ES/SO 330 - Sustainable Food & Agriculture

The course sets out to equip students with a profound understanding of the complexity of food systems. It provides a broad overview of the manifold interlinkages between agriculture and food supply with regards to economic, ecological, social and individual well-being. By means of lectures, independent study and hands-on experiences, students will develop a personal approach to ecological food resources and learn how to use them in a sustainable manner. In this context, sustainability is referred to as the possibility of securing global nutrition in the long term, i.e. to preserve ecological, cultural and social resources as well as interrelated systems.

In Week 1, students will explore food through a cultural and individual perspective i.e. its importance for every single being and for the socio-economic development. What do we consider “food” and how our society gets access to it? Under which conditions do we consider food healthy, nutritious, sustainable?

Week 2 focuses on different forms of cultivation, principles and practices of permaculture, organic farming and urban foraging. The exploration of various approaches to the (sustainable) management of resources and application of different agricultural practices will also lead to discussing sociological issues.

Week 3 deepens the discourse on questions of access to land, seeds and other essential resources, the juxtaposition of food industry versus smallholder agriculture, challenges of food distribution and current concepts of food sovereignty. Discussing such socio-economic aspects of food production will bring the discussion full circle and revert to the role of human beings as producers as well as consumers of food and members of societies.

Throughout the 3-week module, examples from Freiburg and the region will be examined and put into context by means of case studies from other countries with varying global conditions. Lectures, course-related trips and class discussions are complemented by research work in individual group assignments, both in written and oral form. In discussions, students are invited to adopt the perspectives of various stakeholders (citizens, farmers, agrochemical companies, conservationists, authorities, etc.).

Course Information


Environmental Studies
Food Science

Term(s) Offered:




Language of instruction:


Contact Hours:


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