Summer 2020 - SA 326 D100

Food, Ecology and Social Thought (S) (4)

Class Number: 4400

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    Ataman Avdan
    Office Hours: Mo 12:00-13:00, or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Modernization narratives have placed food and agriculture on the margins of social thought. The current ecological crisis requires us to take a new look at the global agrifood system and its social, political and ecological relations. This course develops analytical perspectives on contemporary issues concerning food, ecology and agrarian change.


Producing, consuming, and sharing food is a central part of human cultures, and eating is the most intimate human relationship with the rest of the natural world. Yet, modernization narratives have placed food and agriculture on the margins of social thought. As “modern” individuals, we rarely think about how our food ends up in our plates. This course explores the contemporary human-nature relationships that are formed around food, how food connects us with communities, geographies, institutions, nonhuman animals, and political-economic processes.

In the first half of the course, we will discuss the production, consumption, and the culture of food from eco-Marxist, ecofeminist, and indigenous perspectives. We will engage with the discussions around the political economy of modern agriculture and agro-food networks, alienation and de-alienation of urbanites from their food, locavorism, veganism, indigenous food sovereignty, food regimes, the global food system, and the workers of the global food chain. In the second half, we will focus on the food-related issues that we face in our “urban planet.” We will explore the urban food systems, the varieties of urban agriculture, “food gentrification,” and conclude with a discussion on local, sustainable, and alternative food movements.


At the end of this course, you should be able to 1) understand some of the major theories and concepts that are used to investigate food and agricultural issues in different contexts; 2) analyze relationships between food, human society, and the environment; 3) critically evaluate the changing relations between urban, rural and natural ecosystems; and 4) have detailed knowledge on a number of case studies.


  • Participation (discussions and online activities) 15%
  • Annotations (5 x 2%) 10%
  • Article presentation and discussion facilitation 10%
  • Food autoethnography 15%
  • Exam 1 25%
  • Exam 2 25%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.



Universal Access Remote learning for this semester requires a computer or tablet, camera, and internet access. Most laptops and desktops are running OSX and Windows. Tablets may be Android, iOS or Windows based. Headsets are advised but not necessary. Note that students have access to free Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud found here.


All required readings will be available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or online.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion