Contemporary Environmental Issues A

Subject ENST90022 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2 hours of lectures/seminars per week.
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne School of Land and Environment (MSLE) welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and School policy to take reasonable steps to make reasonable adjustments so as to enable the student’s participation in the School’s programs. MSLE contributes to the New Generation degrees and offers a broad range of programs across undergraduate and post-graduate levels many of which adopt a multi-disciplinary approach.

Students of the School’s courses must possess intellectual, ethical, and emotional capabilities required to participate in the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the School. Candidates must have abilities and skills in observation; motor in relevant areas; communication; in conceptual, integrative, and quantitative dimensions; and in behavioural and social dimensions.

Adjustments can be provided to minimise the impact of a disability, however students need to be able to participate in the program in an independent manner and with regard to their safety and the safety of others.

I. Observation: In some contexts, the student must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic and applied sciences. More broadly, observation requires reading text, diagrams, maps, drawings and numerical data. The candidate should be able to observe details at a number of scales and record useful observations in discipline dependant contexts.

II. Communication: A candidate should be able to communicate with fellow students, professional and academic staff, members of relevant professions and the public. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing.

III. Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function necessary for participation in the inherent discipline-related activities. The practical work, design work, field work, diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests, require varying motor movement abilities. Off campus investigations may include visits to construction sites, urban, rural and/or remote environments.

IV. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of professionals in land and environment industries, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

V. Behavioural and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from meeting the above academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit.


Dr Gyorgy Scrinis


Dr Gyorgy Scrinis (Lecturer/Coordinator)

Office for Environmental Programs
Ground Floor, Walter Boas Building (building 163)

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

The Politics of Food

In 2012 the special topic for this subject will be the Politics of Food. This subject examines the politics of the global food system, and will focus on the central problems, debates and conflicts in the production, distribution and consumption of food. The structures, cultures, institutions, policies, technologies and practices of agricultural production, food processing, food trade and distribution, retailing, and food consumption will be critically explored. Key theoretical frameworks for understanding the dominant paradigms and dynamics of the food system will be introduced. Alternative paradigms and practices of production, distribution and consumption will also be critically examined. Two key themes that will be explored throughout the course are global and local food security, and the environmental sustainability of food systems. The subject will primarily draw on theories and methodologies from the sociology and politics of food, the political economy and political ecology of food, and the public health nutrition literature.

The topics and themes to be explored include:

  • Food security and food sovereignty: the production, distribution, access to, and control of food; the 2008 Global Food Crisis; national and global food security; food scarcity and abundance; national food policies;
  • Forms and paradigms of agricultural production: chemical-industrial agriculture, organic-industrial agriculture; the Green Revolution; agroecological practices;
  • Food distribution, retailing and processing: global food trade; free trade and fair-trade schemes; food miles; the power of supermarkets; processed foods, fast-foods and food quality;
  • Diet, nutrition and health; global and local diets; the nutrition transition; the ideology of nutritionism; food marketing; functional foods;
  • The environmental impacts and challenges of food production and consumption: climate change, oil dependence, food waste; sustainable food production and consumption practices;
  • Animal production and consumption: intensive production and factory farms; animal welfare; industrial fishing; environmental impacts;
  • Technological paradigms and techological solutions for food security and sustainability: genetically-modified foods; precision farming; nanotechnology; agroecology;
  • Globalisation and corporatisation: corporate concentration; the vertical and global integration of the food system; the independence and autonomy of farmers;
  • Competition for land: food, feed, biofuels, and 'land-grabbing';
  • Alternative production, distribution and consumption paradigms: local and urban food production, farmers' markets, Slow Food, vegetarianism, the food sovereignty movement.
  • Gain advanced analytical skills related to contemporary environmental issues
  • Become familiar with current debates in contemporary environmental issues relating to this subject
  • Expand their knowledge of environmental theories
  • Research an individual topic in the specialised area of study of this subject

1 x 1,500 word written assignment, due in the middle of semester (35%), and 1 x 3,500 word written assignment, due at the end of semester (65%)

Prescribed Texts:

The subject coordinator will provide a list of required readings.

Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Independent research on topics relevant to the subject
  • Participate successfully in group discussions
  • Further develop their critical thinking through readings, class discussions, collaboration and assessment
  • Further develop analytical approaches and knowledge in contemporary environmental issues
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Master of International Relations
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Climate Change
Governance, Policy and Communication
Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Regions

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