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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Karen T Litfin
POL S 385
Seattle Campus

Political Ecology of the World Food System

Investigates the intersection of globalization and food politics, the pivotal role of petroleum in the world food system, and the commodity chains for some foods. Includes an optional service learning component. Offered: jointly with ENVIR 385.

Class description

This course will address these questions and more: Where does our food come from? What are the social, political and environmental roots and consequences of current agricultural practices? Who wins and who loses? To what extent are non-state actors altering the world political system? How does our planetary food web challenge our sense of personal identity and ethical responsibility? 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 questions of meat and genetically modified food, and new social movements focusing on food.

Student learning goals

1. Critical thinking skills about some of the most important issues of our day

2. Expanded capacity for integrative thinking, linking science, politics and ethics

3. Greater ability to articulate ideas and feelings about these issues, in writing and conversation

4. A deeper sense of what it means to be a human being living at this moment in history

5. Students who do service learning will improve a range of skills, from organic gardening to data analysis.

6. Students who write a research paper will improve analytical and writing skills.

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

ENVIR 100 or POL S/ENVIR 384 are helpful but not required.

Class assignments and grading


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Karen T Litfin
Date: 02/28/2013