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AGST 3000 Agriculture, Society and the Natural World. …FAll 2006 INSTRUCTOR : Mark E. Bender PhD. Class meets: Tuesday/Thursday 9:40-11:07… Bizzini Classroom Building C-113 Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 8:00 – 9:30 AM, Tuesday 3:00 to 4:00 and by appointment

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agst 3000 agriculture society and the natural world

AGST 3000Agriculture, Society and the Natural World

…FAll 2006

INSTRUCTOR: Mark E. Bender PhD.

Class meets: Tuesday/Thursday 9:40-11:07…
    • Bizzini Classroom Building C-113
  • Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 8:00 – 9:30 AM, Tuesday 3:00 to 4:00 and by appointment
  • Office: Classroom Building 108 A
  • Telephone: Office: 667-3961, Department: 664-6648
  • Email:
  • Website:
TEXT: None

Assigned readings on current Agricultural Issues from a variety of sources…

  • Newspaper Articles
  • Web Sites
  • Magazines
  • Handouts
  • Other sources yet to be determined
grading policy based on points
GRADING POLICY: Based on points…

Attendance* (10 pts/class ) 260 pts 22%

Journal (weekly analyses…11 @ 10 pts) 110 pts 9%

Current Ag Issue Articles (4 @ 20 pts) 80 pts 7%

Other Assignments (approximate) 100 pts 8%

Agricultural Commodity Paper/SB (MT) 150 pts 12.5%

Qualitative Interview 100 pts 8%

Agricultural Issue Paper and Story Board 150 pts 12.5%

Agricultural Issue Debate (Final and participation)* 100 pts 8%

Final Exam 150 pts 12.5%

(may be optional based on class participation)

TOTAL = 1200 + or - 100%

  • The above point and percentage distribution is an approximation and is subject to change.
  • *Students failing to attend the Final Debates or take the Final Exam will receive failing grades for the semester.
  • There will be 1 or 2 outside lectures required (Ag Studies Speaker Series, Future of Food (Sept. 21, 7:00 PM, MJC Forum 110) , etc.

The thresholds will be:

  • A = 90-100;
  • B+ = 88-89; B = 80-87;
  • C+ = 78-79; C = 70-77;
  • D+ = 68-69; D = 60-67;D- = 55-59;
  • F = <55.
  • To take this course CR/NC, you must submit the required form which coincides with last day to withdraw from a class
what a grade means
What a grade means…

For your information, the overall grade in the course will be based on assignments which are assigned numerical points based on the following general criteria:

A=Performance of participant shows sustained excellence in meeting all course requirements and exhibiting intellectual initiative

B=Performance of participant shows consistent and effective achievement in meeting course requirements

C=Performance of participant has been barely adequate, meeting only the minimum course requirements

instructor s comments
  • Attendance will be taken at each class session. Good attendance usually results in an improved grade.
  • Extra credit will be awarded for participation in designated extra-curricular activities and for in class participation
  • Homework is due at the beginning of class. Late assignments will be subject to a penalty and assignments will not be accepted if more than one week late.
  • Special circumstances may adjust this policy upon professor discretion.
course description

The sociology of agriculture presented through an examination of relationships between societies and their environments, economies and agriculture. Emphasis on the analysis of agriculture’s use of technology and the corresponding impact on the environment, on the economy and on society.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the historical and geographical relationship between agriculture, the environment and a given society.
  • Discuss the development of production, processing and distribution methods of various agricultural products.
  • List and describe the major types, operational and functional aspects of producing food.
  • Identify the historical relationship between immigration, labor, agriculture, and politics in the United States with special emphasis in California.
  • Outline the development of agriculture and its effect on the environment.
objectives continued
OBJECTIVES continued…
  • Describe the changing nature of rural society.
  • Discuss the roles and contributions that California’s ethnic and cultural populations have made to agriculture.
  • Identify the nature of current ethical issues in agriculture.
  • Interpret the future trends in agriculture.
  • Define, collect, analyze and evaluate data pertaining to a current agricultural-environmental-social issue.
major assignment due dates
  • Agricultural Commodity Story Boards – Week 4, September 28
  • Agricultural Commodity Paper - Week 6, October 12 (Triterm)
  • Topical Journal Check – Week 7, October 17
  • Qualitative Interview Ag Issue Week 8, October 23-27 (no class)
  • Qualitative Interview Ag Issue Report Week10, November 9 (Triterm)
  • Ag Studies Speaker Series… TBA, November 2 or 9 or 16
  • Agricultural Issue Paper – Week 13, November 30
  • Agricultural Issue Storyboard – Week 14, December 5
  • Agricultural Issue Debates - Week 14, December 5, 7, 19 (Final)
  • Topical Journal Due – Week 14, December 5
  • Final Exam – Tuesday, December 19, 8:30 – 10:30

This is an approximation as to how the course will progress. It is subject to change according to current events and other opportunities for enrichment.

Wk Topics

1 Introduction*1Qualitative Interview

2 History of Agricultural Development

3 The Role of California Agriculture

Agriculture Statistical Review for California

4 U.S. Agriculture, World Population and Food

5 Ethical Issues in Animal Agriculture

6 Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

7 Air Pollution

8 Conduct Ag Issue Interview and Teamwork

9 Water Issues in California, Irrigation

10 Urbanization of Rural Areas, Agricultural Land Preservation

11 Pesticides / Integrated Pest Management

12 Sustainable Agriculture

13 Endangered Species Act & E.P.A.

If time Agricultural Labor& Immigration Issues

If time Family Farm and Rural Societies and Rural Poverty

14 Agricultural Issue Debates

15 Agricultural Issue Debates Final Exam

extra credit
Extra Credit
  • There will be opportunity for extra credit for attending seminars, lectures, conferences, other work on current agricultural topics.
  • Opportunities will be announced as they are scheduled.
  • Agricultural Studies Speaker Series is required (one per semester).
my goals
My Goals…
  • Is that each of you acquires an appreciation for Agriculture
  • Develop additional skills in critical thinking, taking nothing at face value
  • Develop additional written and oral communication skills
  • Develop an ability to work with others in a team environment