933317 Organic farming in the public debate (in Eng.)

Vorlesung und Seminar
Vortragende/r (Mitwirkende/r)
Hartmann, Hendrik , Diez Sanjuan, Lucia
Angeboten im Semester
Sommersemester 2021
Unterrichts-/ Lehrsprachen


Today, most of the public debate about agriculture and alternative food and farming movements takes place in various types of mass media and social media.
Our modern agricultural and food systems are characterized by long, concentrated, and complex supply chains, and fewer but larger farms, food processors, and retailers. As a result, fewer and fewer people have direct experience with farmers, agriculture, and food production. We increasingly rely on second-hand information in the media to form our ideas about agriculture and make our choices in our modern agricultural and food system.

How alternative food movements like organic farming are portrayed in the media will affect how people perceive and interact with them. How we talk, write, post, etc. about organic agriculture will affect how people understand, evaluate, and treat it. Thus, media portrayal will ultimately influence the role that alternative food movements play in our society, as well as their future development.
For example, it will make a big difference whether organic farming is seen as a radical alternative that drives a transformation of our agricultural and food system, or whether it is described as an environmentally sound way to produce high-quality products for a growing market.

We see that media information is never objective or neutral. Every news article, every advertisement is written by someone. Powerful actors push their agendas through media communication. Critical analysis of public (media) debates can therefore tell us a lot about the dynamics and power relations in our agricultural and food system. Being able to perform such analysis is a key skill for future researchers, managers, farmers, legislators, and active citizens to understand organic agriculture and positively influence its future.

During and after its rapid growth, Austrian organic agriculture has been a hot topic of many public debates: conventionalization, fraud, food safety, etc. In this course, we will engage with these debates to better understand the role of Austrian organic agriculture in our society and we will equip students with the necessary tools to critically analyze these debates.

Aim of the course:
The aim of the course is
(I) to equip the students with the theoretical concepts and tools to critically analyze the public debates about Austrian organic farming
(II)to inform them about the current public debates about organic farming

In this way, the media literacy of the students will be promoted. In modern distanced agriculture food systems, critical media literacy is crucial to understand the role organic agriculture can play in our society and for the transformation towards more sustainable systems.

Inhaltliche Voraussetzungen (erwartete Kenntnisse)

Basic knowledge in organic agriculture is an advantage


After the completion of the course students will:
•have gained an overview about current debates about Austrian organic farming and the development of the organic movement in Austria
•Understand how mass and social media information is produced, communicated and how it influences our society and food systems
•Be able to critical analyze media information, their production and their consequences
•Be sensitive about importance of language use
•Have fostered their media literacy
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