Syllabus (and home page) Updated March 22, 2020
Homepage for the Food Systems, Sustainability, and Climate course
Spring 2021 Course Guide Information
|Course Title:||Food Production Systems and Sustainability (formerly Food Systems, Sustainability and Climate Change).|
|Course Guide Listing:||DY SCI 471, AGRONOMY 471, and INTER-AG 471|
|Prerequisites:||Junior, Senior, Graduate standing|
|Date/Time:||Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-5:15 pm|
|Location:||Remote, sychronous instruction on Zoom|
|Instructor:||Michel Wattiaux, 434 Animal Sciences Building, email@example.com|
|Teaching Assistant:||Delaney Gobster and MaryGrace Erickson,|
|Description:||This trans-disciplinary course delves into aspects of biological, social, and agricultural sciences underpinning the assessment of food production systems as related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change. After engaging students in an example multidisciplinary case-study of milk carbon foot-print, instructors will guide students through the development of their own food production and climate change case-study research projects culminating with students creating multi-media web-pages, giving audio-visual presentations, and (for grad students) writing a peer-review style article. Students will engage in collaborative projects with people from disparate disciplinary paradigms.|
|Additional info:||This course partially fulfills the course requirement of the Food System Certificate (CALS) and the Sustainability Certificate (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies), and the CALS three credits of International Studies. The course is also listed in the category E: Applied Biology, Agriculture and Natural Resources of the Biology Major as well as in the list of electives for the Global Health Certificate. This course contributes also to your eligibility to participated in a two-week Field Study Program in Mexico (i.e., This course is one of the alternative prerequisites for the international field program.)|
Theme 1: Through reading and discussion of core research in food systems and climate change, during theme 1, students will:
- Recognize relevant scientific knowledge and integrate information from crop science, livestock science, environmental science, and social science as related to distinct production systems (regardless of time and space), including for example past, current, or future, urban or rural, local or global, and artisanal (small scale) or industrial (see figure below);
- Evaluate food production systems for contribution to, mitigation potential of, and adaptation to climate change;
- Identify ways in which social structures profoundly affect not only people, but also biology, ecology, and our very climate; and the complement: how people's race/class/gender/occupation/nation status within the global social structure, as well as the nature of the global social structure itself, profoundly impacts their ability to cope with changing climate.
Part 2: Through Team Projects, students will develop their capacity to:
- Assess critically the sustainability [environmental (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions), social (e.g., food justice), and economical (e.g., financial aspects)] of food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste disposal;
- Function effectively with team members with diverse worldview, as well as develop analytical and problem-solving skills;
- Communicate effectively information to multiple audiences through multiple medias.
Additional it will be expected that Graduate Students will:
- Develop skills working with mixed teams including undergraduate students.
- Hone their research and writing skills in drafting academically rigorous literature reviews.
- Assess the broader impacts of research beyond the academic setting.
Teaching MethodsMy role as instructor:
- To define the course topics and relative importance of various subject matters,
- To provide you with the information and resources you need to learn,
- To facilitate class activities designed to foster deep thinking and critical analysis,
- To communicate with you in a way that facilitates your learning,
- To set the level of expectations and evaluate your progress and your work.
The course is divided in two main parts. Part 1 will engage you in reading and discussing recent research on food systems, sustainability and climate change. As an instructor, I have designed part 1 of the course as a inter-disciplinary approach to studying animal source food for humans and dairy production systems in particular as a the "instructor's project." What we will do in part 1 is meant in part to be a model for you to follow in developing your own project in part 2 of the course (Student Team Projects: creating your own multi-disciplinary team project on a topic of your choice). Not that the two parts are NOT sequential, but rather interleaved as more emphasis is given to part 1 at the beginning of the semester, only to let part 2 becoming a more important component of what we do in the class as the semester proceed.Part 1
Expectations: What am I expected to do to get good grades?
First, Individually Graded Items: Class Engagement, Content Knowledge, Reflection and Analysis
- Be prepared for class and team work: Allocate enough time to read the papers carefully before class. Think of the reading and homework assignments as a way of helping yourself find out what you know and what you don't know or don't fully understand. For making sense of the course material, you have to continually question yourself, your teammates, your classmates, and your instructor.
- Complete Pre-class entries in your own Journal: In this journal you will record the product of your very own reflection on the reading before class starts (see "Schedule and Material" page to download the journal template).
- Complete a "pre-class blog" before either the Tuesday or Thursday class: You will be assigned to one of two groups. Members of group "T" (for Tuesday) and group "R" (for Thursday) will be asked to post an abbreviated version of their journal entry prior to class as "pre-class blog" that will be accessible to other students. These pre-class blogs are important because they help your instructional team to prepare the class activities that addresses your concerns.
- Be an active participant in class: Active participation in class means listening, thinking, taking notes (hint: in your journal!) and asking questions. There are (almost) no stupid questions in this class. As long as you have a genuine interest in learning the subject matter, all questions will be valid questions! Be honest with yourself and you will find out what your current level of knowledge really is, and what your misunderstandings might be.
- Reflect on what happened in the class afterward: To help you "capture" what you have learned during our class activities, you are expected to complete a brief post-class journal entry focusing on your very own "bottom-line" and "take-home" messages.
- Before class:
- Use your NetID to login the "restricted" (internal) Schedule and Materials page of the website;
- Read the posted paper(s) and/or view posted videos;
- After reading (and/or watching videos), synthesize what you've learned by completing the quiz, your journal entry, and your pre-class blog depending on whether you are in the "T" or "R" day/group. The quiz questions are limited to the content knowledge described in the the article and thus will test your knowledge and understanding of the pre-class assignments (readings, videos, etc.);
- See below for deadlines and quiz grades.
