Agriculture and food industries are a subject of growing interest in terms of their resource requirements, ecological impacts, and sustainability. With a focus on local and regional food systems in the United States, 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. Using a systems dynamics framework, students will learn modeling tools to quantify and understand net balances of production and consumption, understanding the human carrying capacity of a region, foodshed analyses, farm management, and integrated transdisciplinary modeling. Students will learn what types of questions are best addressed through different 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. We will also discuss the relevance and use of models in the development of policy related to local and regional food systems or dietary changes to reduce environmental impact. Prerequisite: An introductory GIS course (such as NUTR 0231: Fundamentals of GIS or GIS 101: Introduction to GIS) or instructor’s consent.
Instructor: Dr. Alexandra Thorn