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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Ray Hilborn
C ENV 110
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Food and the Environment

Relates the production and consumption of food to the major areas of environmental science including energy use, water consumptions, biodiversity loss, soil loss, pollution, nutrient cycles, and climate change. Studies the basic science and how food production impacts the key processes.

Class description

Food is produced in a variety of ways; crops are grown, animals are fed on crops and or grazed, fish are caught in the ocean and fresh water, and fish are raised in aquaculture. Each method of food production impacts the environment in many ways through transformation of habitats, consumption of energy and release of CO2, pollution of waterways, soil erosion, and reduction in biodiversity. Understanding how food production affects and shapes the environment can help us make choices about what kinds of food we eat, but also provides a window for learning about the basics of environmental science.

In this course will use food production and consumption as an introduction to many of the elements of environmental science including nutrient cycles, population growth, food webs, water supply and demand, impact of exploitation on natural populations, land transformation, energy consumption and its impact on climate. We will also explore how environmental changes impact individuals and societies in how they produce food. In the 1960s there were apocalyptic claims that the world would run out of food in the 1970s and wars would be fought over food. This did not happen and world food production has increased faster than human populations. However, the methods used to increase yields seem to have reached a plateau, and climate change, water and land shortages all threaten the ability to match food production to human population.

This course will cover a range of natural and physical sciences and will meet the Natural World requirement. The material will also cover how individuals, communities and societies have changed the environment and have responded to environmental changes and will meet the Individuals and Societies requirement.

Student learning goals

understand how different kinds of food production impact the environment both locally and globally

explore how individual, communities and societies have responded to environmental changes induced by food production

understand the relative environmental costs of different kinds of food

understand the major processes that shape the earths’ environment and be introduced to key research areas in environmental science

further developed your analytic, interpretive and critical thinking skills

further developed your comprehension, communication and writing skills

General method of instruction

Lectures, readings and discussions.

Recommended preparation

none

Class assignments and grading

Readings, keeping and analyzing a food diary, reviewing a book or service learning

2 midterm exams, a final exam, analysis of food diary, quizzes on readings, preparation of discussion questions, report on book readings or service learning


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 Ray Hilborn
Date: 09/14/2012