933317 Organic farming in the public debate

Lecture and seminar
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Freyer, Bernhard , Groot Nibbelink, Linda , Egger, Moritz
Offered in
Sommersemester 2019
Languages of instruction


Since more than 500 years the globalization lead to exchange of all kind of agricultural and other resources all around the world. With that also people where moving and with the people and the plants and animals all kind of pest and diseases. This epoch is also named homogenocene.

It is defined as:
Homogenocene (from old Greek: homo-, same geno-, kind, kainos-, new and -cene, period) is a more specific term used to define our current geological epoch, in which biodiversity is diminishing and biogeography and ecosystems around the globe seem more and more similar to one another mainly due to invasive species that have been introduced around the globe either on purpose (crops, livestock) or inadvertently.

The homogenocene epoch is defined through the Human impact on the environment where agriculture and human consumption is one of the driving factors (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_impact_on_the_environment)
Current agrofood systems are one of the responsible human activities with negative impact on environment. Over decades all kind of farmers and researchers try to develop alternative agrofood systems to reduce this impact, not only on environment but also on the social live and human health.

Well known is organic farming and related orientation to more local food, fair prices and less meat in the diet. But today there are many other concepts – we can argue there is an inflation of agricultural and food approaches - and it is hard to understand the differences between all them.

There are many new trends and terms in sustainable production and food issues: market gardening (Jean-Martin Frotier), four season gardening, permaculture, holistic grazing, conservation agriculture, regenerative agriculture, natural gardening and others. The question arises: what is then organic in between?

Therefore it is of interest to understand the diverse approaches ecological, cultural, economic and political dimensions, to be able to make a choice how the produce and how they consume.

1.What do the diverse systems promise?
2.What do they include in terms of an alternative way of producing, social impacts, economic concepts and others?
3.How the diverse systems are administered (control and certification, etc.)?
4.What is the potential of the systems for upscaling?

Previous knowledge expected

Basic knowledge in organic agriculture and qualitative interview methods are an advantage

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

Students, who fulfil the requirements for passing this course will:

1) gain an advanced / profound knowledge of focus group methods
2) gain an advanced / profound knowledge of the discourse on Organic Food systems
3) be able to identify and critically reflect upon and interpret discourses in their day to day life
4) increase their confidence about presenting and discussing their own ideas and viewpoints
5) know about the diverse agrofood systems specifications
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.