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Writing a Recipe for Teaching Sustainable Food Systems: Lessons from Three University Courses

1
Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University, 228 Ballard Extension Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2
Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, 231 Ruttan Hall, 1994 Bufford Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA
3
Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, 205H Morrill Hall, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1898; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061898
Received: 15 May 2018 / Revised: 31 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 June 2018 / Published: 6 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching and Learning for Sustainability)
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Abstract

The sustainability of the food system is at the forefront of academic and policy discussions as we face the challenge of providing food security to a growing population amidst environmental uncertainty and depletion, social disruptions, and structural economic shocks and stresses. Crafting a sustainable and resilient food system requires us to go beyond disciplinary boundaries and broaden critical and creative thinking skills. Recent literature calls for examples of pedagogical transformations from food systems courses to identify successful practices and potential challenges. We offer a recipe for what to teach by framing systems thinking concepts, then discuss how to teach it with five learning activities: deductive case studies, experiential learning, reflective narrative learning, system dynamics simulations and scenarios, and inductive/open-ended case studies, implemented with collaborative group learning, inter/trans-disciplinarity, and instructor-modeled co-learning. Each learning activity is animated with concrete examples from our courses at Oregon State University, University of Minnesota, and University of Vermont, USA. We discuss opportunities and challenges implementing these strategies in light of student, instructor, and institutional expectations and constraints. But the challenge is worth the effort, because food system transformation requires active learners and systemic thinkers as engaged citizens, food system advocates, entrepreneurs, and policy makers. View Full-Text
Keywords: food systems; sustainability; undergraduate education; graduate education; system thinking; applied economics; interdisciplinary; transdisciplinary; reflective learning; collaborative learning food systems; sustainability; undergraduate education; graduate education; system thinking; applied economics; interdisciplinary; transdisciplinary; reflective learning; collaborative learning
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Brekken, C.A.; Peterson, H.H.; King, R.P.; Conner, D. Writing a Recipe for Teaching Sustainable Food Systems: Lessons from Three University Courses. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1898.

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