CCGL9016 Global Issues

Feeding the World

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

Continuing human population increases, competition for water supplies, and concern about energy prices have led to profound pessimism about long-term food supplies. Already a billion people go hungry every day. This course offers an in-depth look at key issues in global food sufficiency, food production, food distribution, prospects and constraints. You will develop an integrated technical, economic and political understanding of the global food supply crisis. You will be equipped to understand and appreciate media reports related to this issue in your lives as informed and influential citizens. Topics covered will include: global food production and population trends; the special problem of China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of food; the Green Revolution; alternative agricultures; meat production; agriculture as an energy-intensive business; water and agriculture; and biofuels.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain the Green Revolution and its relationship to future improvements in agriculture through biotechnology.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the critical issues facing China’s struggle to feed itself.
  3. Discuss critically the fundamental relationships among energy supply, energy cost, and food production.
  4. Use newly developed skills to critically read, analyze and interpret media reports on food supply related topics.
  5. Demonstrate investigative skills by preparing an in-depth group investigation (resulting in a 30 minute presentation) using library databases and FAOSTAT production data.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Sat)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Seminars 6.5
Reading / Self-study 40
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 12
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 60
Assessment: In-class test 1.5
Total: 156

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Quizzes / Participation 10
Proposal / Outline for essay 5
In-class test 50
Group project and presentation 35

Required Reading

Several newspaper, popular science, business school case studies, website references, and other teaching resources will be prepared using up-to-date sources for each class session. Extensive use will be made of FAOSTAT, an agricultural production database from the United Nations.

Recommended Reading

  • Leppman, E. J. (2005). Changing rice bowl: Economic development and diet in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • Tansey, G., & Worsley, T. (1995). The food system: A guide. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
  • Wittwer, S., Yu, Y., Sun, H., & Wang, L. (1987). Feeding a billion: Frontiers of Chinese agriculture. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.
  • Wrigley, C. W., Corke, H., & Walker, C. E. (2004). Encyclopedia of grain science (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier Academic Press. [Selected chapters]

Recommended Websites


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr G. Akom
Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 8576
Email: gvakom@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr G. Akom
Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 8576
Email: gvakom@hku.hk
Professor D.L. Phillips
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2859 2160
Email: phillips@hku.hk