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GEOG 3N - Food and the Future Environment

This is a sample syllabus.

This sample syllabus is a representative example of the information and materials included in this course. Information about course assignments, materials, and dates listed here is subject to change at any time. Definitive course details and materials will be available in the official course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


The Food and the Future Environment is an introductory-level science course that emphasizes the challenges facing food systems in the 21st century, issues of sustainability for agriculture and other food production activities, as well as the challenges posed by food insecurity and modern diets to human health and well-being. Topics covered include an introduction to the coupled-system perspective, the historical development of food systems, socioeconomic aspects of the food system, the interaction of the food system with the Earth's environment including soil, water, biota, and climate, and the future of the food system considering potential changes such as in climate, urbanization, and demography.


When you successfully complete this course, you will be prepared to:

  • Analyze the land, biological, energy and water resources and climatic conditions in relation to food production systems.
  • Analyze how human food systems significantly alter Earth's ecosystems, landscapes, surface processes, atmosphere, and waterways.
  • Evaluate scenarios for the future of food, considering resilience in the context of climate change, human population growth, and socioeconomic, cultural and policy factors.

Required Materials

Typically, there are no required materials for this course. If this changes, students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.




We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. How much and how well you learn is dependent on your attitude, diligence, and willingness to ask for clarifications or help when you need them. We are here to help you succeed. Please keep up with the class schedule and take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us and with your fellow students. You can expect to spend an average of 8 - 10 hours per week on class work.

Major Assignments

Summative Assessments (45% of total course grade)

Summative assessments are activities that require students to integrate multiple concepts presented in each module used to assess student mastery. 

Capstone Activity (35% of total course grade)

The capstone project requires that students research and assess the current status of the food systems in an assigned region, and consider the food systems in their assigned region for future scenarios of human population growth and increased temperatures. The capstone assignment is broken down into five assignments corresponding to the stages of the capstone. Each stage requires students to complete associated worksheets and short writing assignments which will culminate into a 10+ page capstone paper and a 500-word reflection. 

Weekly Quizzes (10% of total course grade)

Students’ understanding of the module content will be assessed through electronically administered and graded quizzes (in Canvas). The quizzes will be designed to assess the extent to which students have mastered the science presented in the modules.

Discussions (10% of total course grade)

Students will write 200-300 word reactions to address the discussion prompt which will allow them to react and explore the week's content. In addition, students will respond to their classmates by commenting on something they found interesting, answering one of the questions posed, or posing another question about the information in the post.


Course Schedule

Course Schedule
1Course Orientation and Introduction: Food, Environment, and Society
  • Formative Assessment: Environment and Food Issues
  • Summative Assessment: Concept Mapping and Assessment of Food Systems
  • Discussion
  • Quiz
2Geographic and Historical Context
  • Capstone Region Selection
  • Summative Assessment: Drivers and Feedbacks in the Development of Food Systems
  • Discussion
  • Quiz
3Diet and Nutrition
  • Formative Assessment: Using A Diet Assessment Tool
  • Summative Assessment: Food Access and Food Deserts
  • Quiz
  • Capstone Stage 1 Assignment
4Food and Water
  • Formative Assessment: Turning Water into Food
  • Summative Assessment: Kansas Farm Case Study
  • Discussion
  • Quiz
5Soils as a Key Resource for Food Systems
  • Formative Assessment: Mapping Trends in Soil Properties
  • Summative Assessment: N and P Balances
  • Discussion
  • Quiz
  • Summative Assessment: Top 15 World Food Commodities
  • Quiz
  • Capstone Project Stage 2: Water Soil and Crops
7Soils and a Systems Approach to Soil Quality
  • Summative Assessment: Interpreting a 12-year Summary of Crop and Soil Management from New York (Discussion)
  • Quiz
8Pests and Integrated Pest Management
  • Formative Assessment: Australian Grain Crop IPM and Determining the Economic Threshold of Potato Leafhoppers in Alfalfa
  • Summative Assessment: Herbicide Resistant Weed Interpretation and Management of Multiple Pest Types (Discussion)
  • Quiz
9Food and Climate Change
  • Summative Assessment: Climate Change Predictions in your Capstone Region
  • Quiz
  • Capstone Stage 3: Soil/crop management, pests, and climate change
  • OPTIONAL: Global Climate Change Video Assignment (9.1)
10Human-Environment Interactions
  • Summative Assessment: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Potato in Smallholder Andean and North American Systems
  • Discussion
  • Quiz
11Human-Environment Interactions
  • Summative Assessment: The Anatomy of the Somali Famine (2010 - 2012)
  • Quiz
  • Capstone Stage 4
12Future Food Scenarios
  • Capstone Stage 5 Rough Draft
  • Capstone Stage 5 Peer Review
  • Capstone Stage 5 Final Paper
  • Capstone Stage 5 Reflection
Final Exam