Food and the Future Environment

Goals and Learning Objectives


Goals and Learning Objectives


  • Describe ways that food systems impact the earth system.
  • Explain the characteristics and scale of the three major food systems coexisting in the world today and their overlap.
  • Demonstrate the complexity and interconnectedness of food system types that connecting society to the environment in different ways within a globalized world.
  • Construct an assessment that measures the impacts of food systems on the earth system and local environments.

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Define food systems and name the component systems, the roles played by each, and the three dominant and overlapping types of food systems in the world today.
  • Name different types of impacts of the food system on earth’s natural systems.
  • Define the basic elements of a coupled human-natural system.
  • Describe a life cycle assessment (LCA) and state what it is used for.
  • Explain examples of food systems to illustrate and compare their combined social and environmental inputs and impacts.
  • Apply the concept of natural human systems to food systems and distinguish different ways that food systems develop and change because of human and natural factors.
  • Apply a coupled natural system framework to describe how human systems affect earth’s natural systems within food systems.
  • Construct life-cycle assessments using data on food production activities that compare the impacts of different types of food systems on the earth systems.
  • Synthesize outputs of LCAs you have constructed to compare impacts of different food production systems.