#9 Farming: A Lens for Exploring the Anthropogenic Impacts of Environmental Change

Professor Rubenstein is the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, as well as the Director of the Program in Environmental Studies. His research focuses on decision-making in animals. Rubenstein studies how an individual's foraging, mating and social behavior are influenced by its phenotype, by ecological circumstances, and by the actions of other individuals in the population. He develops simple mathematical models to generate predictions that can be tested using data gathered from structured field observations or experimental manipulations to search for general principles, or 'rules', that underlie complex patterns of behavior. Rubenstein joined Princeton University in 1980 after completing his doctoral studies at Duke University and a research fellowship at King's College, Cambridge University, U.K.

April 30, 2019 -  9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Daniel Rubenstein, Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

This seminar focuses on agriculture and the impacts that our food and farming choices have on the environment.  An interdisciplinary, historical lens will be based scientific thinking and as a way of knowing as we address the various environmental, social and nutritional repercussions of how society feeds itself now and in the future.  Topics include the origins of agriculture, industrial food production, the overexploitation of land and oceans, and the farms of the future.

Participants will read DeFries’ The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis as we consider the paths we have chosen as a result of twentieth century technologies and innovations.  What has happened to our environment as humans have moved from hunters and gatherers, to shoppers in the aisles of the supermarket and online?  How are we preparing for a future where society will have to secure more nourishment on a planet running increasingly short on the land and resources needed to provide it?