Providing for the future by exploring the past, present of food and farming

June 28, 2018 9:30 a.m.

By 2050, the projected 9 billion people on the planet will all need one thing — food. And providing that food will be one of the greatest generational challenges facing today’s Princeton University students.

The new Princeton course “Agriculture, Human Diets and the Environment,” which debuted in spring 2018, sought to prepare students for a future where society will have to secure more nourishment on a planet running increasingly short on the land and resources needed to provide it. The class is an environmental studies course cross-listed with ecology and evolutionary biology.

By delving into the history of how humans have fed themselves — from hunter-gatherers to modern industrial agriculture — the course pushed students to explore the various environmental, social and nutritional repercussions of how society feeds itself now and in the future, said instructor Daniel Rubenstein, the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and director of the Program in Environmental Studies based in the Princeton Environmental Institute.

“Princeton students because of their passion, their intelligence, their ability to be articulate and explain their reasoning can be champions of a new future,” Rubenstein said. “My goal in this course is to provide scientific evidence that will allow students to make wise decisions for the benefit of biodiversity, their health and the livelihoods of all peoples on the planet.
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