• Class Number 9218
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Bronwyn Wilkes
    • Bronwyn Wilkes
    • Dr Craig Strong
    • Dr Robert Dyball
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
    • Bronwyn Wilkes
    • Louise Blessington
    • Pele Cannon
SELT Survey Results

The sustainability of human food systems is examined in this course from a complex systems perspective, focusing on agricultural systems in Australia and internationally at local, national and global scales. Historical, social and political perspectives on farming systems and soil management techniques in agriculture form part of an interdisciplinary approach to food sustainability that brings together the socio-political reality of agricultural management and development with the ecological functioning of healthy landscapes. You will explore topics including rural livelihoods, sustainability, food security, adaptation, conservation agriculture, ecological processes involving soils, crop plants and livestock, and the design and implementation of improved farming systems.  A range of land management issues are addressed, including soil conservation, restoration and rehabilitation; alternative farming and grazing systems; and sustainable intensification strategies. Production issues are integrated into the broader social, cultural and economic contexts of family farming and agri-business, consumer demand and marketing, international trade and rural policy.  Examples are drawn from Australia and a range of other countries that may include Indonesia, the Philippines, Syria, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India.

The course includes field visits to farm and food industry enterprises designed to provide first-hand experience and application of your learning; attendance on field trips is a course requirement.
In the second half of the course you will choose one of two concurrent workshop streams, focusing either on socio-cultural or on biophysical aspects of sustainable agricultural systems. These streams lead respectively to human ecology and environmental studies, or to natural resource management and environmental science.  Both streams have practical components that develop skills and reinforce understanding, and a systems framework ensures that links are drawn between the two streams.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Apply key concepts in human ecology and natural resource management to agricultural farming systems, and communicate planned outcomes to a range of audiences in effective written and oral form.
  2. Understand and explain key agricultural systems concepts and perspectives at regional, national and global scales.
  3. Critically examine complex agricultural systems using a range of frameworks and tools.
  4. Collect, analyse, interpret and present land and soil resource data (including remotely sensed data and published literature) from a range of scales in the landscape to produce land use and land management suitability scenarios.
  5. Identify and argue constraints and opportunities for future sustainable agricultural systems.

Research-Led Teaching

Students will receive lectures from researchers and practitioners across a range of disciplines relevant to agricultural systems. Each lecturer will draw directly from their own research experiences, management practices or publications. The course field trips visit working agricultural enterprises, and includes speakers who are actively engaged in real world management. The tutorials and workshops explore the use of tools and frameworks in complex cross-disciplinary applications, and give students opportunities to practice skills that can be applied to a range of real-world situations.

Field Trips

The course will include two field experiences - one full-day and one half-day. Please refer to the course Wattle for further information.

Additional Course Costs


Required Resources

No special resources are required.

Readings will be made available during the course.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments on assignments;
  • Verbal comments on individual presentations;
  • Verbal feedback to the whole class on group exercises;
  • Additional, individual feedback on request.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 An indicative schedule for the course is outlined below. This may change based on the availability of guest lecturers. For more complete information, please refer to the course Wattle site.
2 Weeks 1 & 2 In the first fortnight we will explore some foundational concepts such as: What are agricultural systems? What does agriculture do? What are agricultural systems for? What is sustainability? We will look at the current state of global food system, and introduce some frameworks for conceptualising and analysing agricultural systems.
3 Weeks 3 to 6 In weeks 3 to 6 we will look at conventional high-input high-output cropping and grazing systems in Australia and overseas. We will ask questions about why these systems dominate, and consider the threats and risks with current systems. We will start to think about what needs to change in order to achieve sustainable desirable outcomes from agricultural systems.
4 Weeks 7 to 10 In weeks 7 to 10 we will move to look at alternative systems such as regenerative agriculture, sustainable intensification, urban agriculture, and short food supply chains. We will also explore the role of various means of bringing about sustainable change, and the imperative of inclusion of previously marginalized groups in ensuring sustainable agricultural futures.
5 Weeks 11 & 12 Choose your own adventure! Course content in the final weeks will be developed in response to student interests and prior knowledge, which will be discussed during the first few weeks of the course.

Tutorial Registration

Via the course Wattle site

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Reflective journal 20 % 07/08/2019 30/10/2019 1,2,3
Workshop exercise 20 % 12/08/2019 04/10/2019 3,4,5
Collaborative engagement 10 % 22/07/2019 13/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Final Report 50 % 25/10/2019 13/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions and course activities, whilst supporting others to do the same.


Not applicable.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 07/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Reflective journal

Four critical reflections (of around 500 words each, but no more than one page), with a focus on set readings but inclusive of all course material and activities. These should include text, but you may attach photos or images or other annexes to support your written reflection.

