Welcome to the Animal Agriculture and Sustainable Development

Animal Agriculture and Sustainable Development
Course Guide Information | Learning Objectives | Description | Expectations | Grades

Course Guide Information:
Working Title: "Livestock and Sustainability"
Course Listing: Dairy Science / Animal Sciences / Food Sciences 472
Date/Time: Wednedays 4:30-5:20 p.m.
Location: Room 209 Animal Sciences Building (1675 Observatory Dr.)
Instructor: Michel Wattiaux (wattiaux@wisc.edu).
TA: Bailey Fritsch (bfritsch2@wisc.edu).
Additional Info: This course partially fulfills the course requirements for the Food System Certificate (CALS), the Sustainability Certificate (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies), and the Global Health Certificate. This course contributes also to your eligibility to participated in an early summer two-week, two-credit Study Abroad Program in Mexico (i.e., this course is one of the alternative prerequisites for the "México program.") The combination of this course with the Study Abroad Program in Mexico allows you to complete CALS requirement for 3 credits of International Studies.

Learning Objectives
Students who actively participate in this class will gain knowledge and understanding of a few important issues related to farming systems around the world including:
  • The diversity of agricultural systems around the world;
  • The complexity and relative sustainability of food production systems across the globe;
  • Who should be feeding who in tomorrow's world? From subsistence farming, to local markets, to meeting national goals, and breaking into international markets;
  • The role of livestock in communities where poverty, hunger and marginalization is embedded as a way of life;
  • The historical, social, economic and political forces that shape rapid changes in agriculture around both the "developed" nations and the "developing" nations;
  • The increased interdependence of agricultural industries around the world.
An important additional goal is to help you gain competence in discussing international agricultural issues. 
Description
The Livestock Agriculture and Sustainable Development class is organized as a series of interactive in-class activities and discussions rather than a series of lectures. Although facts and figures are important and you are expected to remember some of them, the course is designed primarily to help you develop a critical appreciation for agricultural issues with an emphasis on human nutrition, sustainability and the development of "human capacity". The selected course materials, the classroom environment and the website have been designed to create an inclusive learning community. You will be called upon to share ideas with each other, discuss, and learn from the readings and other posted materials during class. There will be few right or wrong answers to questions and issues raised during this seminar, but rather all sorts of gray areas and a lot of "food for thoughts." The class is divided in the following main topics:
  • Part I - Feeding the World in the 21st Century: A Tale of Two Cities?
  • This first section provides a context and background information on world population and agricultural production tho serve human needs for access to a secure source of healthy food in nations around the world. The "two cities" in the title of this section is meant to make us realize that the "developed" world and the "developing" world are "worlds apart" when it comes to food and nutrition.  
  • Part II - Sustainability: What a "Wicked" Problem!
  • What is sustainability, sustainable development, and sustainable agriculture? In module two of the class, we will explore the sustainability as a concept that may be applicable to so many aspects of "life". For example we can discuss the sustainability of biological systems (e.g., animals, plants, ecosystems) but also our own "sustainability" (as individuals or as a human specie) or the sustainability of human constructs such as communities, markets, institutions, trades, and societies as a whole. 
  • Part III - Think Globally, Act Locally: Where is the Market?
  • This third section will contrast subsistence farming (no markets), to "market-oriented" farming, and producing commodities for the world market. What type of technology and institutions are needed to promote (or not) this wide range of farmer's mindset that can be found just about anywhere in the world today? Is global trade a friend or a foe of sustainable development?
  • Part IV - Breaking the Chains of Marginalization, Poverty and Hunger: Can it be done?
  • This is the last section of the course in which we will discuss what it would take to make a difference in the lives of the millions of peasants and their families who have been caught in an inextricable cycle of marginalization, poverty, and hunger?

Expectations: What am I expected to do in this class?

1) Prepare (read article and take a quiz), participate and reflect on weekly pre-assigned class materials:

To maximze the benefits from our discussions, it is important that you complete the reading assignments and other homework BEFORE class as described below. Your active participation before, during and after class will contribute greatly to your grade and the success of this class. So, here is a description of what I expect you to do between our Wednesday meetings and how we will share our thoughts and understanding with each other:
Before class:
  1. Do the readings and/or view the material for next Wednesday's class as described on the course schedule and material page;
  2. Complete the pre-class blog with thoughts/issues/questions you would like to discuss in our next class;
  3. Take an on-line quiz. Feel free to take a look at the quiz question before (or as you go along) reading the paper.
During class:
  • Bring a print out of the article and a notebook or your laptop to access the reading material in class.
  • Be actively engaged in class activities and discussions, do not be afraid to voice your opinions and thoughts;
  • Take notes, record the main points of the activities or the discussions, and your own take-home messages.
After class:
  1. Review your notes, and complete the post-class blog with your newly gained knowledge and insightful understanding for the class that is now over.
  2. Do the readings and/or view the material for next Wednesday's class as described above;

2) Take a midterm take-home exam:

You will be expected to complete a creative writing midterm exam. Instructions can be found here.  

3) Take a Final take-home exam:

You will be expected to complete a final take-home exam in which you will have to address selected topics of the class in a limited word count 


Grades: How will I earn my grade? The grading system has been designed to help you earn grade by meeting the expectations described above. The contribution of each graded course component in the final grade is presented below.

Table 1: Grade Allocation.
 Item  Category (main focus)  Due Dates  Points
 1.a. Pre-class blog entries  Preparation  W. 2:30 pm 15
 1.b. Quizzes (prior to class)  Preparation  W. 2:30 pm 20
 1.c. Attendance & in-class participation  Participation  W. 2:30 pm 5
 1.d. Participation in feedback activities (survey, evaluation, etc.)  Participation  W. 2:30 pm 5
 1.e. Post-class blog entries  Analysis & Synthesis  W. 2:30 pm 15
 2. Midterm   Analysis & Synthesis  5:00 pm F. March 15  20
 3. Take-home Final   Analysis & Synthesis  5:00 pm M. May 3 20
 Total      100

Pre-class blog entries will be graded based on the following criteria:
  • Thoughtful comments with probing thoughts / question (why or how): 1.0 pt
  • Comments that may be relevant but not clearly connected to the pre-assigned material: 0.5 pt
  • Superficial or poorly written comments:  0.25 pt
  • No blog entry by the deadline:  0.0 pt


Post-class blog entries will be graded based on the following criteria:
  • Thoughtful highlight or insightful summary of class activities or discussion in relation to the reading (class topic): 1.0 pt
  • Comments that may be relevant but not clearly connected to class activities or discussion: 0.5 pt
  • Superficial or poorly written comments:  0.25 pt
  • No blog entry by the deadline:  0.0 pt


Final Grade Assignment 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 because everybody could get an "A" and conversely, everybody could get an "F". In fact, working with others will likely be to everyone's advantage. Letter grades will be assigned according to the following tentative scale (which may vary slightly from year to year depending on specific circumstances): A = 100-94 | AB = 93-90 | B= 89-80 | BC = 79-78 | C = 77-70 | D = 69-60 | F = 59 or less.