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CALS offers new minor in community food systems

By Krisy Gashler
periodiCALS, Vol. 6, Issue 2, 2016

Students interested in learning about the social, political and agricultural aspects of food systems can choose a new minor, starting this fall, in community food systems

The new multidisciplinary minor enables students to take classes that explore agricultural, ecological and ethical considerations in the ways we grow food. 

Scott Peters, professor of development sociology, said the minor was developed through the Food Dignity project, a five-year, $5 million grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and an Engaged Curriculum Development grant from Engaged Cornell.  

“Unlike some current offerings at Cornell, our central focus is not on agronomy, plant science or nutritional science. We are looking more at the social, cultural and political issues that have to do with the work of building a food system that is more sustainable and more just. One that contributes to issues related to equity and democracy,” Peters said.

Rachel Bezner Kerr, Ph.D. ’06, associate professor of development sociology, said the minor gives students a chance to think about food systems holistically and to gain direct experience with organizations working now to change food systems. The minor requires students to complete a practicum with a designated community partner.

The current community partners include Groundswell, an Ithaca-based not-for-profit that offers training for beginning farmers; East NY Farms, a Brooklyn-based organization focused on food justice and sustainable agriculture; the Cornell Farmworker Program, which works to improve the lives of migrant farmworkers and their families; the Soils, Food and Healthy Communities project, which addresses issues of food security and nutrition in Malawi; and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County