Food Literacy For All Course

Watch Video Recordings from Winter 2017 Talks

Winter Semester, 2017


Food Literacy for All (NRE.639.038 and ENVIRON305.003, 2 credits) is a community-academic partnership course started in Winter 2017. Structured as an evening lecture series, Food Literacy for All features different guest speakers each week to address diverse challenges and opportunities of both domestic and global food systems. The course is designed to prioritize engaged scholarship that connects theory and practice. By bringing national and global leaders, we aim to ignite new conversations and deepen existing commitments to building more equitable, health-promoting, and ecologically sustainable food systems.

This community-academic partnership course will be co-led by Jennifer Blesh, agroecologist and Assistant Professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, Malik Yakini, Executive Director and a co-founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and Lilly Fink Shapiro, Program Manager for the Sustainable Food Systems Initiative.

UM students can enroll in the course for credit and community members can attend the series for free. Food Literacy for All will take place Tuesday evenings during the winter semester of 2017.  All lectures are filmed and available here.

Course Summary

Concurrent food, energy, water, and climate crises, and a global rise in obesity amidst widespread hunger and undernutrition, have re-focused public attention on the deficiencies and complexities of the global food system. Yet, a diversity of ‘alternative’ food systems demonstrates that food systems can be nutrition sensitive, socially just, and conserve natural resources. Transforming food systems will require coordinated effort across scales, drawing upon diverse disciplinary and practical perspectives, and understanding how value systems shape food and agriculture. Linking theory and practice is also essential, involving the full range of actors moving food from farm to fork.

This new course offers a unique opportunity for students to gain an interdisciplinary introduction to food system issues through a seminar series bringing high profile speakers to campus from diverse sectors: policy, academia, grassroots movements, public health, conservation, and more. Students will integrate theory and practice through this partnership course that connects campus and community, led by a UM faculty member together with a co-instructor working to develop urban agriculture and enhance food justice and food sovereignty in Detroit. Students will develop competencies and cognitive skills in the area of food system sustainability including critical and systems thinking, community engagement, creativity, and analytical ability. This course is being offered as one component of a broader UM “Food Citizenship Project,” which is made possible by a Higher Education Challenge (HEC) grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The overarching goal of the project is to increase diversity and inclusion in sustainable food systems education. Click here to download the syllabus

Credits and Graded Components

This course is 2 credits, with a pass/fail option. Students will be graded based on their participation and attendance at weekly seminars, 10 postings on the course Canvas discussion board, and one-page reflective essays in response to five presentations of their choosing.

Community Attendees: 

Registration for each session opens one week prior.

Winter 2017 Speakers: 

January 10, 2017  Jennifer Blesh & Malik Yakini
January 17, 2017 Frances Moore Lappé
January 24, 2017 Ricardo Salvador
January 31, 2017 Raj Patel
February 7, 2017 Thaddeus Barsotti
February 14, 2017 Ari Weinzweig
February 21, 2017 Tim Crews
March 7, 2017 Linda Jo Doctor
March 14, 2017 Saru Jayaraman
March 21, 2017 Monica White
March 28, 2017 Michael Twitty
April 4, 2017 Wayne Roberts
April 11, 2017 Kelly Brownell

This course is presented by the UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative, with support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), LSA Instructional Support Services (LSA-ISS), the Office of the Provost, the International Institute, the Institute for the Humanities, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRGW), Graham Sustainability Institute, and the Center for Engaged Academic Learning (CEAL), Nutritional Sciences Department.