- Code ENVS6223
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Environmental Science
- Areas of interest Geography, Human Ecology, Environmental Science , Sustainability Science
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.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- 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.
- Understand and explain key agricultural systems concepts and perspectives at regional, national and global scales.
- Critically examine complex agricultural systems using a range of frameworks and tools.
- 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.
- Identify and argue constraints and opportunities for future sustainable agricultural systems.
- Oral presentation (15) [LO 1,2,3,5]
- Field report: critical examination of one component from field visits, 1500 words (30) [LO 1,2,3,5]
- Opinion piece: the opportunities of future agricultural systems, 700 words, various formats (15) [LO 1,2,3,5]
- Major field research report: integrate and synthesise learning, 4000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
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WorkloadA total of 130 hours, including 60 contact hours comprising lectures, practicals, workshops and field visits, plus up to 70 hours of self study.
Lectures: 24 x 1 hour
Field visits: 2 x 10 contact hours
Workshops and Practicals: 21 contact hours
To be determined
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsDyball, R and Newell, B (2015) Understanding Human Ecology. Routledge
McKenzie, N et al. (2004) Australian Soils and Landscapes. CSIRO Publishing
Preliminary ReadingCharman, PV and Murphy, BW (eds) (2000) Soils: Their Properties & Management (2nd edition), Oxford University Press, Melbourne
Jordan, CF (1998) Working with Nature, Harwood Academic Publishers
Assumed KnowledgeENVS6020 Human Ecology and/or ENVS6218 Environmental Science Field School are strongly recommended.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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