Global Citizenship: sustainable agriculture and food systems
Rationale and objectives
“[F]ood represents one of the most direct relationships humans have with the natural environment" (Carney, 2014). However, to say that current food production and consumption trends have left both humans and the natural environment at a loss, would be an understatement. On this premise, it is critical that we understand where our food comes from, how it is grown, how the food system functions, and what we can tangibly do to resolve it. Students are out of touch with the local environment, and lack hands-on practical skills, particularly in relation to food production. Practical learning is required to supplement theory. Local and sustainable food production can facilitate learning in the field of agriculture, environmental sciences, and nutrition. Furthermore, students will learn about the colonial background of ecological science. Ecology as a discipline benefitted from colonial access to land which included dispossessing native people and discounting their existing knowledge systems. Through this course students can gain perspective on this historical background of ecology, and at the same time contribute to decolonising the discipline by “practicing ethical ecology in inclusive teams” through their communal work on the farm (Trisos, 2021).
The main activities revolve around two pillars: theory and practical.
For the theoretical component, each week, different topics around the food system will be introduced as well as guest speakers from various fields (e.g.). Weekly topics will include: Environmental Impacts of Our Food and Agricultural System, Diet Choice and Food Waste, Farm Management, Urban Agriculture, Conservation Agriculture, Pesticides, Pollinators, Sustainable Food and Agriculture in the Community, Future Food, etc.
Throughout the course, students will visit various local organic, small-scale farms, food forest initiatives as well as larger industrial greenhouses/ fields, all of which within cycling distance or an hour by public transportation.
Students will be given a community based food project in which they are expected to collaborate with a local food producer. For example, students can help at a local farm/ food kitchen for a day.
On the farm, students will collaborate with the resident farmer to seed, nurture, maintain and harvest produce which can be used for a community dinner at the end of the course.
Students are expected to gain experience working within the local food system with integration of knowledge in agriculture, environmental science, nutrition and political ecology. On successful completion of the course students will feel competent in their ability to speak and be able to apply theoretical concepts and knowledge to practice, develop critical thinking skills, as well as cultivate their research, teamwork and communication skills.
This initiative is designed to be replicable for other participating universities and can be easily adjusted to the partner school’s local context by using the core theory themes and integrating context-dependent local partners, farmers, initiatives etc.
We are looking for:
Partners who are interested and willing to co develop and implement the course at their own institutions.