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Unit 1: Introduction to Global Food Security

Compiled by Amy E. Potter, Armstrong State University, amy.potter@armstrong.edu
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Summary

This introductory lesson will build the foundation for students to progress through the remaining units by defining food security and discussing the major factors contributing to food insecurity today (climate change, population growth, economic downturns, and change in global food consumption/wealth). Tied intimately to global food security is the concept of malnutrition. In this unit, students will engage with the three subcategories of malnutrition, which will provide an important basis for understanding the variation of food security across the globe and will challenge often held assumptions that food security only comes in the form of extreme hunger. Finally, students will be introduced to the global food system and will use the case study of chocolate to describe its components. As a formative assessment, students will take a five question multiple-choice quiz on the concept of malnutrition and the major causes of global food insecurity.

Learning Goals

After completing this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Define food security.
  2. List the major causes of food (in)security.
  3. Describe the three components of malnutrition.
  4. Describe and illustrate the components of the global food system.
  5. Be able to create a simple map using ArcGIS Online.

Context for Use

This unit is designed for a 90-minute face-to-face class and serves as an introduction to the Food Security module, or as a stand-alone introduction to the concepts of food security, malnutrition, and the global food system. It can be taught in any course discussing food security or it can be modified to fit a variety of courses of in the sciences and social sciences. The activities included in this unit are appropriate for introductory-level college students or as a basis for more in-depth class discussions on food security for upper-level students.

Description and Teaching Materials

Required Teaching Materials:

  • Computers and Internet access for pairs of students
  • Access to an ArcGIS Online organizational account or free trial account, (see https://www.arcgis.com/home/)

1.1 - Pre-class Activity (50 minutes total)

  1. Instructors should give the students the following prompt BEFORE they read the PDF. Students should type/write out their responses and bring to class for discussion.

    When you hear the words food security, what images, places, characteristics come to mind? Spend a few minutes writing your impressions (a couple sentences). You could also search for images that illustrate your thoughts. Paste those images into your word document. Students should submit their responses to the course management system.
  2. (Estimated time to complete: 5 minutes)
  3. Assign the following activity Student Handout on Food Security (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 162kB Dec1 16) as a pre-class homework/reading assignment. (Student Handout will include information defining and explaining the key concepts of this unit i.e. food security, malnutrition, and global food network.) Students will then take a Food Security Quiz (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 61kB Jun20 16) over the material either before class (using an online learning platform) or at the start of class.
    (Estimated time to complete: 15 minutes)
  4. Students should complete the 4x5 Activity to Orient to AGO (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 114kB Dec1 16), four activities that take five minutes each, to familiarize students with ArcGIS Online (AGO)
    (Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes)

1.2 - Introductory In-Class Activity (30 minutes total)

Have students share their answers to the pre-class activity and record their answers on the board. Student responses could include starving children, the continent of Africa, food access, and nutrition.

The goal of this exercise is for students to see food security as a multi-faceted, global problem. This sets us up for future units (4, 5, and 6) that explore food security issues in rural and urban areas of the United States in addition to the Caribbean.

After discussing the student's preconceived ideas of food security, the instructor will review key concepts and definitions in an Instructor Review Powerpoint (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 2.2MB Dec1 16) based on the pre-class reading Student Handout on Food Security (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 162kB Dec1 16).

(Estimated time to complete: 30 minutes)

1.3 - In-Class Activity: Mapping the Global Food System (60 minutes total)

Students will create a map tracing the commodity of chocolate through the global food system considering the multiple factors involved.

(Estimated time to complete: 60 minutes)

1.4 - Post-Class Activity

Students who do not finish their maps should complete them outside of class.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  • Sample assignment guide for module (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 115kB Dec1 16) should be given to students before the start of the food security module.
  • Instructor version of pre-class quiz on food security: Quiz Instructor Version With Answers (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 67kB Dec1 16)
  • Prior to starting the Food Security module, students might want to read Bryan L. McDonald. (2010). Food Security. Malden, Ma: Polity or The State of World Food Insecurity 2015 FAO. This will provide a more detailed understanding of the social, economic, and environmental factors impacting food security.
  • Students should submit their responses to Activity 1.1 to the course management system.
  • Instructor may want to devote a few minutes of class to describing the geographic grid (information on latitude and longitude) prior to starting the ArcGIS Online activity.

Assessment

Learning goals are listed with their associated summative and/or formative assessment. A Universal Rubric for Assignments Units 1-5 (Excel 2007 (.xlsx) 40kB Dec1 16) is available.

Learning Goal 1: Define food security

Learning Goals 1-3: Students will reinforce their understanding of the assigned PDF reading by taking a quiz before class: Professors can utilize the multiple choice quiz by uploading it to their online learning platform or give the students the quiz at the start of class.

Learning Goal 2: List five contributing factors to food (in)security

Learning Goals 1-3: Students will reinforce their understanding of the assigned PDF reading by taking a quiz before class: Professors can utilize the multiple choice quiz by uploading it to their online learning platform or give the students the quiz at the start of class.

Learning Goal 3: Describe the three components of malnutrition

Learning Goals 1-3: Students will reinforce their understanding of the assigned PDF reading by taking a quiz before class: Professors can utilize the multiple choice quiz by uploading it to their online learning platform or give the students the quiz at the start of class.

Learning Goal 4: Define and describe components of the global food system

Students will create a map describing the global food system through the case study of chocolate.

Learning Goal 5: Create a simple map using ArcGIS Online

Students will create a map describing the global food system through the case study of chocolate.

References and Resources

Godfray, C.J., Beddington, J.R., Crute, I. R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J. F., Pretty, J., Robinson, S., Thomas, S.M., and Toulmin, C. (2010). Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People. Science 12: 327 (5967), 812-818.

Hanning, I., O'Bryan, B., Crandall, C.A., and Ricke, S. C. (2012) Food Safety and Food Security. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):9.

McDonald, B.L. (2010). Food Security. Malden, Ma: Polity.

Paci-Green, R. and Berardi, G. (2015). Do global food systems have an Achilles heel? The potential for regional food systems to support resilience in regional disasters. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 5: 685-698.

Pinstrup-Andersen, P. and Watson, D.D. II. (2011). Food Policy for Developing Countries: The Role of Government in Global, National, and Local Food Systems. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Sage, C. (2012). Environment and Food. London: Routledge.

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »