The Future of Food is an introductory-level science course that emphasizes the challenges facing food systems in the 21st century, including issues of sustainability, resilience, and adaptive capacity, and the challenges posed by food insecurity and modern diets to human health and well-being. Systems thinking permeates the course as students use a coupled human-natural system model throughout the course to explore the natural system (e.g., soils, water, climate, crops, pests) and its interconnection with our human food system. Twelve online modules, each designed for one week of instruction, include active-learning elements, reading materials, videos and exercises incorporating real data sets and the application of critical thinking and problem-solving skills to real-world issues. The course culminates in a capstone project in which students apply concepts explored through the semester to a particular food region. Students work on their assigned food regions throughout the semester. The online course materials and associated readings substitute for a course textbook. The materials for teachers provide options for customizing the modules for different class situations.
Strengths of the Course
Students who learn with this class will:
- Describe and assess the soil, biological, and water resources and climatic conditions that support food production systems.
- Analyze how human food systems significantly alter Earth's ecosystems, specifically biological, soil, and water resources.
- Evaluate the resilience of food production systems in the context of climate change, human population growth, and socio-economic factors.
In working with data, students will:
- Use Google Earth to explore a food region.
- Utilize high-quality data sources available online.
- Interpret visual representations of data including maps, graphs, and other figures.
- Assess the resilience, vulnerability and adaptive capacity of the food system in an assigned food region.
Instructor Stories: How this module was adapted
for use at several institutions »