Program structure

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During the two years of the programs, students will be required to complete 120 credits of coursework, which includes:

  • Agriculture and ecosystem services
  • Food systems governance and agriculture

Students with a life sciences background take:

  • Research methods in social sciences
  • History, societies and environment

Students with a social sciences background take:

  • Research methods and data science in the life sciencesand
  • either Priciples of organic farming or Soil and plant sciences or Organic livestock farming under temperate conditions

In small groups, students engage in research and/or transformation projects concerning food and agricultural systems and the role of Europe. Each project is supervised by two lecturers from different disciplines.

Different project topics and formats are offered every year. These can also be co-developed among students and lecturers. Some examples:

  • Colonialism, food culture, history and sustainability of rice cultivation in Africa.
  • What is 'sustainable'? Conceptual developments between cultural histories & the natural sciences
  • Transformation(s) of animal husbandry and human-animal interactions
  • Food culture, animal welfare and animal ethics in the Ahle Worscht cluster in North Hesse
  • The thawing permafrost of Siberia: Potentials and risks of agricultural development
  • Organic agriculture and agroecology in North Africa: From competition between cash crops and agroecology to compatible systems?
  • Impact of the new European conformity rules on third countries in the context of the reform of the organic farming regulation
  • The German Supply Chain Act and its impact on the Global South: The example of Indonesia
  • Alternative food networks and local context: historical and socio-economic comparisons between the EU and North Africa.
  • Agroecological innovation, power relations and international markets: Lessons from Latin America

Specialization courses in Agriculture and Ecology:

  • Unconventional livestock and wildlife

  • Livestock nutrition and feed evaluation under (sub)tropical conditions
  • Livestock‐based sustainable land use
  • Digitalization in livestock systems
  • Management of (sub‐)tropical land use systems
  • Organic food processing and food quality
  • Applied statistical modelling
  • GIS and remote sensing in agriculture
  • Sustainable diets
  • Modelling climate impacts on agroecosystems
  • Organic agriculture in Europe (online module in cooperation with universitiies throughout the continent)
  • Ecology and agroecosystems
  • Organic cropping systems under temperate and (sub)tropical conditions
  • Soil and water
  • Agrobiodiversity and plant genetic resources in the tropics 
  • Nutrient dynamics, experimental design and statistical modelling 
  • Digitalization in agriculture 
  • Biochar for Environmental Management 
  • Soil‐plant interactions

​​​​​​Specialization courses in Society and Environment:          

  • Critical perspectives on the global food system
  • Participatory research methods for sustainability
  • EU policies, organic farming and food system transformation
  • Management and management accounting
  • Sustainability‐oriented environmental social science
  • Climate change governance and one health
  • Marketing research
  • International organic food markets and marketing
  • Supply chain management
  • Spatial Dimensions of Sustainability Transitions
  • Sustainable behaviour and governance
  • Rural Sociology
  • Socio-ecology in livestock production systems
  • Methods of sociology and humanities 
  • Global political economy and development
  • Philosophy of sciences
  • Philosophy of environment and society

Individually, students may also choose from the wider course catalogue at Kassel University. Relevant courses at our partner universities and beyond can also be approved. Typically, these will be taken during an exchange semester in the 3rd semester.

The Language Centre offers courses in 11 languages, many focusing on particular subject areas and academic skills.

In their 4th semester, AGES students embark on an independent research project of their choice. In the thesis, they combine the theories, approaches and methods learned during their studies, document methodological confidence and reflection, generate independent theses and reflect on them against the background of the international research discourse. The progress of each thesis project is presented twice:

  • During the study colloquium, students present the methodological foundations as well as planning and early progress.
  • In the final colloquium, students share their work through a presentation and discussion with academics and ideally also with practitioners (depending on project theme).

Given its wide scope and few obligatory courses, AGES offers students the chance to proactively build their own professional profile. In our mandatory mentoring program, professors assist them 1-on-1 in this process.

Possible thematic clusters to specialise in include:

  • Agro-food system governance:
    • Focus on themes such as Institutional Economics, Institutions in the Food System, Rural Sociology, Political Economy and Development, Regional Planning and EU Institutions.
  • Social Movements and Advocacy:
    • Focus on themes such as Development Studies, Participatory Research Methods, Labor and Social Movement Studies, Human-Nature and Human-Animal Studies, Environmental Ethics, Gender Studies, and Social & Cultural History.
  • Management of agri-food transitions:
    • Focus on themes such as Sustainability Management, International Organic Food Markets and Marketing, Sustainable Diets, Supply Chain Management, Food Quality and Processing, and Consumer Studies.
  • Sustainable Agro-Ecosystem Design:
    • Focus on themes such as Ecological Plant and Animal Science, Agroecosystem Analysis and Modelling, Agrobiodiversity, Regional Planning, Pest Management, Water Management and Agroforestry, among many others.

Sample study plan

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