The first one is due 9am Wednesday 7th August, you may choose which 3 weeks to submit the remaining three pieces, i.e. you can submit these at any time of your choice before 9am Wednesday 23rd October, but they must be at least 1 week apart from each other.

Please refer to the course Wattle site for detailed information about this assessment item including the rubric.

Value: 20%

Presentation requirements: Single page, Arial 11 point (or equivalent size font), single spaced, margins no less than 2cm.

Estimated return date: 10 days after submission, for those submitted prior to week 11. All others will be returned by 11 November.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 12/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5

Workshop exercise

Completion of one exercise after your choice of the workshops in either week 3 (Fractional Cover) or week 7 (Value Chains)

Fractional Cover exercise

Series of short answer questions relating to interpreting fractional cover data.


Value Chains exercise

Attempt to map the supply chain of an agricultural product you regularly consumer, and provide a single page diagram that maps the supply chain, supported by text that describes each step of the process with references of your sources of information.

Include a brief commentary (no more than 300 words) with references, on what the biggest climate change impact might be for this supply chain, and how it could be managed.

Please refer to the course Wattle site for detailed information about this assessment item including the rubric.

Word limit: N/A

Value: 20%

Estimated return date: Fractional cover quiz by 23 August 2019 ; Value Chains by 4 October 2019

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 22/07/2019
Return of Assessment: 13/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Collaborative engagement

Students are expected to collaboratively participate in tutorials, workshops, lectures, Wattle online forum discussions, field trips, and other scheduled class activities. Active, thoughtful participation in each aspect of the course will assist students individual and collective learning. This component of the assessment will be marked based on your contributions and participation across each element of the course. Attendance will not be sufficient to grade highly in this component, you are encouraged to make considered contributions – this is not about being ‘correct’ or knowing a lot of facts, but instead is about respectfully contributing your thoughts, experiences, and reflections, as well as taking an interest in the thoughts and contributions of your fellow students, guest lecturers, and course staff. Assessment will be via aggregating efforts across both verbal (e.g. in classes) and written communication (e.g. posting to Wattle forums and Echo360 live class discussion).

Word limit: N/A

Value: 10%

Estimated return date: 13 November 2019

The date range indicates the start of the course and the end of the course. Assessment under this task is continuous throughout the course.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 25/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 13/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final Report

Your choice of either (a) Field Trip Report, or (b) Sustainable Meal Plan Report 

Option A: Field Trip Report

Compare and contrast any two farms we visited in terms of the sustainability of their activities, including discussion of at least one biophysical and one sociocultural aspect of their enterprise. What do you think are the constraints and opportunities for each of your two chosen examples to contribute to a more sustainable agricultural system?

You will need to describe the framework you are using to assess sustainability, and detail your reasons for assessment. You should not focus solely on the two example farms in isolation, but also on their connections with other food system activities. You should discuss the values influencing the practices of the people involved, including the farmers and the citizens who consume their produce, as well as the biophysical impacts of those practices.


Option B: Sustainable Meal Plan Report

In the workshop exercises relating to this task you will design a meal plan for a celebration of relevance to your own culture, then revise the meal plan with the aim of making it more sustainable.

In the report you should present your initial and revised meal plans, and explain the reasons behind the changes you made to make the meal more sustainable.

Using two ingredients from your meal plan, discuss in detail the sustainability implications of those ingredients across the entire food system from production and extraction from the environment, through distribution and processing, to meal preparation, consumption and waste.

Reflect on the applicability of the sustainability changes you made to other cultures. Discuss the challenges and opportunities for transitions to healthy, culturally acceptable, and sustainable diets, and the implications for all actors in globally connected food systems, including producers and consumers.

Post-graduate students will also need to submit an Annotated Bibliography (300 words) and a Positionality Statement (500 words), for which ever option A or B they choose. Additional guidance will be provided to post-graduate students in relation to these additional components of assessment.

Please refer to the course Wattle site for detailed information about these assessment items including the rubrics.

Word limit: 3000 words for report, excluding bibliography, but including everything else; additional 800 words to be allocated to Positionality Statement (500 words) and Annotated Bibliography (300 words)

Value: 50%

Estimated return date: 13 November 2019

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Feedback on assignments is provided electornically on Turnitin via the Wattle course pages

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

In exceptional circumstances the convenor will allow an assignment to be resubmitted, but this must be negotiated in person with the convenor.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Bronwyn Wilkes

Research Interests

Short supply chain food systems; Transitions to Biosensitivity; Human Ecology; Sustainability education.

Bronwyn Wilkes

Bronwyn Wilkes
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Bronwyn Wilkes

Dr Craig Strong

Research Interests

Dr Craig Strong

Dr Robert Dyball
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Dr Robert Dyball

Bronwyn Wilkes
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Bronwyn Wilkes

Louise Blessington

Research Interests

Louise Blessington

Pele Cannon
+61 2 6125 4882

Research Interests

Pele Cannon

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