149 Home | Syllabus | Weekly Schedule & Quizzes | Cleveland's classes | Cleveland's homepage |

World Agriculture, Food and Population
Environmental Studies149/Geography 161

K SBC World Swabi, Pakistan Oaxaca, MX, Delfino selecting
Groundnut harvest, Kusaok, Ghana Strawberry harvest, S Barbara County, USA   Irrigating sugar cane, Swabi, Pakistan Selecting maize seed, Oaxaca, Mexico

The challenge to agriculture has never been greater than it is at the beginning of the 21st century. World food production over the last 12,000 years has been able to keep up with the demand for food as farming spread from its centers of origin, and as farmers developed new crop varieties and technologies. Modern industrial agriculture and the green revolution have greatly increased yields. However, the human population of 7+ billion is currently doubling every 40 years, the negative impact of agricultural production on the Earth's natural resource base is increasing, the social and economic structure of agriculture is changing dramatically, and many millions of people continue to be malnourished.

Consequently, the search for a balance between the food requirements of a growing population, and the need to produce and distribute food in ways that are more environmentally benign, socially equitable, and economically viable dominates discussions of local and global futures. But there are many different ways of defining the problem, which lead to different solutions.

The class will cover the theory and data underlying fundamental food, population and agriculture issues, illustrated by case studies from around the world. We will analyze different problem definitions and solutions in terms of theories, assumptions, data, and values.



Site and photos copyright © 2001 to end of Anthropocene by David A. Cleveland


Topics include:

  • the world food crisis-past and present
  • population growth, agricultural production and nutrition
  • environmental, social and economic sustainability
  • large-scale industrial v. small-scale traditionally-based agriculture
  • soil, water and genetic resources for food production
  • local and global human carrying capacities
  • geochemical cycles and global warming
  • diet, food security, food sovereignty
  • farm labor and migration
  • common pool resource management
  • agroecosystems management
  • diversity, stability and risk
  • plant breeding and biotechnology
  • farmer and scientist knowledge and collaboration

Students attend two lectures and one discussion section each week. Written assignments are due in section each week. There are 3 scheduled quizzes (best 2 count), 4 unscheduled short quizzes, and a final exam. There is no research paper.

Prerequisite for this course is Upper-division standing.

THIS CLASS IS A PREREQUISITE for ES 166FP/Geog 171FP (Small-Scale Food Production), and

ES 157 undergrad version of seminar (ES157/257 Santa Barbara County Agrifood System)