is climate change likely to impact the world food system? In particular, we will focus on the pivotal role of petroleum in the world food system, the global carbon and nitrogen cycles, the questions of meat and genetically modified food, and new food movements around the world. How does our planetary food web challenge our sense of personal identity and ethical responsibility?
This course is a comprehensive overview of the political ecology of the world food system, balancing traditional teaching methods with innovative elements like weekly contemplative practices and our course blog.
Course Learning Objectives
Upon successful completion of this course, which means seriously grappling with course materials and engaging dynamically in group projects and individual assignments, you will be able to:
- Think systemically about the world food system;
- Evaluate food systems at multiple scales, from local to global, through several lenses deployed in the course materials and discovered during personal reflection and research;
- Critically analyze world food problems and responses to these problems in light of their social, political, economic and ecological ramifications;
- Reflect upon the interpenetration of human and ecological systems in the Anthropocene;
- Integrate political, scientific, and ethical analysis to assess world food problems and formulate potential solutions;
- Develop creative responses to specific world food problems, both on your own and in collaboration with others;
- Articulate your ideas and feelings about complex issues of world food politics, both in writing and in conversation;
- Reflect upon your sense of social and political agency in the world food system as well as in the Internet age;
- Have a deeper sense of what it means to be a human being living at this moment in history.