Spring 2015

Food for All: Ecology, Biotechnology and Sustainability
Bio 185-01 / CIS 201-01 / Nutr 241-01

Mondays & Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

With the human population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, how will we meet the increasing demand for food in an ecologically sustainable way? Historically, rapid increases in yield have been a result of advances in three main technologies: (1) genetic improvement; (2) use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers; and (3) expanded irrigation. Each of these technological advances, however, has limitations or has led to significant environmental degradation. There is an urgent need for new approaches to food production without destroying the environment.

This interdisciplinary course will examine the pros and cons of divergent approaches to meeting this food demand. Using crops grown in developing and industrialized countries as case studies, students will evaluate: (1) how ecological knowledge makes food production more sustainable; (2) what existing and emerging approaches can, in the face of climate change, contribute to a reliable supply of nutritious food; and (3) the political and economic drivers that shape who has access to these technologies. The course will also explore stakeholder-specific perspectives (growers, advocacy groups, industry, governmental agencies) and develop important communication skills for negotiating these different perspectives.

Prerequisites: Introductory Biology, Introductory Chemistry or equivalent.


Colin Orians
Professor, Department of Biology, School of Arts and Sciences
Director, Environmental Studies Program, School of Arts and Sciences

Timothy Griffin
Associate Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Director, Agriculture, Food and Environment, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Sara Gomez
Program Administrator, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Environmental Studies Program


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