The objective of this course is to first explore the nature of our food systems and the paradox of why, despite the apparent scientific and technological developments in agriculture enabling production of a worldwide food surplus, food insecurity is increasing globally. Secondly, students will explore what needs to change in our food systems in order to reach a goal of sustainable food security.
To achieve these two objectives, students will be encouraged to explore food security from a household and community perspective in order to understand the environmental factors that contribute to food insecurity. This knowledge-building process will be done through group tasks in the classroom and in the field. Students will be expected to undertake practical work to assess the situation of households vulnerable to food insecurity, hopefully in two locations, one urban and one rural. The course emphasizes “learning by doing” and so there will be field trips to two locations to meet vulnerable households and to assess successful local research initiatives which are increasing household and community food security.
Group work in the class will address defining food security and what constitutes a healthy sustainable food system. In addition, there will be group work, for example, in exploring the causes of famines, the issue of food justice and a right to food, the problems of food aid, and the implications of commoditization of our food systems. To bring out opposing viewpoints on food issues, part of the group work will be organized as debates. The intention of the course is to emphasise experiential learning rather than focus on formal lectures although there will be an initial presentation by the instructor on a food security topic prior to each workshop session. Hopefully, students will have gained both practical skills and theoretical knowledge about hunger, famine and food security and will feel confident and empowered to address these issues directly or indirectly in their future work.