ES 103 (Wellesley College)/ANT 267 (Davidson College)

Food, Agriculture, and Sustainability

Fall 2015


Prof. Eriberto P. Lozada Jr.

Anthropology/Environmental Studies

Office: Chambers B12

Office hours: MWF 9:30-10:20am

TR 9:00-10:00am or by appointment

Prof. Jay Turner

Environmental Studies

Office: Pendleton Hall East 133

Office hours:  TBD

Course website:

Course Descriptions and Goals

Where does our food come from? Is the way we grow, distribute, and consume it sustainable? What is the difference between organic and conventional agriculture? Are technologies, such as genetic modification, ethically defensible? How does our assessment change if we consider agriculture in developing countries? We will explore these questions through an interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies that draws on economics, politics, history, ethics, and the sciences. Students will investigate these questions through activities such as hands-on project in agricultural research, community-based learning projects with a community partner, and the development of a case study on a policy-relevant food issue.

In exploring these issues, this course will consider major concepts important to environmental studies: the state of scientific research regarding environmental issues, the role of science, politics, and economics in environmental decision making and sustainability, and the importance of history, ethics and justice in approaching environmental issues. The central aim of the course is to help students begin to develop the interdisciplinary analytical skills important to environmental studies.

This course is part of an exploratory project on the use of online instructional components, and will be taught jointly at Davidson and Wellesley. We will all have a common set of materials and assignments; students at both Davidson and Wellesley will be working together online on a number of different projects.

Learning Outcomes


Paarlberg, Robert 2013. Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know, 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0199322384. (Available as E-Book from Amazon).

Additional required articles will be available on the WDX site.

Course Requirements

The most important work in this course is to be prepared for each meeting; this means having read the material and being prepared to discuss particular points from the reading. Readings should be completed before class on the day listed in the class schedule.  Your engagement with the material is vital for the success of this learning experience.

Class Participation: 15%

Active participation requires that each student come to class prepared, having read the assigned material before class. We will not review the readings, but will expect you to be ready to engage in active discussion about the impact of the conclusions reached, strengths and weaknesses of the methodology used by the author(s), and its application to your project or your own experiences.

Weekly Discussion Posts: 15%

On the WDX site, we will have a forum that will allow students to reflect, comment, or critique the readings, other class materials, and make connections to current events. This will be an important area where Davidson and Wellesley students can engage with each other. Please see the handout on discussion posts for more information. LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Written Analysis: 20%

There is one written assignment based on an analysis of organic versus conventional agriculture. For Wellesley students, this is based on the Farm-in-a-Box project; for Davidson students, this is located at the Davidson Farm. Please see the handout on this project for more information. This paper will be due prior to class on 30 October.

Community Project: 30%

Students will be divided into groups that will work with community leaders on a particular project. There are two submissions based on the community project: one submitted as an individual, the other submitted as a group. The individual component is the journal (10%) that both documents what you’ve done for the project and gives you an opportunity to reflect upon this work. The group component (20%) is based upon completion of the project that the group has agreed to do with their community partner. We will have more handouts during the semester on various aspects of the project.

Case Study: 20%

Students will be divided into groups by interest to explore a particular food issue in more depth, creating a policy-type website that presents salient aspects of the chosen food issue. This component will also include a presentation in class on the issue, where students will lead class discussion. Completion of the website will be due by 9 December.

Submission of Writing Assignments:  All assignments must be submitted to your on-campus instructor electronically.  If you have any questions about how to submit assignments, please ask your on-campus instructor.

All work is subject to the Davidson or Wellesley College Honor Code as appropriate. If there are individual accommodations for special needs, please let your on-campus instructor know.  At Davidson, you should authorize the Dean of Students to contact Prof. Lozada; at Wellesley, you should contact Prof. Turner or Jim Wice.

Schedule Overview

A daily schedule will be available from your on-campus instructor, due to the differences in the class times between Davidson and Wellesley. Below is a weekly overview of readings, media, and assignments. All articles will be available on the WDX site. Discussion posts are due weekly, and will not be listed below.

Week 1 (31 August)

Course introduction.

Reading: Kuhlman and Farrington article. Godfray article. Paarlberg, Chapter 1, Chapter 3.

Online media: Turner and Lozada introduction. Turner videos on sustainability. Howard video (optional).

Introductions:  1) Introduce yourself with post to Zeemap (where are you from and a meaningful connection to food).

Week 2

Development and Agriculture, Globalization

Lozada will be lecturing at Wellesley on September 8.

Reading: Paarlberg Chapter 6, Chapter 11. Shiva article. Bestor article. Yan article (optional). Ausland article. Reflection article (optional).

Online media: Riemer video.

Week 3

Food Access, Justice, and Health

Reading: Paarlberg Chapter 7. Guthman article. Mares article.

Online media: Turner videos on food justice/health.

Week 4

Food and Gender, Local Food, Labels

Reading: Paarlberg Chapter 10, 12. Barndt article. Huang article (optional). Leitch article. Bullock article (optional). Slow Food Manifesto.

Online media: Lozada video. Turner video. Bullock video.

Week 5

Farm-in-a-Box 1

Reading: King chapters in Reaching for the Sun, “Photosynthesis,” “Plants are Cool, but Why?” and “Nutrition.”  

Online Media: Turner/Jones videos.

Week 6

Farm-in-a-Box 2

Turner will be lecturing at Davidson on 5 October.

Reading: King chapter “Nitrogen, Nitrogen, Everywhere.” Scheer and Moss article. Sutton and Bleeker article. “Is Organic Worth the Extra Expense?” 

Week 7

Fall Break/Farm-in-a-Box 3

Reading: Badgley article.  Forman article.

Week 8

Farm-in-a-Box 4

Reading: Pimentel article.

Online media: Lozada video on data analysis

Week 9

Community Project/Case Study Preparation

Online media: Lozada WordPress instructional videos

Week 10

Case Study #1

Reading: TBD (selected by students)

Online media:  TBD (selected/created by students)

Week 11

Case Study #2

Reading: TBD (selected by students)

Online media:  TBD (selected/created by students)

Week 12

Case Study #3

Reading: TBD (selected by students)

Online media:  TBD (selected/created by students)

Week 13

Case Study #4

Reading: TBD (selected by students)

Online media:  TBD (selected/created by students)

Week 14

Class Wrap-Up/Conclusion