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Food and Water Security

University of British Columbia

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Short Course Description

Food security is one of the most pressing dilemmas of our time. Around the globe, approximately 2 billion people experience some form of food deprivation each day. One in ten people suffers from some form of food insecurity in Canada. This has led scholars to question why food insecurity exists in an ostensibly food secure country. The literature on food security and climate change has also grown exponentially over the past several decades in large part as a response to world events such as the Green Revolution and other forms of industrial agricultural development since the 1970s. Despite the advances in research and technology, we still possess inadequate knowledge of the dynamics causing the onset of food insecurity, and significant disagreement persists among scholars concerning the best way to ameliorate food insecurity.

Drawing upon the food security literature and current events in the media, this survey course will encourage learners to build a new understanding of food security, water shortages in agricultural production, and climate change challenges in agriculture. We will introduce policy tools and case studies illustrating the effects that climate change has on agriculture which will be useful and applicable to individual cross-disciplinary learning.

This course examines the inter-dynamics of food security, water, and climate change through a social sciences perspective. It is designed for professionals and specialists from a variety of sectors, along with academics. Individuals seeking to understand the effects of climate change on our food supply and its social ramifications would especially benefit from taking this course, including (but not limited to):

Agriculturalists (industrial producers’ associations, small-scale farmers, market gardeners, fisheries, and livestock professionals), agrologists, agricultural economists, environmentalists, and related environmental fields, educators and researchers, rural development managers, policymakers, concerned citizens, and community leaders.

Course Modules

Food Security and Food Insecurity

In the first module, we define the concept of food and what it means to individuals. We then explore food security and food insecurity meanings and definitions and the ramifications of living with food deprivation not only for western populations but also Indigenous communities. We also investigate the concept of food sovereignty as well as Indigenous food sovereignty.

Water and Food Security

In the second module, we examine the hydrological cycle and water security as defined by the United Nations. We also analyze various aspects of the importance of water to food production and climate change. We specifically look at programs in the Okanagan which address drought and flooding while reading about examples of successful management of water systems for food and agriculture for improving adaptation and building resilience to climate change.

Climate Change and Food Security in the Future

In the third module, we delve into climate change (defined as any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time). Using the Okanagan as a lens, we investigate the impacts of drought, flooding, pests, and forest fires on agriculture. We look at how producers are adapting to climatic variations that affect our food supply and the future impacts that climate change is likely to have on global food production.

What Does it all Mean and What Can We Do?

In the fourth module, the course culminates by asking ourselves “How do we go forward in addressing food insecurity, water security, climate change, adapting to future climate change and what we can do as individuals, communities, nations and a community of nations?”.

Course Outline

No course outline given.
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Course Design Statements

  • ✓ Online
  • ✓ Included indigenous perspectives


Biography picture for Dr. Joanne Taylor

Dr. Joanne Taylor

Dr. Joanne Taylor is an environmental anthropologist and political ecologist and received her PhD from the University of British Columbia Okanagan in the Department of Community, Culture, and Global Studies. Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Dr. Taylor's doctoral research investigated food security and food sovereignty in the traditional lands of the Ktunaxa First Nation and the Creston Valley of British Columbia during catastrophic climate change and the renegotiation of the bilateral Columbia River Treaty. Joanne is currently a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia Okanagan in the Department of Economics, Political Science, and Philosophy. Her research focuses on agricultural adaptation to climate change in the Cariboo and Okanagan Regions of British Columbia.  This research resides at the intersections of food, climate change, and water in the inter-disciplinary fields of environmental anthropology and food security, with a focus on the complex and myriad ways food security and food sovereignty are defined globally, nationally, regionally, and locally. Joanne lives in Kelowna, BC with her family and enjoys skiing, hiking, yoga, gardening, cooking, and traveling within B.C.

Course Artefacts