AGR*2050 Agroecology

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2023 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.

This course considers the interactions of all important biophysical, technical and socioeconomic components of farming systems and examines these systems as the fundamental units of study. Mineral cycles, energy transformations, biological processes and socioeconomic relationships are analyzed as a whole in an interdisciplinary fashion.

Fundamental ecological principles are applied to manage agricultural ecosystems. Crop selection and management are viewed as influencing interactions among species and the environment. Adaptation and distribution of temperate zone crops are related to both environmental constraints and human intervention.

Pre-Requisites: (AGR*1110 or AGR*2150), (BIOL*1050 or BIOL*1070)

Restrictions: CROP*2110


Teaching Assistant:

Puja Lamichhane, MSc

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:
  1. Synthesize current knowledge, published in peer reviewed journals, and draw out the implications for agronomic, social, environmental and economic themes in an essay format (Literacy)
  2. Have an understanding of the basic agroecological concepts, resource, and nutrient interactions that shape an agroecosystem (Global Understanding)
  3. Have the depth and breadth of understanding of the global variables that influence agroecosystem health and agricultural production (Global Understanding)
  4. Learn independently through observation and discussion (Independence of Thought)

Lecture Content:

  • The course lecture content and reading assignments are designed to ensure that students:
  • Develop a systems thinking approach in order to understand how environment and agricultural production practices influence an agroecosystem.
  • Will be able to critically assess management practices and their potential impact on agroecosystems, biological processes, and sustainability.

Course Content

1.  Intro to Agroecology

  • Definitions and comparisons between industrial agriculture and alternatives
  • Ecosystem structure, function, and nutrient cycling

        Learning objective: Explain natural and anthropogenic factors that influence soil types, mineral nutrient availability, and plant community characteristics.

2.  Plants & Their Environment

  • Photosynthesis, weather & climate, soil

        Learning objectives: Understand geographic aspects of agronomy

3.  System-Level Interactions

  • Structures and dynamics of plant populations and communities; competition; disturbance; stress; succession.

        Learning objectives: 

  1. Explain how population and community dynamics of plants are influenced by disturbance, stress, and species interactions.
  2. Explain how population and community dynamics are influenced by disturbance, stress and interactions

4.   The Transition to Sustainability

  • Ecologically based management, sustainability indicators, society & food systems.

        Learning objective: Explain why increasing food production doesn't comprehensively address human population growth


  • Systems Thinking
  • Industrial Ag & Alternative
  • Agroecosystem Structure & Function
  • Agroecosystem Cycles & Disturbances
  • The Plant
  • Light
  • Temperature
  • Wind & Rain
  • Soil
  • Carbon Markets
  • Biotic Factors/Environmental Complex
  • Heterotrophic Organisms
  • Population Ecology & Species Interactions
  • Diversity, Disturbance, Succession
  • Animals in Agroecosystems
  • Livestock Nutrition
  • Linking Livestock manure nutrients with crops
  • Landscape Diversity
  • Aquaculture
  • Converting to Ecologically Based Management
  • Society, Community & Culture
  • Food System Change


Labs & Seminars:


Course Assignments and Tests:


Name Scheme A (%)
Quizzes 40%
Final Exam 20%
Midterm Exam 30%
Class Participation 10%
TOTAL 100%

Quizzes (40%)
Date: Approximately every 2 weeks
Learning Outcome: 1, 4

Quiz assignments typically include multiple choice, short answer (1-3 sentences), and short essay (6-12 paragraphs) questions. Some assignments may involve optional group work. These will appear as quizzes in Courselink or paper I distribute during class. Quiz due dates may be extended if any conflicts arise with guest speakers or other assignments. Any essay-style quiz will include a template and will be due no sooner than 1 week after assigned. Quiz 1 - week 3 Quiz 2 - week 5 Quiz 3 - week 7 Quiz 4 - week 9 Quiz 5 - week 11 Quiz 6 - week 13

Final Exam (20%)
Due: TBD, Online
Learning Outcome: 1, 2, 3
Students will answer multiple choice, matching, short answer, and short essay questions. The date and time are TBD during the exam period.

Midterm (30%)
Date: Thu, Mar 2, In person
Midterm is scheduled during the regular class meeting time.

Class Participation (10%)
Date: any day we have class
This includes pop quizzes, participation in breakout group discussions, and short presentations (individual or group) to the class that summarize outcomes of group discussions or other class activities.


Final examination:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

Required Resources

Agroecology:The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems, Third Edition, By Stephen R. Gliessman (Textbook)

Available via University of Guelph library thru ProQuest Ebook Central from the link above.

U of G has access the 3 electronic copies at a time, where you can download a pdf for each chapter. If you can't access it then 3 other students are accessing and you need to wait for them to finish; just try again in an hour or two.

Chapters 1,2,and 4 are available on course reserve. Please download other chapters (1 at a time). Note that access is limited to 3 students at a time so you might need to try a few different times to get access. You also might not be able to download all chapters in one session. Please do not "check out" the entire Ebook since it will block other students from accessing Ebook content.

ISBN  9781439895610

Book Website: Agroecology -The-Ecology-of-Sustainable-Food­ Systems-Third-Edition/Gliessman/p/book/9781439895610

You can also purchase or rent an electronic copy at:  Agroecology-The-Ecology-of-Sustainable-Food-Systems- Third­ Edition/Gliessman/p/book/978143989561 or:  Agroecology-stephen-r-gliessman­ v9781498728461

Course Technologies and Technical Support
System and Software Requirements

This course will mainly employ the following technologies;

  • CourseLink
  • Zoom
  • Teams (via Office 365)

To help ensure you have the best learning experience possible, please review the list of system and software requirements.

