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Feeding a Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Nutrition and Sustainability

SDG Academy via Independent

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About this Course:

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 & Research, 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 & Research.

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.

Course Structure and Requirements

The course is structured around 7 Modules of pre-recorded Videos, Readings, Comprehension Questions, and Assignments. Each of these course components can be completed at a time that is convenient for the student. 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 Live Q&A Sessions to encourage students to ask questions and engage directly with the instructors. These Sessions 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.


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?

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