Feeding a Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Nutrition and Sustainability

Feeding a Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Nutrition and Sustainability, explores the key challenges to ensuring a healthy and sustainable diet for our growing world population, as well as the central role of agriculture in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The course is led by Achim Dobermann of Rothamsted Research, and also features Jessica Fanzo of Johns Hopkins University, Ken Giller of Wageningen University, Upmanu Lall of Columbia University, Michael Lee of Rothamsted Research, William Masters of Tufts University, Rebecca Nelson of Cornell University, and Johan Verreth of Wageningen University. 

The agriculture sector is a critical player in sustainable development; it is at the heart of issues such as food security, malnutrition, ecosystem management, and the responsible production and consumption of food. However, without the proper policy frameworks and programs to guide our global food system there is the risk of exacerbating inequality and harming our environment.

This course provides a historical overview of the past 50 years of agricultural development, the consequences of continuing along this trajectory, and key levers for improvement. The course highlights key technological advancements and interventions to produce more and better quality food while simultaneously achieving social and environmental goals. 

By joining this course, you are becoming part of a global movement of citizens and practitioners committed to revolutionizing the way we think about our food system. The success of the course depends on an active student base that represents a diversity of experiences, geographies, and perspectives.

Add your voice to the global discussion by registering today! 

Course Structure and Requirements

The course is structured around a series of pre-recorded lectures, readings, quizzes, discussion forums, and other activities. Each of these course components can be completed at a time that is convenient for the student, and most quizzes and timed activities are given a two-week window for completion. The material for each week is made available each Monday, and once the material has been opened, it remains open for the duration of the course.  

In addition to the asynchronous components of the course, the instructors will hold real-time Google Hangouts to encourage students to ask questions and engage directly with the instructors. These Hangouts will be announced 1-2 weeks in advance.  

The estimated time commitment to complete all course components is 4-6 hours per week, though this depends heavily on the student and his/her objectives in taking the course.

All students who successfully complete the course will receive a digital certificate of completion, signed by the instructors. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the quizzes and final exam, all of which are multiple choice. Students that score 85% or higher will receive certificates of completion with distinction. While this course is not credit granting, we encourage students to work with their own institutions to explore the option of granting credit for online coursework. 


Module 1. The global challenges around food 

1.1 Introduction to this MOOC

1.2 Global challenges around food

1.3 Case study 1: Rice

1.4 Case study 2: Smallholder farming

1.5 Case study 3: Livestock

1.6 Case study 4: Aquaculture


Module 2. Agriculture at the center of sustainable development 

2.1 Emergence of modern agriculture

2.2 Risks under a Business-As-Usual scenario

2.3 Agriculture & the Sustainable Development Goals


Module 3. Food systems for nutritional security and better health 

3.1 What is food security?

3.2 Nutrition and health

3.3 Consumption and diets  

3.4 Food losses and waste

3.5 Socio-economic dynamics of food systems

3.6 Pathways towards food security


Module 4. Sustainable intensification of agricultural systems – Part 1

4.1 Sustainable agriculture intensification

4.2 The importance of productivity growth

4.3 Climate change adaptation and mitigation

4.4 Breeding and genetics

4.5 Nutrient management

4.6 Soil fertility management


Module 5. Sustainable intensification of agricultural systems – Part 2 

5.1 Water management

5.2 Crop protection

5.3 Good agronomy

5.4 Sustainable livestock systems

5.5 & 5.6 Functional diversity I & II


Module 6: Rural development for poverty alleviation

6.1 Rural economies and urban linkages

6.2 Rural development

6.3 Markets and supply chains

6.4 International trade

6.5 Development enhancing investments

6.6 Food governance


Module 7: Action for change

7.1 Pathways to change

7.2 Monitoring change

7.3 Mechanisms to stimulate change

7.4 Investing in science

7.5 What can I do?

0 Student
Cost Free Online Course
Pace Finished
Institution SDSN.Edu
Provider Independent
Language English
Calendar 9 weeks long

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FAQ View All
What are MOOCs?
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These are free online courses from universities around the world (eg. Stanford Harvard MIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you.  They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.

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