Excursions in the World Food System

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The BSc course "Exkursionen im World Food System" aims to strengthen the student’s competencies to establish links between course topics of the first year’s lectures to hand-on experiences in their field of their study.

While excursions had to be cancelled in 2020, in 2021, the excursion program had to be strongly reduced. Instead, the instrument of the «self-guided excursion» was introduced aiming to create a hands-on learning environment that would lead students away from online teaching screens. Students chose a crop or a livestock species as their self-study object, documenting their observations based on given guidelines in individual Polybook articles. They interchanged and discussed their articles thereby correcting and improving their own contributions. Thus, students were challenged to develop their independence in organisation, observation, and research. In addition, they practiced their abilities to record observations and to critically read and comment the work of their peers and engage in discussions while preserving the real-world experience otherwise lost during remote teaching and learning

Information on teaching mode (remote, online, hybrid, synchronous, asynchronous etc.)

On excursions, students can apply and memorise the content learnt in lecture through applying and using multiple skills and senses, and thereby directly draw a link between theory learnt and practice applied. Additionally, emotional experiences might be involved. Learning takes place in an informal atmosphere among the students themselves, but also between the students and their professors/docents. In the spring-semesters of 2020 first year excursions in Agricultural sciences where cancelled due to Covid measures, while in 2021, a reduced amount of excursion could be offered . In order to preserve at least part of the “excursio”-experience (latin ex=out, currere=run), we introduced the “self-guided excursion” as a partial replacement in the spring of 2021. Students chose a crop or a livestock species occurring in their neighbourhood as their self-study object. They visited the study object three times at regular intervals during a given time period during the semester and took notes and photos about their research objects based on a given observations guidelines. The observations where continuously documented in individual Polybook-articles. In preparation of the end-of-semester event, students had to finalise their own Polybook articles and comment the reports of a group of colleagues who had chosen a comparable crop or livestock species. At the event they would discuss their experiences as self-guidedresearchers within the group, with one student taking the moderator and time-keeper roles. In this course, students developed their independence in organisation, observation and research on a crop or livestock species of their choice. They practiced their abilities to record their observations and to critically read and comment the work of their peers and engage in discussions.

Involvement and active participation of students

o According to the ETH Zurich/LET ad hoc student survey in the autumn semester 2020, «physical activity, sport» was most frequently mentioned in the category «makes me feel well, I would recommend it to others». The self-guided excursion contributed to this goal and students were encouraged to reach their observation sites on foot or by bike.

Communication (channels student-lecturer, student-student, lecturer-lecturer)

o Documents and videos on moodle for initial instruction, e-mail for announcements.

o Student-student: comment-function in Polybook for written comment, and real discussions at end-of-semester event.


Ways that students receive support and feedback

o Only Peer-Feedback, but general discussion of major findings as part of the end-of-semester event.

o The docents would restrain themselves from being involved to correct texts or ask questions, but would have been ready to intervene in cases where students were making serious mistakes which were not noticed by their peers or when students would not participate at all.


o Non-graded, non-mandatory element in 2021, but all students participated.

o Will be a mandatory element from 2022 onwards, pass criteria include a well-structured and written report, rubrics-based peer-feedbacks and active participation in the end-of-semester discussion rounds.

Course Description

Exkursionen im World Food System
Auf den «Exkursionen im World Food System» erweitern und vertiefen die Studierenden der Agrar- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften Vorlesungsinhalte der ersten beiden Studiensemester und setzen sie in Bezug zur Praxis entlang der Nahrungsmittelwertschöpfungsketten.
Die Studierenden
- erweitern und vertiefen Themen aus den Vorlesungen «World Food System», «Kulturpflanzen im World Food System», «Nutztierwissenschaften im World Food System», «Agrarökonomie im World Food System» sowie «Diversität der Algen und Pilze» in der Praxis
- erarbeiten sich anhand von Vorbereitungsmaterialien vor der Exkursion selbständig Wissen zu einem gegebenen Exkursionsthema
- formulieren Fragen an die Exkursionsleitung und Exkursionsbeteiligten und diskutieren diese mit ihnen und untereinander
- geben Feedback zu den besuchten Exkursionen
Bachelor Course
70, participation of more students would be possible