- During class we may engage in any of the following class activities:
- Introduction of the topic with a mini-lecture (if needed) or by highlighting the main points of the reading with a few of your pre-class blog entries;
- Small group discussion and activities;
- Discuss a case study.
- Hint: Bring your laptop to access the readings during class and to take notes in your journal document. You can later edit your class notes to turn them into the expected journal entries.
- After reflecting on the day's discussion, synthesize what you've learned by reviewing your class notes to finalize your post-class journal entry;
- See below for deadlines and quiz grades.
Note that your journal, pre-class blog entries, and the quizzes should be completed as your own individual effort. If you have access to materials from previous offerings of the course, the act of copying/pasting answers or partially editing answers from others is an instance of academic misconduct, the definition of which includes "any act aimed at making false representation of one's academic performance." The University has strict rules and provides for disciplinary action on this issue. Please see the UW academic misconduct page for more details.
Second, Team-based Graded Items: Multiple-step Literature Review, Analysis and Synthesis Project
Peer-Review Style Article:
Multi-media Website :
In-class Presentation and Discussion:
Deadlines and Grades
|Item||Main Category||Due date||Pts
|Individual Graded Elements|
|1: Pre-class blogs1a | Google doc entry16||Reflection & analysis||1:00 pm T or R|
|2: Pre-class Quizzes2||Knowledge||1:00 pm T & R||20||15|
|3: Journal3||Knowledge, reflection, analysis, written
communication, & critical analysis
|7:00 pm on F 01/31, 02/28, 03/27, and 05/01||16||16|
|4: Class Surveys4||Engagement||ongoing|
|Individual Graded sub-total||50||45|
|Team Project Graded Elements5|
|1: Annotated bibliography and outline||Researching & planning||3/05 & 3/10|
|2: Initial peer-review style article||Synthesis & critical thinking||3/12||5||10|
|3a: Initial team-led class discussion||Synthesis & oral communication||3/24-3/26||10||10|
|3b: Initial web page||Multi-media communication||3/24-3/26||5||5|
|4: Final peer-review style article||Synthesis & critical thinking||04/17||5||10|
|5a: Final web page||Multi-media communication||4/20-4/30||10||5|
|5b: Final team-led presentation||Synthesis & oral communication||4/20-4/30||10||10|
|Team Project sub-total||50||55|
1a: You will be assigned to post a pre-class blog entry on either Tuesday (T) or Thursday (R), but not both days. These entries will be graded based on the following criteria: 1.0 pt for thoughtful comments with probing thoughts / question (why or how); 0.5 pt for comments that may be relevant but not clearly connected to the pre-assigned material; 0.25 pt for superficial or poorly written comments; 0.0 pt for no pre-class blog entry by the deadline.
1b: Pre-blogs are replaced with entries in a google doc posted on specific dates as listed on the Schedule and Materials pages. Every student is expected to post an entry before class starts on the specified dates. These entries will be graded based on the following criteria: 1.0 pt for thoughtful comments with probing thoughts / question (why or how); 0.5 pt for comments that may be relevant but not clearly connected to the pre-assigned material; 0.25 pt for superficial or poorly written comments; 0.0 pt for no pre-class blog entry by the deadline.
2: You will be allowed two attempts at each quiz. Missing a quiz deadline will automatically result in a score of 0. However, the end of semester quiz grade will be calculated by averaging the score of every attempt after removing your two lowest scores.
3: Your journal will be due in the class dropbox on last Wednesday of every month (Jan. 29th; Feb. 26th, March 25th and April 29th). Each submission will be reviewed and graded on a scale of 0 to 4 points based on the following criteria: 4.0 pt for complete, thoughtful, clear, and concise journal entries demonstrating attention to details; 3.0 pt for journal entries that are well done, but lack in two of the four areas; 2.0 pt for journal entries that lack in three of the four areas superficial; 1.0 pt for incomplete, superficial, confusing and(or) poorly written entries; 0.0 pt for no journal submission by the deadline.
4: Class survey grade will be allocated based on student's completion of formative assessment tools (i.e., ungraded class survey or questionnaire) that will be administered throughout the semester and based on completion of the online end-of-semester course evaluation. Feedback from students on various aspects of the course are important for its improvement over time. More about these surveys can be found on the Survey Page.
5: Team grade adjustment: For each of the five phases of the project, team members will jointly make an initial plan (identify major steps, allocate tasks, set deadlines, etc.) of their respective contribution to the expected deliverable. At the deadline, each student will then complete a self evaluation along with an evaluation of team members for their actual contribution in relation to the initial plan. Adjustment points will be -2, -1, 0 (no adjustment, everyone in the team has the same grade), +1 or +2. The sum of your adjustment points will have to equal zero. In other words, if you give someone positive point(s) you will have to give someone else negative point(s).
6: How will final letter grade be assigned? A criterion-referenced grading will be used in this class and therefore you do not need to worry about your standing relative to others in this course. In fact, working together with others may be to everyone's advantage. The following is an approximate grading scale that the instructors will use to determine the letter grade associated with students' percentage achieved in the class (slightly from year to year may occur depending on specific circumstances). A = 100-90 | AB = 89-87 | B= 86-80 | BC = 79-77 | C = 76-70 | D = 69-60 | F = 59 or less.