• University of Exeter

Future Food: Sustainable Food Systems for the 21st Century

Find out what sustainability means for food and explore the challenges of our journey towards a more sustainable food future.

10,887 enrolled on this course

Future Food: Sustainable Food Systems for the 21st Century
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    Learn at your own paceHow it works
  • Unlimited

    $23.33/monthLearn more

Learn to define key terms related to sustainable food

What are sustainable food systems? And why are they so important for the future? With this course, you can explore these questions and more.

You’ll learn about how our understanding of diet, health, and food production is changing, why food security and sustainable agriculture is essential, and how we can make positive future steps.

Learn how culture, sustainability, and technology is changing the future of food production

Food production has transformed our planet. Currently, 40% of the land’s surface is used for agriculture, meaning soils and freshwater are under threat, and fisheries are overexploited.

With this sustainable food systems course, you’ll discover why this means that millions of smallholders are facing economic uncertainty, and how just four transnational companies control the global grain supply.

Explore the challenges of climate change and the proposed solutions

Ultimately, by 2050, we must feed 9 billion people in the face of a changing climate. You’ll find out how agroecology sustainable food systems can help through economic, social, and environmental incentives. On this course, you’ll learn about some of the obstacles facing the future of food production, as well as some potential solutions.

Find out how changing and sustainable food systems can impact you and the planet

You’ll also learn about the global food system as a whole, as you explore everything from individual food choice to the impact of agriculture on climate change.

The future of food will be shaped by a change in our attitudes towards consumption and production. With this course, you can find out how sustainable agriculture and food systems can play a part in creating this future.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Hi, I’m Dr. Dan Bebber from the Department of Biosciences, University of Exeter. And I am Natalia Lawrence, Associate Professor in psychology. And we’re the academic leads for this future food MOOC. Currently, agriculture uses about half the world’s land surface to produce food, and that’s a huge impact on global biodiversity and ecosystem services. By the year 2050, we’re going to have to feed an extra 3 billion people, and we’ll have to do that sustainably without wrecking the planet and in a changing climate. In this four-week course, my colleagues and I will guide you through some of the huge challenges we face feeding the growing population healthily and unsustainably.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds You’ll learn not only some of the great challenges we face, but the solutions being developed to address them. We are joined by Exeter University experts in psychology, nutrition, anthropology, geography, agriculture, biology, economics, and policy. This course really takes a multidisciplinary perspective on the subject of future food. This is an exciting opportunity to find out how we can make a difference from the food choices we make as individuals to the impacts of agriculture on the environment. You’ll have the chance to analyse the issues and debate possible solutions with fellow students. Here’s a flavour of some of the big questions we’ll be asking. Should we support organic farming? Can meat be produced sustainably? Should governments subsidise farming?

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds And should we produce genetically modified foods? Experts agree that the food system requires a revolution to avoid disaster in the near future. But fortunately, change is happening. So come and join us to find out more and be part of the change.

What topics will you cover?

Diets and Health

  • Changing food cultures
  • Diets for personal and planetary health
  • The drivers of eating behaviour

Impacts of Production

  • How crops have changed the planet
  • Over-fishing and fisheries
  • Livestock farming and the environment

Food Security

  • Adapting to climate change
  • Conserving our soils
  • Novel technologies

Food Governance

  • Empowering farmers and smallholders
  • Food as a commodity
  • Ecosystem services

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Investigate global patterns and trends of food consumption and production
  • Discuss what sustainability means with reference to food
  • Explain where and how to find reliable information about food
  • Debate the main issues related to food
  • Discuss how individuals choose their food and what effects this has
  • Explore how technological advances are changing the food system

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for anyone interested in food sustainability. Whether you’re thinking about a career related to the future of food or sustainable agriculture, or simply want to find out more about these fascinating areas, this is the course for you.

Who will you learn with?

I am an Associate Professor in Psychology who studies human eating behaviour and develops novel interventions to help people eat more healthily and sustainably.

Dr Dan Bebber is an ecologist with an interest in the impacts of climate change on diseases of agricultural crops. His current research focuses on diseases of tropical crops like bananas and coffee.

Dr Bethan Stagg is Digital Education Officer at The Field Studies Council. Toolbox of Multi-species Swards for sustainable livestock production. Allotment grower. @BethanStagg on Twitter.

Who developed the course?

University of Exeter

The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university. It combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction.


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