BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science - Global Agriculture and Food Security
This programme crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries to prepare graduates to address the exciting challenge of achieving sustainable food security in the 21st century.
On course, students simultaneously engage with the detailed scientific methods required to understand the physical dimensions of sustainable food systems and the socio-economic theories required to achieve productive policy change.
Programme Introduction by Dr Alfy Gathorne-Hardy:
(see bottom of page for transcript)
- Qualification: BSc (Hons) Agricultural Science - Global Agriculture and Food Security
- UCAS code: D404
- Institution Code: E56
- Study Mode: Four years full-time
- Course Location: Easter Bush Campus, Edinburgh, EH25 9RG
- Start Date: September
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My name is Alfy Gathorne-Hardy and I am the Director of the Global Agriculture and Food Security programme at the University of Edinburgh.
Food is a lens to every aspect of our lives. I came to the food system for my interest in Natural History, I was always interested on how the plants survive in this world of herbivores, but my colleagues have come from a whole range of different perspectives.
So some are interested in malnutrition, others interested in social justice, some interested in cattle – but what this programme aims to do is to bring all these different individuals together to ensure that the students can learn from all of us, and recognises that once we’ve got students with all these diverse understandings and opinions and perspectives together then we can find a way to ensure we have a world where we have safe, reliable and just food for everybody, in every part of the world, every day of their lives.
So what did you eat today? I had some coffee, I had some tea, and I had some bread with peanut butter and some honey. These products have come from all over the world and what this programme tries to do is to recognise that while our food comes from all over the world it also interacts with the world in an enormous different range of ways.
So that is why we’ve got to ensure that material that comes from countries with poor regulation, how do we ensure that comes not from people who are suffering bad working conditions? For material that comes from any part of the world, how do we ensure that is not generating an unfair burden on the environment?
And also, how do we ensure that food is safe for us to eat? So, this programme is unique in that we recognise that we’ve got to teach people this enormous range of topics without losing focus on our overarching game, which is to look at sustainable food generation.
And the other thing that we do in this programme is we go beyond just teaching. So, I hope you love to learn, I love to learn it’s why I am in this job, but the other thing is we need to learn how to ask good questions.
So, especially in the first couple of years we will be really giving you core knowledge on biology, economics, etc. But, building up over the programme, we are going to really try and focus on generating students’ minds so they can ask the right questions. So whether you become a policymaker and you need to consider what are the trade-offs of an individual policy, or whether you want to become a chicken farmer and you are wondering what to invest in, we need you to be able to ask the right questions rather than simply have the right information inside you.
So if someone says to you “what is the food industry” then it is very easy to think: “okay, who are the big players in this game?”, so you might think of McDonalds of you might think Unilever but we need to recognise that the food industry involves an enormous number of different players, and these include those big players but they also include the individual person selling fertilisers, the individual farmer whether they are in India or Indiana.
We also recognise that the food industry involves people who are there in the packaging and the transport, so what we are keen to ensure is that our students recognise that the food industry is an enormous set of different players, but also that they have a lot of detailed and close interaction with those players as they go ahead.
So, this can occur from individuals from industry coming in and giving a talk and engaging with students over an afternoon, to placements and students going out maybe a week over the summer, maybe for three weeks over Easter throughout the programme. What we don’t want to do is just generate students who think that there is just one type of food industry.
So that is why we are really excited to ensure that students meet different representatives from different parts of the food system over their four years of study.