ST Example: Food For Thought

Sustainability Thinking in Humanities – A Worked Example:

HUS1FFT 2014 – Food For Thought

The following is a worked example of reviewing and planning for inclusion of the Sustainability Thinking Essentials subject using the Review and Plan Tool (RPT – See Toolkit).

There is a detailed, step by step description of how the subject has been reviewed for the Essential below, under ‘Details of How Sustainability Thinking Has Been Included’.

The full Review and Plan sheets for Food for Thought, as of November 2014 can be viewed and downloaded here (note: click on the ‘back arrow’ to return to this page):

S.T. Essential Food For Thought – Review of Student Activities

S.T. Essential Food For Thought – Review of ILOs

S.T. Essential Food For Thought – Review of Assessment Tasks

Note that this subject substantially covers the Sustainability Thinking Essential, but the Review and Plan tool has revealed that some additional information needs to be provided, or adjustments made to the subject Assessment Tasks, for the subject to be confirmed as an Essentials subject.

Details of How Sustainability Thinking Has Been Included

HUS1FFT Food For Thought is one of the first year limited choice subjects, aimed at bringing breath and interdisciplinary experience to students in the Bachelor of Arts and associated undergraduate degrees.

What is the Subject About?

In Food for Thought students explore key global issues through deceptively familiar commodities such as chocolate, tea, coffee, alcohol, and meat. Food and drink are essential to human existence; they are also revealing of the nature of human society and culture. Students explore topics such as production and labour (agricultural and industrial), retail, marketing, and consumption. They also engage actively with key historical and contemporary problems such as colonialism, fair trade, famine, and sustainability. One aspect of this exploration is looking at the social, environmental and economic change and challenges in the contemporary world in relation to sustainability in food. Sustainability related topics covered include Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Consumption and Sustainable Food Production in a Globalized World.

But does it contain the Sustainability Thinking Essential?

It is obvious from this description that Food for Thought aims to cover sustainability from various food-related perspectives. But do these meet the requirements of the Sustainability Thinking Essential? Are they sufficiently well expressed in the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) for the subject? Are they adequately covered in the Student Assessment Tasks? And are they as fully explored in the Student Learning Activities as the description would suggest?

– These three areas, along with a clear presence of Sustainability Thinking in the Subject Description, and clear alignment between ILOs, SLAs and Assessment Tasks, are the requirements that need to be met for the subject to be designated as containing the Sustainability Thinking Eessential.

How can the Essentials Review and Plan Tool (RPT) Help?

The Review and Plan Tool of the Essentials (see Toolbox) has been applied to the Food for Thought subject in 2014, with the outcomes described below.

This Example Starts with the Student Learning Activities 

(note: you can start with any of the RPTs – or with the Essentials Summary Tool or EST – see the Guidelines for Using the RPTs and EST in the Essentials Toolkit)

Let’s start with the Student Learning Activities (SLAs) for Food For Thought – taken from the Subject Learning Guide and more detailed information from the LMS (Learning Management System = Moodle).

Where is Sustainability Thinking in the SLAs?

From the Subject Learning Guide and information on the LMS, the following Lecture based information is available:

Week 8: Sustainable Agriculture, including recorded panel discussion on:

* Definitions of sustainability:

– How would you define sustainability?

– Do we all mean the same thing when we discuss sustainability?

– How has agricultural practice developed over time and how have issues of sustainability in agriculture varied over time and place?

– How have people responded to food crises in the past?

– What are the key challenges for sustainable agriculture that we face in Australia currently?

– Responsibility: Where does the ultimate responsibility for sustainable food production lie? – with the state, with the producer, with the retailer, with the consumer?

– How can these different agents influence sustainable agriculture?

Sustainability is also addressed explicitly in the Lecture material on Sustainable Consumption – this covers topics that include:

  • Sufficient food vs. Overproduction and food waste
  • Environmental impact
  • Health implications
  • Technology vs education, resources etc.
  • Moral questions: responsibility, exploitation
  • Economic questions: role of big business
  • Social impact: community well being, worker well being

… Stopping the (unsustainable) excesses of western food consumption

There is also a Tutorial on Sustainability in a Globalised World that includes the following task:

TASK TWO: Reading on GM crops – ‘Global Food Fight’

  • Who controls GM crops?
  • Why has there been such hysteria in Europe?
  • How might GM crops help farmers in the developing world? Should more be invested in agriculture in developing world (think back to other article and Fair Trade doco)
  • Why have developing countries failed to benefit so far?
  • Who has benefited so far?