CourseLink System Requirements
You are responsible for ensuring that your computer system meets the necessary system requirements. Use the browser check tool to ensure your browser settings are compatible and up to date. (Results will be displayed in a new browser window).

This course is being offered using CourseLink (powered by D2L's Brightspace), the University of Guelph's online learning management system (LMS). By using this service, you agree to comply with the University of Guelph's Access and Privacy Guidelines. Please visit the D2L website to review the Brightspace privacy statement and Brightspace Learning Environment web accessibility standards.

Technical Support
If you need any assistance with the software tools or the CourseLink website, contact CourseLink Support.
Email: Page 5 of 20
Tel: 519-824-4120 ext. 56939 Toll-Free (CAN/USA): 1-866-275-1478
Support Hours (Eastern Time):
Monday thru Friday: 8:30 am–8:30 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am–4:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm–6:00 pm

Teams (via Office 365)

Office 365 Teams is a collaboration service that provides shared conversation spaces to help teams coordinate and communicate information. It is recommended that you use the desktop version of Teams.

This course will also use Teams for one-on-one meetings with your Instructor.

As a student you are responsible for learning how to use Teams and its features.

For Teams Support visit the CCS website for more information.

Technical Skills

As part of your learning experience, you are expected to use a variety of technologies for assignments, lectures, teamwork, and meetings. In order to be successful in this course you will need to have the following technical skills:

  • Manage files and folders on your computer (e.g., save, name, copy. backup, rename, delete, and check properties);
  • Install software, security. and virus protection;
  • Use office applications (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or similar) to create documents;
  • Be comfortable uploading and downloading saved files;
  • Communicate using email (e.g., create, receive, reply. print, send, download, and open attachments);
  • Navigate the CourseLink learning environment and use the essential tools, such as Dropbox, Quizzes, Discussions, and Grades (the instructions for this are given in your course);
  • Access, navigate, and search the Internet using a web browser (e.g., Firefox, Internet Explorer); and
  • Perform online research using various search engines (e.g., Google) and library databases.

Contact your course instructor if you need support with any of the above.


Course Policies:

Grading Policies:

All grading is in accordance with the Undergraduate Grading Procedures. In-semester assignments are due on the date specified in this course outline. A medical note or permission of the instructor is required to delay submission of assignments or to allow for change in test date. Late assignments will be penalized 5% per day from date specified within this course outline until the date of submission.

Course Policy on Group Work:

Not applicable.

Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor.  When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.

Other Course Information:


Remote learning course websites may include both synchronous and asynchronous interactions and have the same protections, expectations, guidelines, and regulations used in face-to-face settings. Here you will find a list of guidelines and expectations for the remote learning environment. 

To get the most out of your remote delivery class, consider the following: 

  1. Be respectful of your instructors, TAs and peers in the online synchronous and asynchronous class environment.
  2. Avoid the use of offensive language and inappropriate jokes to keep the environment positive for all.
  3. Refrain from making inflammatory, disrespectful, or discriminatory comments about your instructors, TA or peers within the remote learning environment, external sites, or social media.
  4. Take advantage of the mute button in synchronous classes and only unmute yourself when necessary.
  5. During synchronous lectures, keep discussions in the chat and related to the course material.
  6. Let your professor know if they didn't explain something fully by leaving a comment about it in the chat. If you are confused, chances are so are other students in the class. 
  7. Indicate if the professor is going too fast or too slow by modifying your status or using the reaction tools often available in the tools your instructors use.
  8. Be mindful of both yours and other's personal information; if you are recording materials presented synchronously, ensure all participants are aware.
  9. Posts to the discussion board should be on-topic and not promoting profit-driven products and services.
  10. Proofread your work before submitting it; this includes any discussion board posts and assignments to Dropbox.
  11. Use citations or references in your work to indicate when you are referencing another person's work.
  12. Submit work that is your own and do not copy from fellow students or purchase written papers online.
  13. Be honest about the completion of quizzes and assessments. If you run into technical difficulties on a quiz or when submitting an assignment, reach out to Courselink Support for assistance.
  14. If you disagree with a grade you received, find time to have a conversation with your instructor or TA about it. Do not incite other students to argue with the instructor over assessments or grades related expectations.
  15. Use clear and concise language.
  16. Course materials provided within CourseLink should not be posted elsewhere without the permission of the instructor.
  17. Do not post or sell course materials and notes to course notes websites.
  18. Do not share your username and password with another student.

 Behaviours that are not tolerated, but not limited to, include:

  1. Threatening or harassing a student or instructor online.
  2. Having someone else complete your quiz or other assessments, or you complete a quiz or other assessment for (or with) another student.
  3. Attempting to compromise the security or functionality of the Courselink learning environment.

It is expected that you behave honourably, appropriately, and with academic integrity (regardless of the course being held remotely).

University Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the academic calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community, faculty, staff, and students  to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.

University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Student Accessibility Services (SAS), formerly Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD), as soon as possible.

For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email or visit the Student Accessibility Services website:

Course Evaluation Information

Your ratings and comments are important.  Course evaluation data are used to assess and enhance the quality of teaching and student learning at the University of Guelph.  Student course ratings and comments are used as an important component in the Faculty Tenure & Promotion process, and as valuable feedback to help instructors improve their teaching effectiveness and to improve the delivery of the course.

Your responses will not affect your grade.  Course evaluation data are distributed to individual instructors after final grades have been submitted to the Registrar, following the completion of each academic semester.

Please be honest, respectful, constructive and thorough.  Instructors and review committees place great value on student course ratings and read all comments provided in course evaluations. It is helpful to provide comments on the strengths of the course, in addition to the areas for improvement.  Please refrain from personal comments unless they relate to teaching and learning.

Click here for the University of Guelph Course Evaluation System