2018-2019 Academic Catalog 
    Aug 23, 2019  
2018-2019 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ID 221 - Food Systems: Place, Politics and Policy

Agriculture and animal production have changed dramatically over the last century, especially after WWII, bringing higher yields and less expensive food to people. The changes also brought considerable costs to the natural environment and human (and animal) health. The “agribusiness model”, as we have termed the combination of low-cost, industrial, mechanized, fertilizer-intensive food production, has fueled global climate change, which in turn is dramatically shifting yields and costs, and our strategies to feed people. This course will investigate the causes and consequences of the transformation, and alternative pathways to protect communities against the negative impact of such large-scale transformation. We will explore, first, the economic and political determinants of the industrialization of food and animal production: the agribusiness model and its diffusion throughout the world. The drivers of the agribusiness model are highly concentrated corporate entities, which control the production of agricultural commodities, and rely upon vast supply chains to move products from production to the consumer throughout the world. The global control and outreach capacity of such corporate entities is backed-up by a robust scientific and political complex whose main objectives are not necessarily to feed the growing population of the planet.  The second section of the course will be devoted to understand and dissect in greater depth the joint effects of global climate change and the agribusiness model on the environment and health of territories, with a focus on trade, gender, health disparities, and food waste. The third section of the course will be devoted to examine the challenges of development for local and regional food systems, with a special emphasis on policy instruments, collective action, and community development. While the focus of the course is on the United States, we examine a variety of topics in a comparative and global perspective. The course has a seminar format.

This course may be repeatable for credit one time.

Anticipated Terms Offered: Annually Spring