Agriculture and food industries are a subject of growing interest in terms of their resource requirements, ecological impacts, and sustainability. This course will provide a foundation in some of the methods of modeling and analysis used to study food systems. We will address several types of approaches, generally building in complexity, starting with net balances of production and consumption and continuing through modeling carrying capacity, foodshed analyses, life cycle assessment, and system dynamics and integrated modeling. Students will learn what types of questions are best addressed through modeling approaches, the methods used to conduct food systems models, and the data required to complete the analyses. In addition, they will have opportunities to conduct simple analyses through in-class exercises. Finally, students will learn how models might be relevant to the development of policy related to local and regional food systems or dietary changes to reduce environmental impact.
Instructor: Dr. Alexandra Thorn