Providing an academic foundation for Stanford students interested in global food security issues

Current Courses

FSE provides an academic foundation for graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford interested in global food security issues such as hunger, poverty, rural development, sustainable agriculture, global resources, environmental degradation, agricultural technology, climate impacts on food security, and agricultural trade and policy. While FSE is not a degree-granting center our researchers teach the following food security related courses through other Stanford departments.

    Climate and Society
  • Climate and Society
  • Field Survey Data Collection & Analysis
  • Feeding Nine Billion
  • Food and Security
  • Fundamentals of Modeling
  • Human Society and Environmental Change
  • World Food Economy
  • Previous Courses

Climate and Society

How and why is the climate changing? How might a changing climate affect human society? And what can we do to alter the course of climate change and adapt to any climatic changes that do occur? This course provides an introduction to the natural science and social science of climate change. The focus is on what science tells us about the causes, consequences, and solutions to climate change, as well as on how scientific progress is made on these issues.

Field Survey Data Collection & Analysis

We examine a range of issues related to the collection and analysis of survey data. Topics include initiating a survey, designing an instrument, conducting enumeration, converting data from questionnaires to digital files, data analysis, empirical modeling and presenting results. Technical components are also highly focused on application and implementation and while prior training in econometrics is useful, it is not be a prerequisite. The course is tailored so that some of the specific topics covered are based on the needs and interests of the students.

Feeding Nine Billion

Feeding a growing and wealthier population is a huge task, and one with implications for many aspects of society and the environment. There are many tough choices to be made- on fertilizers, groundwater pumping, pesticide use, organics, genetic modification, etc. Unfortunately, many people form strong opinions about these issues before understanding some of the basics of how food is grown, such as how most farmers currently manage their fields, and their reasons for doing so. The goal of this class is to present an overview of global agriculture, and the tradeoffs involved with different practices. Students will develop two key knowledge bases: basic principles of crop ecology and agronomy, and familiarity with the scale of the global food system. The last few weeks of the course will be devoted to building on this knowledge base to evaluate different future directions for agriculture.

Food and Security

The course provides a broad overview of key policy issues concerning agricultural development and food security, and assesses how global governance is addressing the problem of food security. At the same time the course provides an overview of the field of international security, and examines how governments and international institutions are beginning to include food in discussions of security.

Fundamentals of Modeling

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.

Human Society and Environmental Change

Introduction to the interdisciplinary concepts of human dimensions of global change. Focus areas include economics, policy, culture, and history.

World Food Economy

The economics of food production, consumption, and trade. The micro- and macro- determinants of food supply and demand, including the interrelationship among food, income, population, and public-sector decision making. Emphasis on the role of agriculture in poverty alleviation, economic development, and environmental outcomes.

Previous Courses

Not all classes are offered every quarter or every year. This is a list of previously taught courses. Please consult Stanford's course schedule for current offerings.

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

Find out what our recent FSE postdoctoral scholars, and Stanford PhD graduates who worked closely with us on food security research are up to now.

Frances Moore

Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California Davis
PhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2015

Meha Jain

Assistant Professor, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan
Stanford University, NSF-SEES Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Earth System Science, Lobell Lab 2014-2016

Kaiyu Guan

Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Postdoctoral Scholar, Lobell Lab 2013-2015

Dane Klinger

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
PhD, Environment and Resource (EIPER), 2014

Rachael Garrett

Assistant Professor, Boston University
PhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2013

Joanne Gaskell

Agricultural Economist at The World Bank
PhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2012

Kristen Honey

Senior Policy Analyst at the White House, Office of Management and Budget
PhD, Environment and Resources (EIPER), 2012

Jennifer burney

Assistant Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego
Postdoctoral Scholar, 2010

Justin McGrath

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois
Postdoctoral Scholar, 2011