PUBAFRS 5900 Food System Planning and the Economy

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to build knowledge of the food system from local planning, policy, and applied economic perspectives. Food has traditionally been considered a national domain, and have dealt with issues such as public health, nutrition, anti-hunger, food safety, food labeling, international trade, and food aid. In the past several years, however, food has been recognized as an issue for local governance, planning, and economic development. Community food governance and planning (or lack thereof) affects the ways that people produce, obtain, consume, and dispose of their food, and how food is integrated into broader community goals.

The intent of the course is to familiarize students with key players and issues related to the practice of community food system planning (the process and practice of creating and implementing food policies) and how this practice interfaces with the economy – and to place these issues in a global context. Further, we explore how the food system is influenced by civic action and public policy. Building on these basic issues, the course will provide the fodder to examine and critique alternatives to this system (e.g., urban farming, local foods, direct markets, civic agriculture). The class is structured to develop and challenge participants’ thinking through readings, lectures, interaction with participants in the food system, and structured discussion. At the end of the class, students should have an increased understanding of food systems as a planning and community economic development topic.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the current state of the global food system
  • Recognize trends in the global food system affecting local conditions
  • Identify the many actors in the food system and the perspectives they bring to food system planning and practice
  • Identify the roles of the local policy-makers, planners, and economic developers in food system development
  • Critique alternative food system strategies
  • Apply information about the challenges of, and solutions to, current food system failures