Friday, November 22, 2013

New GenEd N&M Course!

Valuing Variety: Agrobiodiversity

CLLC-L 230 (Section 30855) 

with GenEd and N&M credit | 3 credit hours

10:10-11:00am | M/W/F | Cravens B


Instructor: Madeline Chera, Department of Anthropology,


It is estimated that 90% of the fruit and vegetable varieties that grew historically in the U.S. are now gone, and scientists tell us that we are in the middle of a period of dramatic loss of agricultural genetic resources, following similar trends in biological diversity more generally. The global dependence on a narrowing group of plant varieties and livestock breeds has prompted many large-scale conservation efforts aimed at maintaining agricultural diversity and documenting the local farmer knowledge that has helped shape and preserve it. These efforts are rooted in Western conceptions of biodiversity more generally. However, unlike other forms of conservation, which often involve restriction of human influence on other biological life, agrobiodiversity is defined by the interaction between humans and their food over time. People are at the center of this issue, and cultural and political issues are critical to conservation.




The course is open to all! However, you might be especially interested in this course if...


  • you need N&M credit.
    • Students who are more comfortable with the social sciences and humanities, but who are looking to engage with biological and environmental science issues (for N&M credit) might like this course. We will be examining agriculture and biodiversity through the lenses of history, culture, and policy, in addition to going over some basic scientific concepts.
  • you want to approach one topic from multiple directions.
    • Students who are interested in focusing on a single theme in an interdisciplinary way (for Gen. Ed. credit) might like this course. We will be working with readings and other media from several different fields, and hearing from various perspectives, like farmers, activists, and scientists.
  • you are “over" giant lecture courses.
    • Students who enjoy smaller classes, and are comfortable with a seminar format, mixing some lecture with open discussion, might like this course. We will be fostering an intimate, friendly learning environment.
  • you like food.
    • Students who are passionate about food sustainability and food justice, as well as those students who are just a little curious about food studies, might like this course. We will be learning about crop breeding, the benefits and drawbacks of having different types of food sources, and political and social issues related to agriculture.
  • you like the environment.
    • Students who care about environmental conservation and want to explore one of the most critical arenas of human-environment interaction, agriculture, might like this course. We will be following discussions about agrobiodiversity from imperial natural history to current international policy.

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