NIFK18000U  Practising Interdisciplinarity

Volume 2018/2019
Education

MSc Programme in Agricultural Development

Content

Human development and the environment are connected in innumerable ways. The purpose of this course is to (i) give students a well-grounded understanding of the key theoretical, conceptual and practical debates and issues within the agriculture/environment-development field, and (ii) allow them to practice interdisciplinarity through active participation in discussions and group work on important development questions.

 

During the first part of the course, we introduce students to the field of development. We offer an overview of development’s theoretical underpinnings, historical linkages, its inherently contested and ideological nature and how it pans out in contemporary practice. The intention is to establish a working knowledge of how development has been shaped, where it is going, and why it remains complex and contradictory.

The analysis of concrete development issues and questions suffer from disciplinary boundaries. Many of the most pressing questions in the agriculture/environment-development field are inherently interdisciplinary and should be addressed by combining the knowledge generated by several disciplines of the natural and social sciences. During the second part of the course, we use the knowledge on development acquired earlier in the course to explore important development questions, such as: (i) Are famines unavoidable? (ii) Is agribusiness good for farmers? (iii) Why should we conserve nature, and who benefits? (iv) How will climate change affect food production? The sessions of this part of the course will be taught and facilitated by teachers from different disciplines of the natural and social sciences (agronomists, plant scientists, botanists, geographers, economists, political scientists and anthropologists); teachers will answer the questions based on knowledge generated in their own discipline, and students and teachers will combine the knowledge from the different disciplines and experience how it allows for a deeper understanding of issues and possible solutions. One session will be devoted to epistemological reflections for each of the themes.

 

This interdisciplinary course is mandatory and fundamental for the MSc Programme in Agricultural Development and touches upon topics which are relevant to both specializations (Agriculture and Ecology, and Livelihoods and Governance). It places particular focus on countries in the Global South. 

Learning Outcome

After completing the course the students should be able to:


Knowledge:

 

  • Gain an overview of the key modern theories of agriculture, environment and development;
  • Understand the relationship between theory and practice in a ‘development’ context;
  • Be acquainted with current theoretical debates on agriculture/​environment-development issues;
  • Explore the intersections of economic growth, social development and environmental conservation;

 

Skills:

  • Critique and comment on scholarship on development and its contemporary practices;
  • Evaluate and differentiate approaches to agriculture/​environment-development questions from a variety of perspectives;
  • Analyze the value and validity of data in the academic and policy literature;
  • Explore and challenge own disciplinary boundaries by cooperating with fellow students on solving problems using different methodological approaches to the agriculture/​environment-development field.

 

Competences:

 

Towards the end of the course, students should be able to critically reflect on and discuss approaches to key development questions in the agriculture/​environment-development field. Students should be able to reflect on the benefits and challenges related to practicing interdisciplinarity.

The course curriculum consists of state-of-the-art book chapters, journal articles and reports within the areas of the course that will be made available during the course.

The course makes limited use of traditional lectures. The key teaching and learning activities are group discussions and exercises, student presentations, and written assignments. The learning activities draw on scientific articles and book chapters, but also on other media, such as grey litterature and film documentaries.

The indicated readings for each week must be read prior to class in order to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Students who are unable to meet this requirement should not enroll in the course.
Written
Oral
Individual
Collective
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Credit
15 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio
The assessment has two components: (i) Exam 1 (needs to be submitted by the end of Block 1) is an essay synopsis and reference list; (ii) Exam 2 is a 2000 words essay which needs to be submitted by the end of the course. Students will start working on Exam 1 from the beginning of the course and there will be weekly opportunities for asking questions and getting feedback. Exams 1 and 2 count for 30% and 70% of the final grade, respectively. The final grade is to be set as a weighted average of the results from the part-assessments.
Aid
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Re-exam

Re-examination will be a 3000 words essay. Students will be given 24 hours to write the essay.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 200
  • Lectures
  • 30
  • Class Instruction
  • 54
  • Practical exercises
  • 60
  • Exam
  • 60
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Total
  • 412