Engagement in Food Systems

Global food systems are in crisis. Nearly a billion people are food insecure, and another billion suffer from diet-related disease. Current systems for producing, distributing, and processing food contribute to climate change, air and water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Shortsighted, inequitable and inefficient systems waste a third of agricultural production, and many farming methods undermine the very resources upon which they depend.

And yet, there are bright spots. Many efforts are underway to make food systems more sustainable and equitable. Farmers, researchers, policymakers, citizen advocates, chefs, and many others are at work on solutions: from agroecological farm management, to farm-to-school and farm-to-hospital distribution models, to policies that incentivize healthy, sustainable foods and regulate harmful agricultural chemicals.

The Food Systems minor at UC Berkeley aims to equip undergraduate students with the critical analytical, communication, and practical skills needed to assist in efforts to transform food systems. The capstone course of the Food Systems minor, called Experiential Learning Through Engagement in Food Systems, invites students to collaborate with diverse partners both affiliated and unaffiliated with the University of California: farms, grassroots organizations, businesses, UC Cooperative Extension, research centers, etc.

Projects are individually crafted to meet each student’s interest in food systems. By participating in engaged scholarship, students gain insight into the problems with our current food system, the challenges faced by those who attempt to change it, and the opportunities to overcome these challenges. Through iterative cycles of reflection and action, students develop both their understanding of food systems and their capacity to change them.

Stay Informed!

Interested members of the campus community are invited to sign up to the Food Systems minor listserves for announcements and for student posts.

Latest News

Students that need ESPM 197: Experiential Learning through Engagement in Food Systems to graduate with the Food Systems Minor in the 2018-2019 academic year should enroll for this course in the Fall 2018 semester. ESPM is unlikely to fund it again for the Spring or Summer 2019 semesters. Our class meets every other Monday from 11am-12 noon in 112 Hilgard: 8/27, 9/10, 9/24, 10/8, 10/22, 11/5, and 11/19. The steps to take this course are as follows.

  1. Please enroll in ESPM 197 (course number 14862). If you have a time conflict, just waitlist yourself and we will resolve it through a petition. We will do our best to choose a meeting time that fits with everyone’s class schedule.
  2. This survey is very helpful for me as the instructor to guide you in finding appropriate placements and projects to meet your interests

Anyone who wishes to discuss their project ideas or details of the course in advance are welcome to schedule office hours with me. Office hours are by appointment on Thursdays from 8:30am – 12:00 noon in 25 Hilgard.