Agriculture, Environment, and Society

TPSS 200


Noa Lincoln


The goal of this introductory course is to establish foundational knowledge of agroecosystems and socio-economic systems that govern our food production and consumtion. Emphasis is on the interrelationship among the crop plants, the environment, and social and cultural practices. Key goals are to introduce students to the broad range of topics covered within agroecosystems, as well as systems thinking, different epistemological views, and oral discussion and argument. 

Skills and knowledge to be acquired:

- To understand the range of topics that are encompassed with Tropical Agroecosystems and the Environment - To explain how plants interact with natural and artificial environments, how those interactions affect development and productivity, and the feedback processes between plants, the environment, and societies - To understand the role of cultural perspectives in perceived value - To develop writing and oral communication of ideas - To be able to apply the concept of system thinking to complex problems, ask critical questions, and recognize the importance of cultural epistemology in thinking about solutions

Computer skills to be acquired:

Word Processing, Excel Spreadsheets, and Internet Searches for technical and non-technical sources.


Officially none, but Biology and Chemistry are preferred.

Films and videos:


Guest Speakers:


Field Trips:


Course organization:

  • Introduction to Tropical Agroecosystems
  • Wicked Problems and System Thinking
  • Hawaii as a Model System
  • Traditional Hawaiian Agricultural Systems and Biocomplexity
  • Soils
  • Plant Physiology
  • Climate and Weather
  • Origins of Agriculture
  • Cropping Systems
  • Agricultural Services
  • Farm Economics, Politics, and Global Food Economy
  • Agricultural Models


Grading will be on the basis of the following: 

Two one hour mid-terms (40%), Quizzes (approximately weekly) (20%), Writing assignments & Oral Presentation (20%), Final exam (cumulative) (20%).

Letter grade assignments will be made on the basis of the following percentages: A - 90 - 100; B - 80 - 89; C - 70 - 79; D - 60 - 69; F - 0 - 59.

The grade assignment procedure may be modified to take into consideration natural groupings of scores. This option will be used only to adjust borderline grades.


Course Website: