Food Literacy For All Course

Watch Video Recordings from Winter 2017 Talks


Food Literacy for All (NRE.639.038 and ENVIRON305.003, 2 credits) is a community-academic partnership course started during the 2017 winter semester. 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.

The inaugural 2017 course was launched by a leadership team of Jennifer Blesh (agroecologist and SEAS faculty), Malik Yakini (Detroit Black Community Food Security Network) and Lilly Fink Shapiro (SFSI).

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 for the second year on Tuesday evenings during the winter semester of 2018. All past 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 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.

Community Attendees

Registration for each session opens one week prior.

Food Literacy for All is presented by the UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative. The 2017 course was made possible 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.