AGR*2500 Field Course in International Agriculture

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2020 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.

The lecture series preceding the field component of this course will provide students with the theoretical background to understand the unique characteristics, challenges, and benefits of tropical agriculture, as well as information on many of the specific crops and animals that they will see.  This theoretical component will be complimented through experiential learning during the ten day field trip where students will travel by bus on a route through the Central Valley, the Caribbean Lowlands, the Central Cordillera and the Pacific west coast of Costa Rica.  This route will expose them to humid tropics, tropical savanna and high altitude tropical agroecological zones. Visits to both small and large farm operations, the  Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), and a biological research station will expose students to a very wide range of tropical (and some temperate) crops and livestock production systems, the natural environment of the tropics as well as environmental management issues.

Instructors:

Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:

0.5

Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Plant Agriculture

Campus:

Guelph

Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Tuesday 7:00PM-9:50PM, Room 059 McKinnon 

Field component in Costa Rica Friday February 14th Feb 2020 to Sunday 24th Feb 2020

Learning outcomes:

 
Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Synthesize current knowledge, published in peer reviewed literature on selected tropical agricultural systems and related development issues and draw out the implications for agronomic, social, environmental and economic themes (Literacy)
  2. Have an understanding of the biological, environmental, socio-economic and cultural forces that shape agricultural production systems in the tropics and the implications of these forces on global development (Global Understanding)
  3. Have a depth and breadth of understanding of the variables that shape tropical agricultural production (Depth and Breadth of Understanding, Global Understanding)
  4. Learn independently through observation and discussion in a different socio-cultural environment (Independence of Thought)
Course Objectives
  1. Familiarize participants with the nature and range of crops and agricultural production systems found in tropical regions
  2. Develop participants’ skills for evaluating tropical production systems from efficiency, environmental, social and economic viewpoints.
  3. Visit corporate and individual farms, university and government research stations in Costa Rica.
  4. Interact with local farmers and specialists on production and environmental issues

 

Lecture Content:

Specific Lectures will cover:

  • Course and field visit organization
  • The historical and biophysical context of agriculture and natural resource management in Costa Rica
  • Oil palm, cocoa and coffee cultivation.
  • Banana, pineapple, sugar cane cultivation.
  • Livestock, PES, vegetables and La Selva and the rainforest
  • Pre-departure briefing
Labs & Seminars:

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assessment Percentage Learning Outcome Assessed
Daily Journal 40% 1, 2, 3, 4
Participation 20% 2, 4
Daily Monitor Write-Up 20% 1, 2, 3, 4
Pre-Departure Quiz 20% 1, 2, 3

DAILY JOURNAL

For each day of the trip, individual students will be designated and provided with additional reading materials to provide background on the content of that day. Following the pre-departure course lectures on the topic, the designated individuals will prepare 15 to 20 questions to explore during their day’s visits which will be shared with the group the evening before. 

All students will maintain a notebook synthesizing for each day the learning points from their own daily field observations including observations on land use and changes between the stops as well as information generated from their own and other individual’s questions.  Each participant will submit by e-mail to the instructors a typed word document summarizing their observations based on their daily journal and including any relevant photos, maps and diagrams for each day of the trip except for the day upon which they are part of the designated group.  The participants designated for a specific day will submit a combined report for that specific day including any relevant photos and diagrams to the instructors by the deadline.

Active Participation, Engagement During Class and Field Trip

During the course sessions and field trip students will be evaluated based on their information exchange with farmer hosts, tour guide(s), instructors and fellow participants.  Successful information exchange consists of effective and courteous listening, questions and discussion.

Pre-departure Quiz

The pre-departure quiz will evaluate students' understanding of lecture material to better prepare them for the field component.  This quiz will be composed of multiple choice and short answer questions that cover the bio-geographical characteristics of tropical climates, the specific challenges and opportunities of agriculture in the tropics, as well as the biology, agronomy, and other aspects of specific crops that will be seen during the trip.

 

Final examination:

There is no final examination for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts

N/A

Recommended Texts

N/A

Additional Resources

CourseLink https://courselink.uoguelph.ca. Reading lists comprising web-accessible and other references for each topic area of the course will be provided to participants on CourseLink.

Field Trips

The field component will take place between 14th February and 24th February 2020. Students will fly from Toronto to San Jose, Costa Rica and travel by bus on a route through the Central Valley, the Caribbean Lowlands, the Central Cordillera and the Pacific west coast which covers the Humid Tropics, Tropical Savanna and High altitude Tropical agroecological zones. Visits to both small and large farm operations and the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) will expose students to a very wide range of tropical (and some temperate) crops and livestock production systems, the natural environment of the tropics as well as environmental management issues. The cost of the field trip is $3,200 in addition to normal University of Guelph fees. Students offered a place must confirm their registration with a $300 non-refundable deposit (cheque only – payable to the University of Guelph) by 1st November 2019. The balance of the trip cost ($2,900) is payable by cheque on or before Monday 6th January, 2020.

Additional Costs

Students are individually responsible for the costs of their travel document (passport), travel health insurance (required) and trip cancellation insurance (optional) and any personal expenses. The course cost covers all transportation, accommodation, meals in Costa Rica and exit visa.

 

Course Policies:

Other Course Information:

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

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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:

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For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email sas@uoguelph.ca or visit the Student Accessibility Services website: http://www.uoguelph.ca/csd/.

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