Course Description

Course Name

Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Session: VSJW1120

Hours & Credits

60 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


COURSE NAME: Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
*This syllabus is tentative and subject to change. A new copy will be provided if changes are made.*

This course will examine agricultural and food systems from an ecological systems perspective. After establishing a
foundation of basic ecological concepts (relationships and interactions between abiotic/non-living and biotic/living
components of an ecosystem), different applications of these concepts to agricultural systems will be investigated.
Consumption and production issues related to food system sustainability will be analyzed, and students will explore
their own role in the food system. Field trips will provide opportunities for direct observation of (and interaction with)
different approaches to food production and distribution in Costa Rica.

Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:
? Define sustainability
? Describe basic ecological principles upon which agriculture is based and how these are exploited
? Understand the biophysical needs of plants and how these are met in conventional and alternative agriculture
? Appreciate the biological, social/cultural, economic, and political aspects of food systems
? Comment on various current approaches to agriculture in Costa Rica
? Recognize their own role in a food system
? Discuss literature related to agriculture from an ecological perspective

None. An open mind and enthusiasm are helpful when learning any subject!

You are expected to attend every class meeting; however, you are allowed two unexcused absences. Emergency absences will be excused when proper documentation is provided. Three late arrivals count as one absence. If you miss class it is your responsibility to get missed notes, etc., and you are still be responsible for turning in all assignments on time. If you know you will be absent please talk to me in advance, and if you are unexpectedly absent, please contact me as soon as possible. Field trip attendance is mandatory; absence from a field trip will result in failure of the course.
We will be respectful of one another in class; this means appreciating that we all have different backgrounds, and also that no one else will speak when someone is addressing the class. Any behavior that inhibits others' learning will not be tolerated. Such behavior will result in dismissal from class (unexcused absence). Texting is not allowed in class.
Details of assignments will be discussed in class. Written assignments must be submitted electronically.
There will be two exams. The second exam will cover the second half of the course, but keep in mind we will be building
on what we learn throughout the session (the subject matter is cumulative in nature).
Field Trips
We will take two field trips: 26-28 July and 2-4 August. Details to be determined and discussed in class.

Exams (2) 20%
Current events in Costa Rican agriculture (2) 10%
Case study of a Costa Rican crop 10%
Creative presentation of an agroecology concept 10%
Sustainable shopping 10%
Design an agroecosystem 10%
Field trip reports (2) 30%

Electronic devices:
The use of cell phones, smart phones, or other mobile communication devices is disruptive,
and is therefore prohibited during class. Please turn all devices OFF and put them away
when class begins. Devices may be used ONLY when the professor assigns a specific
activity and allows the use of devices for internet search or recording. Those who fail to
comply with the rule must leave the classroom for the remainder of the class period.
Gliessman SR. 2006. Agroecology: the ecology of sustainable food systems. 2nd ed. CRC Press. 408 p.
Vandermeer, JH. 2009. The ecology of agroecosystems. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 350 p.
These texts will be available in the library and electronically. Specific sections from these texts and readings from other sources will be assigned in class.

*Course content subject to change