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Sustainable Food Systems

Do you want to shape the future of food and become a change-maker? This minor will challenge you to come up with solutions towards a sustainable food system. You will work in an interdisciplinary team on a food-related project and deepen your understanding of food production and the food supply system.

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 programme includes core courses (grey), restricted-elective courses (green, blueorange or yellow) and, optionally, an additional elective course (pink):

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. 

Restricted-elective courses (15 - 21 ECTS) 

In addition, you can either deepen your knowledge of sustainable food production and its impact on the environment, or you can focus on the organisation and distribution of the food supply system. There are four specialisations, although you are free to select any combination of courses.  

Specialisation 1: Food Production and the Environment (green)
You will get a fundamental understanding of processes in plants and soils and their interactions, focusing on their role in agricultural systems. You will link fundamental concepts from plant science, agronomy, soil science and ecology to current societal issues and discussions.  The courses in this specialisation are:  

  • Plant-Soil Practical (3 ECTS, period 1) 

  • Plant- Soil Interactions in Food Production Systems (6 ECTS, period 1) 

  • World Food and Ecosystems (6 ECTS, period 2)

Specialisation 2: Monitoring & Modelling Food (blue)
You will learn to model and monitor the environment while learning about state-of-the-art computational techniques and methods. The courses in this specialisation are:  

  • Remote Sensing (3 ECTS, period 2) 

  • Modelling for Sustainability (6 ECTS, period 2) 

  • Programming in R (3 ECTS, period 3) 

Specialisation 3: Food Supply and Transforming Systems (orange)
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'.  The courses in this specialisation are:  

  • Governance & Systemic Transformation (6 ECTS, period 1) 

  • Political Economy of Transnational Food Chains (6 ECTS, period 2) 

Specialisation 4: Food and the City (yellow)
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. The courses in this specialisation are:  

  • Introduction Spatial Planning (3 ECTS, period 1) 

  • Food and the City (6 ECTS, periods 2 & 3) 


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 and Monitoring and Modelling Food are open to students who completed at least 30 ECTS in natural sciences (e.g. earth sciences, biology, chemistry).  

The courses in the Food Supply and Transforming Systems and Food and the City are open to students who completed at least 30 ECTS in social sciences (e.g. political science, social geography, urban planning). 

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

You can apply for the minor until 13 June 2022 by completing this form. Please also send your grade list to fps-iis-science@uva.nl after completing the form.

More info and contact

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

Facts & Figures
Mode Full-time
Credits 30 ECTS, 5 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September