Module 2: Geographic and Historical Context
This second module in the Future of Food course provides a historical overview of the emergence and development of food systems until the present. Module 2.1, the first half of this module, describes the transition from hunting and gathering to the domestication of crop plants in human prehistory, including the origin of major food crop plants and the locations and processes of domestication, e.g. the emergence of wheat in the eastern Mediterranean or the potato in the Andean region. These processes are seen through the lens of the coupled human-natural systems framework that is introduced in Module 1 and used throughout the course. As part of this historical overview, concepts surrounding human interaction with crop plants and wild relatives are introduced such as the global regions supporting domestication or centers of diversity; or the concept of niche construction as a clear example of human-natural systems interaction. In the second half, module 2.2, we describe the history of food systems as four successive stages during which human innovation responded to both human and natural drivers and feedbacks. These stages span from early domestication activities to the most recent transitions of agriculture and food production towards more globalized trade networks, along with facing the challenges of sustainability.