The Agroecosystems of New York
New York City | Hudson and Harlem Valleys | New Jersey
6 credits, 6 weeks
Summer 2019: July 1 – August 9
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% of land in the United States, 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, the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 to 3 billion people, and there is considerable research and debate on whether we can sustainably feed humanity without jeopardizing environmental sustainability.
The SEE-U NYC course provides students an opportunity to examine and in-depth agroecosystems. The course makes use of the diverse array of farms and food systems in New York City and its surrounding environs. Lectures introduce students to the foundations of ecosystem ecology and conservation, focusing on agroecosystems such as farms, rooftop operations, pastures, grazing lands, orchards, and plantations. The course also covers food systems, or “food to fork” pathways. SEE-U NYC couples lectures at Columbia University’s Morningside Campus with field excursions and lab exercises, allowing students to apply ecological concepts to real-world examples of agroecosystems. Field trips are conducted weekly and include visits to urban farms, small rural and peri-urban farms, and local food purveyors and distributors to expose students to the breadth of local and regional agroecosystems and food systems.
Example Syllabus: SEE-U NYC 2017 Course Syllabus (PDF)
Example Day-by-Day Schedule: SEE-U NYC Course Schedule (PDF)