COOL CLASSES: “The Future of Farming: Controversies in Agricultural Development”

This environmental studies course investigates ongoing debates on the trajectory of agricultural development, with attention to the intersection of scientific and political issues.

Class name: “The Future of Farming: Controversies in Agricultural Development”

Taught by: Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Rafter Sass Ferguson


Here’s what Ferguson had to say about his class:

I have two broad goals for the class. At the level of content, I want to support students in building a deeper understanding of some specific issues—hot-button issues about how we produce our food and other products—issues like GMOs, organic vs. conventional, adaptation to climate change, and others. Beyond that, I want students to come away from this class with the skills to trace the tangled connections between science and politics in agriculture, so that they can forge their own perspective and more effectively advocate for the food system they desire.

In agriculture—as in so many sectors—we face a highly polarized discourse that makes it hard to evaluate the claims of any side. Agribusiness advocates frame their position as a rational and scientific approach to alleviating world hunger, and thereby frame advocates for organic and alternative agriculture as a privileged anti-science elite. Advocates for alternatives to industrial agriculture sometimes play right into this framing. I designed this course to create a space for students to cut though the hyperbole and obfuscation and dig into the fundamental issues in all their complexity.

See what other courses Environmental Studies is offering this semester.

Photo illustration by Rafter Sass Ferguson.

Cool Classes is a series that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford experience