This fall, CALS undergrads have a new food systems-related course option: Foundations in Agroecology (AGRON/ENTOM/C&E SOC 375). This interdisciplinary course, which aims to engage students in the complex interactions of agricultural production and food systems through multiple lenses, is led by agronomy professor Randy Jackson; community and environmental sociology professor Michael Bell; entomology professor Claudio Gratton; and CALS/agronomy student services specialist Alan Turnquist.

Foundations in Agroecology is the third of three new food systems-focused courses developed in response to a call for proposals from the CALS Dean’s Office back in early 2015. Through the CALS Strategic Planning process, Food Systems was identified as a priority theme for the college, and listening sessions identified the need for course options that introduce students to the basics of food systems and the important roles that agriculture plays in such systems. The call – and the three selected courses – were designed to build strength in this priority area.

“CALS has always been engaged in research and instruction around food and how it’s produced, distributed, and consumed. And yet we’ve had few courses to help students understand the interconnectedness of the scientific, economic, and social aspects of food, in spite of the strength and breadth of our expertise in these areas. I’m excited to see this integrative approach to the study of food, and I hope it will serve as a model for other subject areas,” says Sarah Pfatteicher, associate dean for academic affairs.

The other two food systems courses – described below – were first offered in spring 2016, and are currently going through the process of seeking permanent course status.

  • FOOD SCI 375: The New Food Movement: Fundamentals of Food Policy. A foundation course on Food Policy that deliberately and intentionally explores social, economic, and ethical trends in the context of food policy and politics. Lead instructors: Steve Ventura, Soil Science; and Monica Theis, Food Science.
  • DY SCI 375: Food Systems, Sustainability, and Climate Change. A capstone course on food systems, sustainability, climate change, health and wellness that delves into aspects of agricultural, biological, social, and human underpinnings in the assessment of food systems as related to sustainability. Lead instructors: Michel Wattiaux, dairy science; Erin Silva, plant pathology; Alfonso Morales, urban and regional planning; and Kathryn Anderson, community and environmental sociology.