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Online Course

Sustainable Global Food Systems

University of Edinburgh via edX

Overview

We are currently facing one of the biggest challenges worldwide: how to feed a growing population without exhausting global resources.

This course examines food security from a food systems perspective and illustrates the major global challenges present, from the environmental impact of food production to the public health impacts of current and future diets. We look at where food systems and non-food policies interact, such as climate change and biodiversity conservation.

You will be introduced to some of the tools used to collect information about these issues, such as the use of big data, modelling and behaviour change models. Finally, you will learn some of the interventions used across food systems to address these global challenges, from sustainable agriculture measures and sustainable certification to dietary guidelines and behaviour change.

Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction to Food Systems

What are they? How do they function? What are the global challenges associated with food systems? How do you as an individual interact with these systems and challenges?

Week 2: Food Production Challenges

Food production creates significant environmental and social impacts. What are these? What are the barriers to sustainable agricultural production? What is already being done to reduce the impact of crop and livestock production, and what needs to change?

Week 3: Food Consumption Challenges

How we buy and consume food is a key driver in food systems and the impacts they have. What needs to be done differently to improve the environmental and health impacts of food consumption? What has been shown to work?

Week 4: Impacts of Global Food Systems

What are the main impacts? We look across the systems at trade, supply chain management, and global health impacts related to diet. We also think about how we collect data from individuals to understand what they eat, and how to translate that into a measure of impact.

Week 5: The Future of Global Food Systems

What does the future look like? We explore what interventions might work, as well as some of the broad tools that can be used to make food systems sustainable. We also examine examples of guidance that might help develop sustainable diets, and discuss the change in data availability and analysis that can help us understand the complex systems that feed us all.

Taught by

Dr Fiona Borthwick, Dr Jonathan Hillier and Dr Elaine Bannerman

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