Innovative Farming Systems for the 21st Century
Online Class (offered during the summer and winter terms)
Course Overview: This new course explores the subject of Urban Agriculture through the investigation and evaluation of real life urban farm systems. Online presentations by the instructor and a custom, library research guide provide a strong foundation for students to explore contemporary methods and critical issues of modern day urban food production. Students will be introduced to Agroecology and evaluate urban farms as complicated, dynamic systems with a range of outcomes and benefits. The course will consist of readings, quizzes, and research assignments in which students critically assess major strengths, weaknesses and implications of 21st century urban farm systems.
1. To implement Agroecology and case study research as a way of learning about principles and practices in urban farm systems
2. To understand the origins and driving forces of urban agriculture and why it is needed in the context of current events and contemporary issues.
3. To learn critical thinking, scholarly research, and communication skills in an online classroom.
1. Attendance and participation 30% - Attendance and participation is imperative. Students are expected to engage fully with the online classroom to access course content, take quizzes, complete assignments, receive feedback from the instructor, and interact with each other. This course utilizes open-source information, which requires that students navigate the Internet, library databases and web-based media as instructed. Quizzes and discussions will largely account for participation.
2. Research Paper 45% - Students will choose a specific urban farm (case study) or special topic as the focus of rigorous, self-directed research. Students will learn how to conduct systematic analysis and assessment aided by research methods developed by the instructor and to synthesize existing knowledge gathered from the UMass library databases. The final product is a scholarly report that evaluates a real-life farm system or critical topic and presents evidence for the impact of urban agriculture in contemporary issues. This assignment equips students with the information they need to participate in the class dialogue.
3. Class dialogue 25% - The class dialogue is an online “space” where students meet to ask and respond to important questions about 21st century Urban Agriculture. It is an opportunity to develop and share critical inquiries for the research paper, give and receive constructive feedback, and learn more about the subject through each other’s research. The quality and quantity of student’s participation in class dialogue are evaluated for credit.
Research Paper - clearly presents the case study analysis and assessment, a discussion of the individual research topic synthesizing current research and evidence, and conclusive findings. Conclusive findings can be a) an outline of recommendations for improving case study performance, and/or b) a successful, replicable model with a set of prescriptive steps for implementing a project in new locations. Conclusive findings must be rooted in case study analysis and assessment and reinforced with additional, appropriately cited, scholarly research. A list of references will be required.
All reading assignments will be made available through the class blackboard system.
Suggested Texts (not required)
Gottlieb, Robert. Environmentalism Unbound., 2002.
Holmgren, David. Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond sustainability, 2002.
Jacke, Dave. Edible Forest Gardens, 2005.
Viljoen, Andre, et al. Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes. Oxford: Architectural, 2005.
De la Salle, Janine. Agricultural Urbanism: Handbook for Building Sustainable Food Systems in 21st Century Cities, 2010
Fox, Thomas J. Urban Farming: Sustainable City Living in Your Backyard, in Your Community, and in the World” BowTie Press, 2011
Reich, Lee, Weedless Gardening, 2001, & Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, 2004
Smith, J. Russell, Tree Crops for a Permanent Agriculture, 1929
For information contact Helena Farrell at email@example.com
This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Series A UMass Certificate may be earned by the successful completion of 15 credits of approved courses in this series. For information, contact Dr. John M. Gerber at; firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about other online courses that meet the requirements of the UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate or the Bachelor of Science Program, see: http://people.umass.edu/jgerber/degree.html
@2013 John M. Gerber