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Engineering LibreTexts

1: Introduction

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  • Introduction

    In the two introductory modules (1.1 and 1.2) of the course, we will introduce the main theme of the course: learning about food systems as systems that combine human social systems, with the natural earth system and earth surface processes, to fulfill the food needs of human societies. The objective is to prepare you to tackle learning about sub-components of these systems (e.g. water resources, soil management, adaptive capacity of food systems to climate change) in an integrated rather than a piecemeal way, which is essential to understanding the current function of food systems as well as proposing future solutions for these systems. During this introductory unit, you will also embark on the course capstone project that asks you to structure your learning about food systems of a particular world region. These introductory modules will also present the systems concept as a general way of thinking that applies especially well to food systems.


    • Identify connections between human and natural components of food systems.
    • Understand and apply systems thinking principles to food systems.

    Learning Objectives

    After completing this module, students will be able to:

    • Construct a concept map representing two food systems.
    • Identify human and natural component parts of food systems.
    • Apply systems thinking strategies in analyzing food systems at an elementary level, including assessing relationships between natural and human system factors that display key functions and characteristics of food systems.
    • Identify sustainable and unsustainable characteristics of food systems.



    Module 1 Roadmap

    Detailed instructions for completing the Summative Assessment will be provided in each module.

    Module 1 Roadmap
    Action Assignment Location
    To Read
    1. Materials on the course website.
    2. Sage, Colin. "Introduction: Why environment and food?" pp. 1-8, Chapter 1 in Environment and Food. London and New York: Routledge.
    3. Public Radio International: Despite Economic Gains, Peru's Asparagus Boom Threatening Water Table. (Module 1.2)
    1. You are on the course website now.
    2. Available on e-reserves and here as a PDF: Chapter 1 in Environment and Food.
    3. Online: Despite Economic Gains, Peru's Asparagus Boom Threatening Water Table. Note: You will listen to this only if you select to analyze the Peruvian asparagus export sector, as a food system example in the Summative Assessment.
    To Do
    1. Formative Assessment: Environment and Food Issues
    2. Summative Assessment: Concept Mapping and Assessment of Food Systems
    3. Participate in the Discussion
    4. Take Module Quiz
    1. In course content: Formative Assessment; then submit in Canvas
    2. In course content: Summative Assessment; then take the quiz in Canvas
    3. In Canvas
    4. In Canvas


    If you prefer to use email:

    If you have any questions, please send them through Canvas e-mail. We will check daily to respond. If your question is one that is relevant to the entire class, we may respond to the entire class rather than individually.

    If you prefer to use the discussion forums:

    If you have any questions, please post them to the discussion forum in Canvas. We will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.

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