Program Overview

Sustainable Food Systems

This course examines in depth food systems, with a specific focus on small holder sustainable agriculture.

These issues form the core of sustainability, and include such topics as ecology and natural resource management, food supply, permaculture, and the role of biological and sociological systems in global sustainability. Seminars and discussions  take place “in context” to the learning— i.e. reading about agroforestry, then going into an agroforest to study the plants growing there.  This is—literally—a “hands on” course. Students will get muddy tramping through the fields and blisters from working on the farm.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding of the key issues in sustainable agriculture and agroecology
  • Understanding the biological processes within agroecosystems
  • Knowledge of significant plants used in agroforests and agroecological farms
  • Understanding of the sociological dynamics related to agriculture for both upland and lowland peoples of Northern Thailand
  • Ability to successfully carry out the basic tasks related to sustainable agriculture, including composting, natural pesticide production, gardening skills and related tasks
  • Biological field survey methods, especially as related to agroforests and integrated farming
  • Proficiency with the tools of field research, including farm and village survey techniques, and the ability to carry out basic surveys in Thai
  • Knowledge of the struggles related to creating sustainable communities and people’s movements related to sustainable agriculture



    BLOCK 2

    Course Title

    Sustainable Food Systems: Social and Biological Factors in Sustainable Agriculture (ECODEV 401)


    4 Credits

    Academic Fields




    Agroecology surveys of fields and forests

    Work in gardens and fields

    Organic composting

    Learn plant propagation

    Selling vegetables in the market with host families

    Day and evening talks with villagers and agriculture development workers

    Experiential learning in tribal (Palong/Lahu/Karen) villages and lowland (Khon Müang) villages


    Extensive hiking while in the villages (to upland fields, etc.)

    Travel out to village sites and study areas


    Group housing at the Upland Holistic Development Project

    Homestays in Mae Taa and other villages with farming families


    Fang (Chiang Mai Province)

    Mae Taa (Chiang Mai Province)

    Learn More

    Semester Deadlines

    If you are interested in Spring 2022, you can apply now.

    Spring Semester 2022 application deadline: October 15

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