Global Dynamics and Local Threats in Agricultural Development
Many low- and middle-income countries in which agriculture plays a key role for development are characterized by high levels of socio-economic inequality, a mixed human rights record and a dominance of transnational corporate power in domestic agricultural export markets. At the same time, these countries face processes of environmental degradation through anthropogenic and natural drivers of change that affect the availability of ecosystem services and thus shape agricultural development and human wellbeing. This course offers an in-depth study of the political, socio-economic and social-ecological conditions for sustainable agricultural development in low- and middle-income countries. We explore the political economy of agricultural production and trade in countries that depend to a significant extent on the export of agricultural commodities as a source of foreign revenue. We examine the design and implementation of global policy frameworks, international agreements, and national strategies for agricultural production and trade, with a particular focus for the governance of natural resource use. Our goal is to assess the relevance and effectiveness of current governance structures for agriculture to respond to local-, regional-and global-scale environmental changes and socio-economic challenges in ways that address current and future human needs. Through case studies from selected agricultural sub-sectors and diverse countries from across Asia, Africa and Latin America, we investigate local strategies for natural resource use in the context of poverty, inequality, and environmental change. The course provides a comprehensive coverage of the political economy of agricultural development and an introduction to social-ecological systems analysis as a theoretical framework for interdisciplinary research in the field of sustainable development.