Agrarian Systems Analysis

TPSS 670


Noa Lincoln

Semesters taught:

Fall 2016


-       To be familiar with the range of research methodologies that can be applied to agrarian systems;

-       To recognize the multiple value-systems associated with agrarian systems and the complex nature of balancing those values;

-       To be able to qualitatively and quantitatively assess agrarian systems across multiple bottom lines;

-       To develop writing and oral communication of ideas; and

-       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.

Skills and knowledge to be acquired:

Interdisciplinary understanding of multifunctional agriculture, and assessment and interpretation of farming systems.


Comparative analysis of philosophy and process of interdisciplinary and participatory approaches to sustainable development and rural resource management including ecosystem services (ES), agroecosystem analysis (AEA), participatory action research (PAR), and rapid rural appraisal (RRA).



Course organization:

Week 1                        Introduction to course, students and instructors. Syllabus overview. Systems thinking, agrarian systems, Hawaii as a model system


Week 2                        Experimentation (Experiments, quasi-experiments, natural experiments), quantitative assessments of agrarian systems, environmental impacts and measurements


Week 3                        Primary and Secondary Data (Meta Analysis, correlations and statistics, spatial analysis), agricultural data sources


Week 4                        Qualitative Methods (Case studies, comparative case studies, ethnography and interviews, surveys), qualitative assessments of agrarian systems, social impact and justice


Week 5                        Mixed methods and interdisciplinary research, citizen science, participatory research, and service, multiple value tools


Week 6                        Farm-level assessment tools (Rapid Rural Appraisal, Agroecosystem Analysis, Participatory Learning Approach), Farms in Hawai‘i


Week 7                        World Food Economy, International agricultural development, Agricultural policy


Week 8                        Mid-term examination


Week 9                        Student Led Discussions


Week 10                      Student Led Discussions


Week 11                      Student Led Discussions


Week 12                      Student Led Discussions


Week 13                      Interviews and Interviewing Skills


Week 14                      Assessment Design


Week 15                      Assessment Design


Week 16                      Assessment Review and Discussion


Week 17                      Assessments Due


Course Section

Percentage Grade





Oral Assign.


Writing Assign.


Discussion Lead