Food and Nutrition Security for Sustainable Development
This policy-oriented course will examine structures and processes that result in varying food security outcomes across space and time. Food security outcomes reflect interactions among political, economic, socio-cultural, and physical environmental systems. These systems, which are both dynamic and permeable, give rise to particular forms and patterns of food production, distribution, and consumption, and to more or less environmentally-sustainable uses of the natural resources critical to food and nutrition security. Ultimately, food security is realized when all people within a population consume sufficient nutrients to live active and healthy lives. This normative focus on human health and well-being, as the metric by which food security outcomes will be measured, is critical to the framing of this course. Political, economic, and social institutions--positioned at scales encompassing global, national, “local” (micro-regional, community), and household--are simultaneously charged with producing food in particular physical environments and/or making food available and accessible to their populations, and with protecting environmental resources and public health in ways that contribute to nutritional components of human development. The term “political ecology” has been used to describe an analytical framework that explicitly focuses on the interactions among the structures of political economy and those of physical/biological ecologies (including human), together with the socio-cultural contexts that influence structural impacts and help to explain outcomes. This framework incorporates both an explicit navigation among scales (of power and of analysis) and a long-term perspective. Cumulatively, the readings and exercises of this course will build a political ecology of policy domains central to improving food security and nutrition outcomes in both global north and south. We will examine policy issues and constituencies, institutional approaches, theoretical perspectives, and empirical analyses. You will have opportunities to engage with institutional approaches through structured exercises, including a mid-term graded exercise. You will also have an opportunity to produce an independent project that will include your own policy recommendations.