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Teaching: Courses and Programs


In addition to research, FSE provides the academic foundation for the growing number of graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford interested in the areas of hunger, rural development, sustainable agriculture, and related fields. While FSE is not a degree-granting center our researchers teach the following food security related courses through other Stanford departments.

*Not all classes are offered every quarter or every year. Please consult Stanford's course schedule for current offerings by department.

The World Food Economy (Econ 106/206)

This class examines the interrelationships among food, populations, resources, and economic development, and the role of agricultural and rural development in achieving economic and social progress in low-income nations. Emphasis is on public-sector decision-making as it relates to food policy. Professor: Rosamond L. Naylor

Climate and Agriculture (Earth Systems 184/284)

The class has a strong modeling focus and includes several analytical exercises. Professors: David LobellRosamond L. Naylor


Food and Security (Earth Systems 61Q/International Relations 61Q)

The course will provide a broad overview of key policy issues concerning agricultural development and food security, and will assess how global governance is addressing the problem of food security. At the same time the course will provide an overview of the field of international security, and examine how governments and international institutions are beginning to include food in discussions of security. Professors: Rosamond L. Naylor and Stephen J. Stedman.


Health and Development at the Food-Water Nexus (Civil and Environmental Engineering 277G/Medicine 277 ) 

Linkages between water access, smallholder food production, poverty, and infectious disease, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa. Weekly reading, writing and discussion assignments focused on topics such as water supply, sanitation, and HIV: smallholder production, nutrition, and poverty; and infectious disease and child development. Permission of instructors required. Professors: Rosamond L. Naylor, Jenna Davis, and Eran Bendavid


Human Society and Environmental Change (Earth Systems 112/History 103D)

Introduction to the interdisciplinary concepts of human dimensions of global change. Focus areas include economics, policy, culture, and history. Professors: Rosamond L. Naylor, Rodrigo Pizarro, and History professor Zepher Frank.

Aquaculture and the Environment: Science, History, and Policy (Earth Systems 173/273)

Global demand for seafood is increasing, wild fishery catches are stagnant or decreasing, and aquaculture production is growing rapidly to fill the gap between supply and demand. This course will examine the potential of aquaculture to feed billions of people without damaging aquatic ecosystems or adversely impacting local communities. The first third of the course will provide a general understanding of aquaculture science and management. Next we will examine case studies throughout the world (including salmon farming in Chile, bluefin tuna ranching in the Mediterranean, shrimp farming in Vietnam, and others). The final third will examine current federal and state aquaculture legislation and discuss how science and management mechanisms can be best incorporated into policy. The class will include a field trip to an aquaculture farm, contact with NGO and Government experts working on seafood consumption, and several guest lectures by resident Stanford experts. Professor: Rosamond L. Naylor.


The Fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture (Earth Systems 180/280)

The Fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture is an Earth Systems survey course for undergraduate and graduate students. Professor: Rosamond L. Naylor.

Fundamentals of Modeling (Earth Systems 211)

Simulation models are a powerful tool for environmental research, if used properly. The major concepts and techniques for building and evaluating models. Topics include model calibration, model selection, uncertainty and sensitivity analysis, and Monte Carlo and bootstrap methods. Emphasis is on gaining hands-on experience using the R programming language. Prerequisite: basic knowledge of statistics. Professor: David Lobell.

Special Graduate Seminars

Global Land Use Change to 2050 (Earth Systems 318)

The workshop will consist of 10 weekly meetings, each covering a different dimension of global land use change. Background readings will be offered on each topic. In addition, participants will utilize a relatively simple, aggregate economic model of global land use to assess the relative importance of the different forces bearing on the long run supply and demand for land. Professor: David Lobell


Agricultural Systems in Emerging Economies (Environment and Resources 220D/Earth Systems Science 320)

This interdisciplinary seminar examines the social, economic, institutional, and ecological aspects of agricultural systems in emerging economies, with a specific focus on India, Indonesia, Brazil, and China – four countries that play a critical in the world food economy and also contain a larger amount of the world’s food insecure. The course begins with an overview of the world food economy, food security, and the global trade of natural resources and then focuses on the agricultural systems in Brazil, India, Indonesia and China.  Each seminar will begin with a short lecture by guest Stanford faculty, followed by a discussion of questions posed by lecturers and the required readings. Students are expected to attend regularly, to summarize the content and relevance of one assigned reading, and to assist in leading discussion for the week that reading is discussed. The goal of the course is to provide an overview of human-environment feedbacks in various agricultural regimes throughout the world, and to explore opportunities for positive interventions. Professor: Peter Vitousek.


Graduate Programs

Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER)

The Center on Food Security and the Environment works closely with graduate students from the Emmett Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER). They work alongside program fellows on research ranging from drought in Africa, palm oil development in Indonesia, sugar ethanol in Brazil to farmed salmon in Chile. Most students obtain their support (and offices) via the E-IPER program.


Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment offers postdoctoral scholars, graduate and undergraduate students valuable education and support to advance their research and maximize its impact. Through a variety of training and mentorship programs focused on skills, knowledge and networks, Woods give students the communications and leadership skills to become global leaders in their fields. Through grants and stipends, it helps young researchers move their ideas into action. Click here for information on education programs offer through Woods and here for more information on student involvement. 



FSE Alumni
Recent FSE postdoctoral scholars, and Stanford PhD graduates who worked closely with us on food security research. 

Rodrigo PizarroPhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2012, FSE postdoctoral scholar, 2013


Current position: Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Organizational Theory, University of Santiago, Chile

Rachael GarrettPhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2013

Current position: Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Sustainability Science Program, Harvard University

Joanne Gaskell, PhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2012

Current position: World Bank Young Professionals Program, World Bank (Washington, DC)

Kristen Honey, PhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2012

Current position: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Policy Fellow, Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program, Department of Energy (Washington, DC)

Kaitlin ShillingPhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2012

Current position: Advisor at MAP Training Academy, PT. Mitra-Adiperkasa, Tbk (Indonesia)

Holly Gibbs, Postdoctoral Scholar, 2011

Current position: Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Geography, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Justin McGrath, Postdoctoral Scholar, 2011

Current position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois

Jennifer Burney, Postdoctoral Scholar, 2010

Current position: Assistant professor of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Policy, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California-San Diego

Matei Georgescu, Postdoctoral Scholar, 2010

Current position: Senior Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability, Assistant Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Adjunct Professor, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University


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