Food Literacy For All Course

Winter Semester, 2017
6:30-8:00pm, Tuesdays
2 credits


Food Literacy for All (NRE.639.038 and ENVIRON305.003) will be structured as an evening lecture series, featuring 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 (signup here). 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.

Meeting Time

Winter term, 2017, Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 8pm. Angell Hall, Auditorium B

Community Attendees: 

Registration for each session will open one week prior (here). Space is limited.

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