ECONOMICS OF AGRI-FOOD NETWORKS
Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the coursework, it is expected that the student is capable of:
- knowing which economic actors, institutions, stakeholders and policies make up and shape different types of AFNs in the Italian, European and global context
- knowing how each element of an AFN is usually conceived to behave in the recent economic literature on the subject and how it can behave in the real-world organisation of an AFN, instead
- understanding the nature and form of the static and dynamic relationships existing among the elements of an AFN and how these affect the economic performance of the economic actors as well as the welfare of the Network, and of society at large
- knowing the most pressing societal issues which shape the organisation and success of AFNs
- knowing the specific economic language employed to describe, discuss and report on the organisation, operation and outcomes of AFNs
- applying the knowledge and understanding of the organisation and operation of the AFNs to real-world AFNs they will be exposed to by the instructor or will make direct experience of
- analysing the organisation and operation of the AFNs discussed in class, and they know and make experience of, applying the critical thinking that the coursework and lectures will have developed in them
- describing, discussing and reporting – in the English language – on the organisation, operation and outcomes of AFNs
- interacting in a lively manner in class during lectures and of evaluating the personal and colleagues’ contributions to the ongoing class discussions and discourse.
Course contents summary
The Economics of Agri-Food Networks (AFNs) coursework deals with the organization, functioning and outcomes of the system of actors which operate and interact to provide national and international consumers and societies with the agricultural commodities and food items they demand and need. The teaching activities will analyse each element of this complex organization in detail employing the analytical methodologies most suited for each actor of the AFNs and referring to the state of the art in economic research on these topics. Furthermore, it will provide real-life examples and opportunities for discussion in class. Because this coursework nests into the track of studies for international markets, the course proposes a focus on international trade, trade policies and trade flow figures for the agri-food industry.
The reading materials to prepare for the exam include the slides of the lectures, the papers to be analysed during the discussion of the case studies and any other additional material indicated by the instructor. All the relevant material will be listed and communicated to the students during the first lecture in class and will be distributed to the students on the Elly online platform.
Teaching activities to achieve the listed objectives, will be carried out relying on the following formats:
- acquisition of knowledge: lectures and seminars with practitioners and guest lecturers. Over the duration of the coursework, seminars with practitioners and guest lecturers will expose students to different perspectives on the pressing societal issues faced by AFNs. In particular, seminars will allow students to understand the operation of some of the institutions playing a crucial role in the organisation of AFNs and how they determine the different levels and types of performance of the AFNs
- acquisition of the ability to apply the analyses methodologies: exercises, study of cases. Exercises will allow students to practice the calculation of relevant parameters presented in theoretical terms during the lectures. They will require students to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired during the lectures. The study of cases consists of the critical analysis of research papers and additional knowledge in different formats (i.e., Podcasts and videos), dealing with selected relevant issues in the coursework in class
- acquisition of the autonomy of judgement: study of cases
- acquisition of learning skills: lectures will provide the students with the essential background knowledge instrumental to the understanding of the basic concepts necessary to proceed to deal with more demanding topics. Lessons will favor students' participation and critical evaluation of the main topics discussed
- acquisition of technical language: lectures, seminars with practitioners and guest lecturers, study of cases. The active discussion with students during lectures, seminars with practitioners and guest lecturers as well as the study of cases will develop students’ ability to communicate their point of view on the subject matter, employing also the specific technical language provided by the coursework
The teacher is available at office hours to assist students in the process of understanding and learning the teaching materials
Assessment methods and criteria
Knowledge acquisition will be verified by means of an additive evaluation considering:
- the result of a 2-hours written test, in English, on the main topics of the lectures delivered in class. The written test runs for 2 hours and requires the candidates to answer 2 essay-type questions. Students must demonstrate to be able to write coherent and argued answers which present, employing the relevant and specific economic terminology, the background and foreground knowledge provided by the coursework and by the study time. Furthermore, students will be required to tackle an additional question which requires them to calculate the results of a quantitative exercise, much like the ones proposed in class, and dealt with in the reading materials. The written test is marked on a 0-27 scale (out of a total of 30 points). Each essay-type question is valued a maximum of 11 points (out of a total of 30 points), while the exercise is valued a maximum of 5 points (out of a total of 30 points). Because the course is taught and (mainly) verified in English, the instructor shall provide students with a qualitative feedback on the quality of the written (and oral) English language employed. Outstanding mastery of the English language will contribute to achieving the “cum laude” grade
- the active engagement of students in the discussion of the case studies in class. A maximum of 2 points (out of a total of 30 points) will be awarded to students perform well at this activity
- the active participation and discussion of the issues presented during the seminars with practitioners and guest lecturers. A maximum of 1 point will be awarded to students who perform well at this task
- the results of an oral exam should it be required either by the instructor or the student
The results of the written test will be distributed to the students within one week of sitting in by means of the online platform Elly. Students are reminded that it is compulsory to register their attendance to both written tests and oral exams.