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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Karen T Litfin
ENVIR 450
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Environmental Studies

Format may range from seminar/discussion to formal lectures to laboratory or modeling work.

Class description

Political Ecology of the World Food System Where does our food come from? What are the social, political and environmental roots and consequences of the current agricultural practices? Who wins and who loses? In particular, we will focus on the pivotal role of petroleum in the world food system, the political consequences of disrupting the global carbon and nitrogen cycles, the question of meat, and the question of genetically modified organisms. We will study all of these issues and more against the backdrop of North/South inequality.

Student learning goals

Students will learn how to do commodity chain analysis.

Improved capacity for integrative thinking, linking science, politics and ethics.

Improved oral communication skills

Improved writing skills

Improved capacity for collaborative work as a consequence of commodity chain project.

Greater awareness of the relationship between our personal lives and the world system.

General method of instruction

Lectures, discussion, films, small group work on commodity chain projects

Recommended preparation

None, though a basic knowledge of international politics and sustainability issues will be helpful.

Class assignments and grading

Midterm, final exam, and commodity chain project on one of the following foods: wheat, beef, chocolate, coffee, tea, bananas, cotton, rice, coconut oil, corn. This course will include a service learning option.

To be announced


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Karen T Litfin
Date: 03/04/2010