934300 Gender, food systems and natural resources

Lecture and seminar
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Steiner, Tim , Lemke, Stefanie , Stadlmayr, Barbara
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


This course critically assesses how the use, management and knowledge of land, water and the wider ecology is gendered. While women’s importance as users, guardians and managers of natural resources and their roles in enabling family food and nutrition security are highlighted globally, the rights to land, water and trees, as well as access to other resources, infrastructure and services, are vested in men. In this course we aim to understand these contradictions, and their implications in different farming systems, practices and socio-political contexts. We will investigate the theory, policy and practice of gender in the governance of food systems and natural resources; and analyse the shortcomings of attempts to integrate women into development programmes. This course will further introduce alternative rights-based approaches to food systems and natural resources, such as food sovereignty, food justice and the right to food, from the perspective of social movements and civil society. In order to achieve a more sustainable use of natural resources it is crucial to understand how and by whom they are used, managed and governed and what are the challenges and barriers, but also the opportunities for different actors. In order to leverage a transformation toward food and nutrition security for all, a societal transformation is urgently required and more attention has to be paid to underlying structural power dynamics and inequalities among the actors involved. We will assess relevant Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., SDG2, SDG5, SDG12) and the role they play in these processes. To enable students to analyse and/or undertake research on people-nature-food linkages, we will explore conceptual frameworks, analytical insights and methodological tools stemming from different approaches to addressing gender. These frameworks will be based on thematic case studies that will provide deeper insights into different geographic, socio-economic and socio-cultural contexts.

Previous knowledge expected

Interest in the topics relating to this course. Students from a diversity of disciplines and backgrounds are invited to join.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

On completion of this course, students will be able to:
1.Understand meanings and interpretations of gender in theory, policy and practice, and how these impact on the development and governance of food systems and natural resources.
2.Assess how structural inequality and different forms of violence undermine diverse rights of people, with a focus on how this relates to the sustainability of natural resources.
3.Explore how social movements and civil society challenge the dominant agri-food system, focusing in particular on the concept and practice of food sovereignty, food justice and the right to food.
4.Critically assess diverse research approaches and methodologies and the positionality of researchers as well as ethical implications of research.
Students will gain key competences in:
-scientific reading and writing, working with academic literature through guided reading, presenting and discussing readings in class, writing an annotated bibliography (as part of the assessment, 50%)
-media-supported presentation skills, producing a podcast
-team work capacity
-facilitation skills, through active participation in different interactive formats (e.g., World Café, Fishbowl discussion) and online facilitation
-discussions and plenary debate
-peer review: receiving and providing guided feedback
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.