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This page first made public: Dec 15, 2016
Strengths of the Module
- This module prepares students from a variety of backgrounds to explore a global humanitarian problem using systems thinking. Sociopolitical and economic factors as well as Earth system concepts are examined as students explore what is meant by sustainable food production.
- The module employs a flipped classroom model. Students prepare for each class by conducting reading assignments and tutorials. These activities can be evaluated by the instructor and/or serve as the basis for discussion. Class sessions are reserved for group work and mapping activities, and opportunities for metacognitive reflection is built into assignments.
- In class, students work in groups to to build understanding of the complexity of the global food system, and learn how complex, multiscalar problems like global food security are "wicked problems"---where a solution may work for part of the problem but entail unforeseen consequences in other parts of the system.
- Data-enabled exercises set in place-based case study learning opportunities is also a strength. Individual and team assessment rubrics of student learning are included.
- Although designed as an integrated module, sufficient information and guidance is provided to enable instructors to incorporate individual units, activities, and components of activities into courses.
- Finally, a major strength of the module is its value in modeling the steps of a protracted research project to lower division students. Student teams examine primary literature, obtain spatial data and conduct original analyses using geospatial technologies, and present their findings to the class.
- Brainstorm solution(s) to the wicked problem of food security
- Synthesize multiple data sets and types of background material
- Gain familiarity with ArcGIS Online and use spatial analysis to explore a place-based problem
- Describe the various factors that influence food security in three different regional contexts
- Make connections between the earth system and cultural, economic, and political processes to understand the wicked problem of food security
A great fit for courses in:
- environmental science
- natural resources
- environmental geology
- earth science
- global change
The Wicked Problem of Global Food Security module is designed as a lower division introductory course that engages students from all backgrounds in exploration of an intractable humanitarian problem that requires multidisciplinary understanding. It also provides an introduction to the importance of Earth system science to nonmajors with little to no background in Earth science, and demonstrates the critical importance of Earth system knowledge and concepts when addressing the problem of world hunger and nutrition. No background in Earth science is assumed, and students are encouraged to bring their own disciplinary knowledge to the class and share with their team. Students in the course are introduced to ArcGIS Online (AGO) and use spatial analysis tools in identifying their research problem and solution. The module, individual units, and activities all may be scaled for use in introductory or graduate courses. Case studies of instructor application are provided on these web pages to describe experiences using the module, units, and activities in a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses at different levels. This should help instructors adapt the module for a wide range of course needs.
Supported Earth Science Literacy Principles:
- Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
- Big Idea 5: Earth is the water planet.
- Big Idea 7: Humans depend on Earth for resources.
- Big Idea 9. Humans significantly alter the Earth.
Supported Essential Principles of Climate Science:
2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.
4. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes.
5. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and human-made processes.
6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.
7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.
- Recognizing the signal within the natural variability
- Quantifying consequences, impacts, and effects
- Effectively communicating uncertainty and relative risk
- Determine how to anticipate, avoid, and manage disruptive global environmental change.
- Determine institutional, economic, and behavioral changes to enable effective steps toward global sustainability.
- Encourage innovation (and mechanisms for evaluation) in technological, policy, and social responses to achieve global sustainability.
Table of Contents
- Instructor Materials: Overview of the Food Security Module
Unit 1Introduction to Global Food Security Unit 2Systems Thinking and the Wicked Problem of Global Food Security Unit 3Climate Change and Food Security Unit 4Case Study Group Work-Problem Identification Unit 5Case Study Group Work-Spatial Data Investigation Unit 6Regional Case Study Community Action Plans
- Student Materials
- Instructor Stories
- Join the Community
- Boger R., Low R.D., Potter A.E. (2019) Tackling the Wicked Problem of Global Food Security: Engaging Undergraduates Through ArcGIS Online. In: Gosselin D., Egger A., Taber J. (eds) Interdisciplinary Teaching About Earth and the Environment for a Sustainable Future. AESS Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Sciences Series. Springer, Cham