Finally, sustainability is also covered in student activity TASK FOUR – a DEBATE on the following:

“The individual consumer has the power to create a sustainable food future.”

Groups of students prepare 4 points each with  someone to deliver.

Together these student activities cover each of the required elements of the Sustainability Thinking Essential:

Sustainability Thinking demands that all La Trobe University students reflect on

  1. the complex interactions between natural, economic, social, political and cultural systems;
  2. our obligations to future generations;
  3. how the choices we make will affect the public good and the well being of future generations.

The Example Next Looks at the ILOs (Intended Learning Outcomes):

 The current ILOs for the subject, as of November 2014, includes the following:

ILO 5: To engage effectively with social, environmental and economic change and challenges in the contemporary world in relation to sustainability in food.

Note that the ILO does cover the following element of the Sustainability Thinking Essential

Sustainability Thinking demands that all La Trobe University students reflect on:

  • the complex interactions between natural, economic, social, political and cultural systems;

The ILOs do not explicitly cover the second two elements of S.T. – although these might be covered in the learning & teaching:

  • our obligations to future generations;
  • how the choices we make will affect the public good and the well being of future generations.

So the action identified in the right hand column is to:

Re-write /add to existing ILO 5 or add an additional ILO that refers to obligations to future generations and the consequences of the choices we make for the future.

The Example finally looks at the Student Assessment Tasks:

The first Assessment Task that might include the S.T. Essential is:

Task 2 – Tutorial Journal: This is made up of a mixture of tasks: online quizzes, reflections, and an essay plan.

There is a quiz on Sustainability that forms part of the assessment.

It is not entirely clear whether this Assessment Task covers any of the S.T. elements but could possible address the first element:

Sustainability Thinking demands that all La Trobe University students reflect on:

  • the complex interactions between natural, economic, social, political and cultural systems;

There is a need to clarify what is in the Sustainability quiz any other parts of this assessment task that address Sustainability Thinking elements and ensure that these are clear in the instructions for the relevant parts of Assessment Task 2.

Note that overall this is 25% of the final student assessment or about 5% for the sustainability quiz

The next Assessment Task that might include the S.T. Essential is:

Task 3 – Research Essay

Essay titles are to be made available on LMS.

Examples of topics include:

  • You are what you eat
  • How does food reflect and create distinctions between people?

(You might consider class, ethnicity, gender and any other categories you can think of. You might choose to focus on one society or compare two societies)

Food Taboos

With reference to at least one specific food ‘taboo’ discuss the history of this taboo and what this can tell us about society and culture.

The review of this Assessment Task (column 2) is that “None of the ST elements are directly addressed by the essay assessment task as currently formulated. There is recognition that the essay topics do provide a basis for overt consideration of the ST elements.”

There is a need to “Decide whether (and how) to include one or more of the ST elements in the essay assessment task.” (Column 4) For example, the essay requirements could include the following addition (in italics):

“Choose one of the following essay questions. In writing your essay, include examples of how the complex interactions between natural, economic, social, political and cultural systems affect the ways that food is prepared and used in our society, and the opportunities and barriers that these interactions give rise to for living more sustainably.”

This is an important issue to address, as this Assessment Task constitutes 40% of the overall assessment, so if S.T. is going to be substantially in student assessment, it needs to be clearly recognizable in this Assessment Task.

The final assessment task that potentially includes S. T. is:

Task 4 – Exam on Sustainability

There is a need to include details of what is in this exam in the final review of the subject for S.T. The exam constitutes 25% of the overall assessment so this is an important element to pay attention to.

The review of the Exam section of the assessment task reveals that there is a need to “Look at content covered in the quiz and exam against the ST elements and adjust so that the ST elements are fully and explicitly covered.”

Underneath each of the individual Assessment Tasks there is a summary that reveals that:

“With appropriate integration of the Sustainability Thinking elements in the appropriate assessment tasks for the subject, there is a capacity to have ST covered in somewhere between 25% and 40% of the assessment – which is adequate for the subject to be deemed as a ST Essentials Subject in relation to Assessment. The work of adjusting and aligning the Assessment tasks to fully address the ST Essential elements still needs to be carried out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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