AGR*4600 Agriculture and Food Issues Problem Solving

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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 issues facing the agriculture and food sector are many and varied and relate to the economy, the environment and society. Within these issues there are problems which require thoughtful solutions. Working in teams, with guidance from faculty advisors, students will have an opportunity to develop solutions to real-world problems facing the agriculture and food sector. In the process students will have an opportunity to develop their research, communication, presentation, writing and group work skills.

The Agri-Food industry is continually dealing with the challenges of a rapidly changing socio-economic environment. The industry requires employees that work effectively in teams, are technically knowledgeable, can identify and effectively solve problems through critical thinking, goal-setting and strong presentation skills, and have an elevated level of integrity and emotional intelligence. This course is designed to equip individuals and teams with training, tools and techniques that develop the soft skills required by the industry through means of actual topic challenges facing the Agri-Food sector

Instructors:

Teaching Assistant:

Julie French, Robert Matson, Hannah Sweet, David Westerveld

Credit Weight:

1.0

Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture

Campus:

Guelph

Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to Web Advisor for course schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

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

  1. Apply knowledge of important agricultural and food industry trends and associated problems and challenges.
  2. Be critical and creative when applying solutions to industry issues
  3. Develop independent learning skills.
  4. Work with a group incorporating a variety of perspectives and personalities on an issue.
  5. Develop and improve written and oral communication skills.
  6. Gain experience in considering conciliation and compromise between positions on a given issue.
  7. Experience the challenges of applying academic knowledge to real-world problems.
  8. Find accurate and authentic information and to synthesize it into possible solutions to problems and challenges.
  9. Find and engage external experts.
  10. Incorporate external experts into issue events.
  11. Develop the ability for public engagement.

Lecture Content:

Lecture Content

This course is intended to provide senior undergraduate students with an opportunity to engage in the development, presentation and defense of a solution to a current problem or challenge related to a topical issue in the agriculture and food area. Students will have an opportunity in groups and individually to explore a topic in detail and to gain sufficient understanding to be able to develop and defend a solution to a challenge/problem in a given topic area, to question and refute an opposing solution and to engage in developing a mutually agreeable position. The course is an opportunity for students to witness the range of topics relevant to agriculture and food, to consider these issues from a range of perspectives, to explore the dynamics of a group effort in developing a focused solution to a given problem or challenge, the response from an audience to their solution and the process of reconciliation between disparate positions and varied solutions. 

Independent Study & Turning Information into Knowledge

The value of this course is strictly related to the course objectives. As such, the value of this course is achieved through the process prescribed in the course. What you learn from this course, therefore, depends in greatest part upon the level of contribution you make. In the information age, information is cheap and readily available. Information is all around us all the time. The challenge presented in this course is to find accurate and authentic information and to consolidate and synthesize it into valuable knowledge while developing soft skills including working with others and presentation skills.

Presentation and Defense of Your Ideas

Returning to some of the traditions of university education, including critical thinking, and the Socratic method, in this course you will function as a member of a team, using knowledge and problem-solving skills gained during your university career to work with a team to develop a defensible solution to a particular problem or challenge on an agricultural or food issue. As a group you be given an opportunity to present your solution and to question the solution of an opposing group. The topics will be chosen via a democratic process (see below) and the instructor will then craft opposing problem or challenge statements for each issue. 

Agreement and Common Ground

Some level of reconciliation and going forward will be the final outcome of each debate where the two debate groups will be facilitated by the instructor to develop a reconciliation position between the opposing positions.

Topics

Your specific topic will be determined via an issues identification process which the instructor will facilitate in the first class period. Groups will be formed early in the semester by the instructor who will also assign presentation dates and topics for each group.

Teams

Early in the semester you will be assigned to a team; you have undoubtedly had good and bad experiences with group-work, common in the working world.  As a team member in this course you are expected to use your experience to establish a functional group, with clear expectations of, and commitment from, its members.  Some class time will be allotted for group work.

 

Labs & Seminars:

n/a

Course Assignments and Tests:

Course Assignments and Tests:
 

Individual Assignments 50%
   Cases (Trillium, Monsanto, YU Ranch) 5% each      15%  
  Professional Portfolio     
      Foundation skills  10%  
    Weekly/Final Reflection    25%  
Group Assignments  50%
  Insight Report and solution Feedback  15%  
  Final Report 25%  
  Final Presentation  10%

Final examination:

There is no final exam scheduled for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

None.

Recommended Texts:

None.

Lab Manual:

None.

Other Resources:

n/a

Additional Costs:

n/a

Course Policies:

Grading Policies:

Class attendance is essential to complete weekly assignments since they are directly related to the lecture content. Unless otherwise stated assignments will be due prior to next class period. Penalties of 25% of assignment value per day will be applied to late submissions.  If you are having problems completing assignments for any reason, talk to one of the instructors

Group Policy on Course Work:

It is expected that everyone in a group contributes equally and fairly. Part of the evaluation is grading of group (team) members. 

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:

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:

Accessibility

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 sas@uoguelph.ca or visit the Student Accessibility Services website: http://www.uoguelph.ca/csd/.

Course Evaluation Information

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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.

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