The Agroecosystems of New York and the surrounding areas

New York City | Hudson and Harlem Valleys |  New Jersey
6 credits, 6 weeks
Summer 2018: July 2nd–August 10th (tentative)

SEE-U NYC: The Agroecosystems of New York and the surrounding areas

Perhaps the single most pressing challenge humanity faces this century is how to sustainably produce and distribute food to an ever growing, increasingly urbanized population. Nearly two-thirds of the ecosystems of the world have been converted or are managed to provide food, fuel and fiber for our current population of 7.2 billion people.  Over 44 percent of land in the U.S., for example, is already under cultivation, yet over 12 million children in our country suffer from hunger and one in seven households suffer from food insecurity. By 2050, another two to three billion people will join our population, the majority of them living in urban environments, and considerable research and debate surrounds whether we can sustainably feed humanity without jeopardizing environmental sustainability.

SEE-U NYC provides an in-depth examination and analysis of agro-ecosystems, from community gardens to global markets.  The course makes use of the extraordinarily diverse array of farms and food systems in New York City and its surrounding environs.  Lectures review the natural and social science foundations of ecosystem ecology and conservation, but focus specifically on agro-ecosystems, including farms, rooftop operations, pastures, grazing lands, orchards, and plantations.  The material also covers food systems, or the “food to fork” pathways from growing to harvesting to processing to packaging to transporting to marketing to consuming, and includes recycling, composting, and waste disposal.  Structured as an immersive summer class, SEE-U NYC meets five days a week for six week, and couples lectures at Columbia University’s Morningside Campus with field excursions and exercises to bring the material to life.  Every week we will conduct field trips to urban farms, small rural and peri-urban farms, and local food purveyors and distributors to get a comprehensive look at the local agro/food systems of New York City and its surrounding environs.


2017 Syllabus: SEE-U NYC 2017 Course Syllabus (PDF)

2017 Day-by-Day Schedule: SEE-U NYC Course Schedule (PDF)