University of Oxford students from a wide range of disciplines attended the launch of the Interdisciplinary Food Systems Teaching and Learning (IFSTAL) programme on 17 October 2019 as the innovative programme entered its fifth year. Launches at partner institutions in London and Warwick also drew graduate students eager to learn more about the food system.
The programme aims to help address the systemic failings in food systems which have resulted in about one billion people being hungry, two billion lacking sufficient nutrients and over two billion overweight or obese – all while also causing significant environmental degradation.
Professor Gillian Rose, Head of the School of Geography and the Environment, addressed the attendees of the Oxford launch. Highlighting the added value of the programme and the power of interdisciplinary learning, she also stressed the opportunities IFSTAL provides for students to boost their learning and engagement portfolio. Participants learn in an interactive manner; they have the opportunity to attend workshops, lectures and webinars, and a one-week summer school, supported by a wealth of learning materials on an online portal.
Setting transformation of the food system firmly in its sights, the curriculum engages actively with the food system, from global food retailers and food businesses to NGOs and individuals making a difference.
Launched in 2015 and co-ordinated by the ECI’s Food Systems Group, the free-to-attend programme addresses the urgent need for a workforce skilled in food systems thinking. With over 1,400 students engaged to date, IFSTAL’s alumni network is already having an influence as former students take on roles in the global food system.
For 2019/20, students from the University of Oxford, University of Warwick and the London Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) – comprising the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) – will follow the programme. The charity Compassion in World Farming is also lending its backing for 2019/20.
The IFSTAL programme has been supported by a wide range of organisations across Government, industry and NGOs who have spoken at workshops and summer schools over the past four years.
“We’re really pleased this innovative teaching programme has launched for a fifth year,” said John Ingram of the ECI Food Systems Group, the Programme Leader and founder of IFSTAL. “It is designed to address the need to bring about system transformation and equips students with the broader knowledge to apply their specific disciplines more effectively to help bring about this change.”
An alumna of the IFSTAL programme addresses the 2019/2020 cohort