Food and the Future Environment

Summary and Final Tasks


Summary and Final Tasks


Agriculture is the most widely practiced and influential environment-food system though it is not the only one---either historically or at present. Environment-food systems in general and agriculture, in particular, are a complex coupled system that combines human and natural systems and underlies human life, cultural, and social functions. The distinct human-environment interactions of agriculture, including domestication and the management of diverse habitats for raising plants and animals, have existed for upwards of 10,000 years and were preceded and co-exist with other environment-food systems such as hunting-gathering. Human-environment interactions were as integral to the origins of agriculture as they are to our understandings of modern industrial agriculture and farming alternatives in our current period of history. Human-environment interactions also can help to understand the history of food systems between the onset of agriculture and the present day. Considering human-environment interactions in the context of the historical and geographic parameters mentioned above provides an overview that serves to introduce the following two sections of the course that focus on environmental systems (Modules 4-9) and social systems (Modules 10-11). The systems concepts of drivers and feedbacks in the development and functioning of food systems should also help you to understand the focal region you will examine in your capstone project.

Reminder - Complete all of the Module 2 tasks!

You have reached the end of Module 2! Double-check the to-do list on the Module 2 Roadmap to make sure you have completed all of the activities listed there before moving onto Module 3!

Further Reading

  • Brookfield, Harold. Agrodiversity. New York: Colombia University Press, 2002.
  • Brookfield, H., Padoch, C., Parsons, H., & Stocking, M. 2004. Cultivating biodiversity: understanding, analyzing and using agricultural diversity.
  • Crosby, Alfred, Ecological Imperialism: The biological expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition 2004.
  • DeLind, Laura. "Transforming organic agriculture into industrial organic products: Reconsidering national organic standards." Human Organization 59(2): 198-208, 2000.
  • Diamond, J. Evolution, consequences and future of plant and animal domestication. Nature 418 (6898): 700-707, 2002.
  • Dunn, Rob. Never Out of Season: How Having the Food We Want When We Want It Threatens Our Food Supply and Our Future. Little, Brown and Company. 2017.
  • Duram, Leslie. Good Growing: Why organic farming works. U of Nebraska Press, 2005.
  • Pollan, Michael. The botany of desire: A plant's-eye view of the world. Random House, 2001.
  • Smith, Bruce D. The Emergence of Agriculture. New York: Scientific American Library, 1995.