Course Information Undergraduate prospectus

Agricultural Innovation for Development

Course summary

Course code: AGRI1166
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Course Coordinator(s): Adrienne Martin

Specification

Aims

The central theme of this course is innovation to address the economic, social and institutional and policy dimensions of sustainable agriculture and natural resource use. Advances in technology have brought about significant changes in agricultural and natural resource productivity and international trade is providing expanding urban populations with an increasing range of products. However, there are important challenges – in particular, the need to develop resilience and capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to increase production without compromising the sustainability of the planet. This is in a context of a changing institutional landscape and decline of public sector investment in agriculture and natural resources related research, development and training. Linkage to international markets can bring benefits, but also risks of fluctuation in prices and demand. These factors can have an impact from the international level, down to the smallest village in developing countries, where a considerable burden of poverty remains, often falling disproportionately on women.

Narrow sectoral approaches are inadequate to deal with the complexity of these interrelationships. An increasing requirement is to understand and use approaches, tools and methods which encourage integrated ‘systems’ thinking, broader based partnerships for innovation, and the participation of farmers, natural resource users and other major stakeholders in innovation processes, including problem diagnosis, planning, implementation, social learning, scaling up and evaluation. The course will explore principles and approaches to stimulating innovation in agricultural production and environmental management.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Critically reflect on the characteristics, concepts and inter-relations among farming systems, sustainable rural livelihoods, value chains, food systems and agricultural innovation systems approaches and their application to current development challenges and the factors that influence them.
2 Understand the policies, institutions, principles and relevance of gender analysis, social inclusion and participation for agricultural and natural resource innovation for development. Identify issues influencing participation in innovation processes, collective action, knowledge sharing, social learning and governance
3 Critically assess alternative organisational approaches to agricultural transformation and the potential trade-offs, e.g. smallholder producer organisations, cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, private investment in agribusiness; public/ private partnerships and finance.
4 Drawing on the concepts and approaches covered in the course, be able to formulate proposals for application in real work situations.

Indicative content

• Overview of historical changes in approaches to agricultural and natural resources research and development towards more integrated systems thinking.
• The agricultural innovation systems approach: characteristics and examples of successful and less successful multi-stakeholder partnerships and discussion of the external factors that influence them.
• Equity, poverty and gender in agricultural and natural resource innovation for development - principles and relevance of gender analysis and social inclusion.
• Innovation and sustainable livelihoods. Agricultural development and environmental management for enhanced food security, nutrition and health.
• Adaptation to climate change and innovation in climate smart agriculture and natural resource management.
• Participation of farmers, natural resource users and other major stakeholders in innovation processes. Collective action for management of natural resources, including common pool resources (forest, pasture water etc.)
• Methods for interaction and communication with farmers, enterprises and policy makers; knowledge sharing, including use of ICTs to link knowledge producers and potential users and social learning approaches
• Policies and institutions supporting agricultural innovation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources, including governance, land rights and tenure.
• Alternative approaches to agricultural transformation and their potential trade-offs, e.g. smallholder producer organisations for production and/or value addition, cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, private investment in agribusiness; public/ private partnerships and finance. Social, economic and environmental implications
• Student group work and presentations demonstrating application of innovation concepts and approaches in work situations, e.g. in the context of climate smart agriculture and natural resource management; agriculture, food and nutritional improvement, small enterprise development etc.

Teaching and learning activity

Material will be delivered in interactive lectures, group work, guided discussions, video from field situations and case-studies led by those with recent first-hand field experience.

Assessment

Are students required to pass all components in order to pass the course? Yes

Method of summative assessment: Essay
Outcomes assessed:1,2,3,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 50%
Word Length: 2000 - 2,500 words plus bibliography
Outline Details: Essay selected from a set of questions relating to the learning content and outcomes.

Method of summative assessment: Presentation
Outcomes assessed:2,4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % : 50%
Passmark: 50%
Outline Details:Group presentation on a set topic exploring how students propose to apply innovation systems thinking in a real life situation.
Guidance will be provided on how to make a good presentation, and constructive feedback will be given. The groups will work together on the assignment and its presentation, but define individual roles and contributions. Individual marks for the presentation will be a combination of the overall group score (the group marked as a whole out of 50) and their individual performance (marked out of 50).

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
Guided group discussion on a case study.