John Warford: Using Food As The Foundation For Healthy Communities in Environment & Human Ecology at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

About this Course

GEO 3354 is an upper division course that requires no prerequisites. I do introduce the use of GIS in exploring and contextualizing the main themes of the course.


Two 75 minute lecture sessions classes per week

GEO 3354 Syllabus (Microsoft Word 35kB Aug14 18)

Making adult decisions takes practice and begins as an act of will. College is a prominent domain for young adults. What better place is introduce the critical importance of self-perpetuation through food and food systems than in college? With good information students' will can be engaged, their intelligence ignited, and understanding can be realized. Food ties into everything about being human. What better subject is there?

"Making wise choices about food and eating is a decision to validate life itself."

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials

I introduced the module at the start of week 4 in the course, after covering the main course themes and their interactions, after module completion (three and a half weeks) I followed up with GIS introduction and usage - employing the courses' four main themes.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

The relationships of hunger, resource shortages, and overpopulation, and environmental deterioration have a multitude food and food systems' reference points. The first four weeks is the course preps students for an examination of food systems and the food, water, energy nexus. The module has introduced my student's to both real-world challenges and systems thinking / applications. After the module is completed the remainder of course, uses the above themes and food as topics of choice in discovering the workings and applications of GIS. GIS - more systems thinking / applications. Main course themes as topics - more real world - challenges. It fits together beautifully.


There are four assessments used in the module. One formative, followed by three summative ones. The formative assessment is in Unit 1. The diversity of methods used the assessment design worked well based on the level of student engagement. Unit 1 was a short writing assignment (reflection & analysis). Unit 2 was concept mapping (graphic organizing), and Unit 3 was a scenario analysis (of the multiple roles and responses) in written form. I heard back from my students that each assessment type prepared them for the more challenging assessment that followed. I believe that giving them the option of working in groups (whenever possible) and individually (when desired) strengthened participation and assessment receptivity. Clear rubrics were invaluable. I would not make any modifications going forward.


I wanted this experience to be a clear, practical, interactive learning experience for my students. I wanted it also to be fun and teach them something about food production by way of the food water energy nexus. I wanted them to know and appreciate food - in and from a food system, and realize that there are community based participatory solutions to food insecurity and other community needs. Many of my students have conveyed to me that these things and others were gained by them during and after the completion of the course. Some more than others, but their collective effort and the graded results reflect this.This leads me to believe the stated goal set by my colleague and I in the development stage of this module continues to be achievable.