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Teaching: Courses and Programs

Teaching: Courses and Programs

In addition to research, FSE provides the educational foundation for graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford interested in the areas of hunger, rural development, sustainable agriculture, and related fields. Meeting the increasing demand and expanding the curriculm remains a primary goal of FSE.

While FSE is not a degree-granting center our research fellows teach the following food security related courses through other Stanford departments:


Civil and Environmental Engineering 277G/MED 277 - Health and Development at the Food-Water Nexus. 1 unit. Winter. Not offered this year.

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

Earth Systems 61Q/EESS 61Q/INTNLREL 61Q - Food and Security. 5 units. Autumn. Not offered this year.

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. Food and security is taught by Rosamond L. Naylor and Stephen J. Stedman.

Earth Systems 112/History 103D - Human Society and Environmental Change. 4 units. Autumn.

Introduction to the interdisciplinary concepts of human dimensions of global change. Focus areas include economics, policy, culture, and history. Human Society and Environmental Change is co-taught by Rosamond L. Naylor, Rodrigo Pizarro, and History professor Zepher Frank.

Earth Systems 173/273 - Aquaculture and the Environment: Science, History, and Policy. 3 units. Spring. Not offered this year.

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. Course taught by Rosamond L. Naylor, Andy Gerhart, and Dane Klinger.

Earth Systems 180/280 - The Fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture. 3 units. Not offered this year.

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

Earth Systems 184/284 - Climate and Agriculture. 3 units. Not offered this year. Econ 106/206 prereq.

This course is taught by David Lobell with support from Rosamond L. Naylor. The class has a strong modeling focus and includes several analytical exercises.

Earth Systems 211/EESS 211 - Fundamentals of Modeling. 3 units. Autumn.

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. Taught by David Lobell.

Econ 106/206 - The World Food Economy. 5 units. Winter.

The World Food Economy is a course co-taught by Rosamond L. Naylor and Walter P. Falcon through Stanford's Department of Economics. The 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.


Special Graduate Seminars

EESS 318 - Global Land Use Change to 2050. Winter 2012. Not offered this year.

Instructors: David Lobell and Visiting Scholar Thomas Hertel, Professor of Agriculture, Purdue University.

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.

The structure of each class will be:
1) 30 minute presentation on topic led by faculty, followed by 15 minutes of general discussion
2) 15 minute discussion of numerical simulations, led by students
3) 60 minute discussion of week’s readings led by students

ENVRES 220D/EESS 320 - Agricultural Systems in Emerging Economies. 2 units. Spring 2011. Not offered this year.

Instructors: Peter Vitousek and Rachael Garrett

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.


Graduate-level 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). Currently, eight E-IPER PhD students are associated with the FSE program. 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 Student Alumni 

Jennifer Burney, Postdoctral Scholar, 2010

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

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)

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

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

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)

Justin McGrath, Postdoctoral Scholar, 2011

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

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

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

Kaitlin ShillingPhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2012

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

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