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Meeting the demand for sufficient food for an expanding world population, while preventing depletion of our natural resources and maintaining Earth’s biodiversity, is one of today’s worldwide complex challenges. It is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (2: Zero Hunger) and one of the aims within the European Green Deal of the European Commission (Farm to Fork).

To develop constructive perspectives on this highly complex issue, we need people with the capacity to combine knowledge of the Earth’s nature with knowledge of human behaviour, politics, economics, planning and communication. People who know how to translate scientific knowledge to policymakers, managers and the general public; both nationally and internationally. 

Minor Sustainable Food Systems


The minor covers 30 ECTS and can be completed in one semester. The minor programme consist of two core courses (together 9 ECTS) and at least 15 ETCS of specialisation courses (restrictive-electives). You can complete your minor with another (restricted OR free of choice) elective course of 6 ECTS.

Core courses (9 ECTS) 

There are two core courses: Philosophy of Science (3 ECTS) and Reflexive Design Project (6 ECTS) that run throughout the semester:

Philosophy of Science introduces the concept of wicked problems and discusses disciplinary versus interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches in science and society.       

In Reflexive Design Project, students with different specialisations and backgrounds will combine the knowledge they have gained to come up with new, integrated insights and innovative solutions for pressing food problems or related issues. This project is spread over four months and runs parallel to the other courses. An introduction to an (interdisciplinary) philosophy of science will help pave the floor to embark on such a joint endeavour. 

Specialisation (at least 15 ECTS of restrictive-elective courses)

This minor is meant for students from a wide variety of backgrounds from the natural ánd social sciences.

Did you complete courses in the natural sciences such as environmental science, biology, earth sciences, chemistry or a related discipline? Do you want to know more about plant-soil relations and how land use impacts the environment? Then the specialisation track Food Production and the Environment is for you.

Did you complete courses in the social sciences or related disciplines such as human geography, political science, planning, law, economics? Do you want to know more about the organisation and activities of food systems and its impact on society? Then the specialisation Food Systems and Society is for you.

Specialisation 1: Food Production and the Environment

Soils are essential for agriculture: they are the medium that plants grow in and supply the nutrients the plant require. In the first period you’ll will get a fundamental understanding of processes in soils, plants and their interactions, focusing on their role in agricultural systems. In class, lab and field you’ll learn to link fundamental concepts from plant science, agronomy, soil science and ecology to current societal issues and discussions. In the second and third period you will zoom out and learn about spatial patterns and diversity in biomes, land use and agriculture. You will apply state-of-the-art computational techniques and methods (e.g. Remote Sensing) to monitor and analyse a wide variety of landscapes.


If you have no prior experience with R and no affinity with coding, we recommend substituting World Food and Ecosystems for Modelling for Sustainability (period 2, 6 ECTS, not in overview)

Specialisation 2: Food Systems and Society

You will learn about the urban food system and how food is produced, processed, acquired, distributed, consumed as well as the way scraps are disposed of.

You will learn how systems can be transformed, about the governance perspective and a system innovation perspective. You will study how transnational food production, provision and consumption can be understood in terms of 'global food and/or value chains'.  


If you have completed courses in (urban) planning, you can substitute Introduction Spatial Planning with an open elective course of your choice.

Elective course (6 ECTS) 

You can complete your minor with another restricted-elective course or add 6 ECTS of another elective course of your choice.  

Entry requirements

The minor programme has a study load of 30 ECTS and is open to all Bachelor's students at the UvA and other universities. Candidates are required to have successfully completed - at least - the first year of an academic Bachelor's programme. English language proficiency is required. 

The courses in Food Production and the Environment are open to students who completed at least 30 ECTS in natural sciences (e.g. earth sciences, biology, chemistry).  

The courses in the Food Systems and Society are open to students who completed at least 30 ECTS in social sciences or related disciplines (e.g. political science, social geography, planning, law, economics, etc). 

This minor is open to international students with sufficient fluency in English, i.e. master the language at C1 level, as can be shown by an International Baccalaureate certificate, an IELTS test score > 7 or a TOEFL test score ≥ 95, or earlier academic education in English.

The maximum number of students in the minor programme is 40. 

Application and Admission

For UvA Students

  1. Apply for the minor until 17 June 2024 by completing this form.
  2. Register for courses in GLASS.

Non UvA Students

  1. Apply for the minor until 17 June 2024 by completing this form.
  2. Sign up as an elective student (bijvak student) for the Bachelor's programme in Future Planet Studies in Studielink before 8 May 2024. Important: make sure that your start date is 1 September 2024. You will not be able to sign up for the minor without enrolment. 
  3. Send a signed and stamped transcript of your study results so far to fps-iis-science@uva.nl
  4. Register for courses in GLASS.

More info and contact

Please contact Future Planet Studies of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS).

Facts & Figures
30 ECTS, 5 months
Language of instruction
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