Free Online Course on 'Food Security and Sustainability' by Wageningen University

The rapidly increasing demand for nutritious food and its future consequences for the environment call for a much greater understanding of the global food system. WageningenX, by mobilizing a large and international community, addresses this needs effectively by offering different massive online open courses (MOOCs) within its domain. Theit courses train (future) professionals in sustainable food systems and reach out to consumers to help them make informed choices about what they eat, how it is produced and the impact of their choices on the environment and society.

The complexity of global food systems requires training in a diversity of disciplines from ‘farm’ to ‘fork’. These are all imbedded in the mission of Wageningen University and Research centre: To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life! The union of expertise in various fields of natural and social sciences that Wageningen University offers, leads to scientific breakthroughs that can quickly be put into practice. Moreover, our well known research centres constantly enrich our educational programmes with the latest scientific insights.

Online Course: Food Security and Sustainability: Systems thinking and environmental sustainability

Course starts: 8 September 2016 | Duration: 6 weeks | free of charge (certificate available for $49)

Understanding and working with the complexity of sustainable food production systems requires training in different disciplines and an approach that can address this complexity at the system level. This environmental studies course enables participants to apply the principles of a systems approach to food production systems with a focus on environmental sustainability. We will analyze production systems at both ends of the spectrum: highly productive systems with relatively high inputs and emissions to the environment, and low productive systems with low input use and depletion of soil fertility. Crop-livestock interaction is a focal point.

The course includes:

  • Introduction to the complexity of food production systems
  • Introduction to systems thinking
  • Analysis and comparison of the productivity of food production systems and the environmental issues
  • The assessment of environmental sustainability using indicators (this last topic allows students to integrate topics of previous modules)

What you'll learn

  • Understand the complexity and diversity of food production systems
  • Use a systems approach in the context of food production systems
  • Understand the principles of system analysis and how it can be applied in the context of food production systems
  • Understand evaluation methods for environmental impact of food production systems in different agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts and at different levels (e.g. farm, regional and global)
  • Evaluate strong and weak points of different food production systems in terms of environmental sustainability

Source and further information: edX