January 14, 2015

CLF’s Free Online Food Systems Course Gets an Update

Meg Burke

Meg Burke

Sr. Academic Program Coordinator

Center for a Livable Future

pollinator-courseraThe new year has arrived with opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about food systems. This winter, Coursera has at least five free, online classes on food-system topics, including the tried-and-true CLF course co-taught by Bob Lawrence and Keeve Nachman. “An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health” is being offered for the third year, and this year’s lineup includes some extra goodies.

This time around we’ll offer new lectures by CLF faculty Jillian Fry and Roni Neff. Jillian’s lecture focuses on food security from the perspective of our production and consumption of seafood locally as well as globally. Roni addresses the 2014 farm bill as well as food system sustainability and resilience. The six-week course opens on January 20, and almost 7,000 6,000 students from all over the world are enrolled so far.

A student favorite for the past two years, this year’s course will also include faculty videos several times throughout the session. In these videos, Bob and Keeve respond to questions and comments that have turned up in the discussion forum and are voted on by students as the most important questions.

Here’s a bit about the class: “In this course, we will provide a brief introduction to the U.S. food system and how food production practices and what we choose to eat impacts the world in which we live. Through several case studies, we will discuss some key historical and political factors that have helped shape the current food system and consider alternative approaches from farm to fork.”

Also new this year from Coursera is a “signature track” option, an identity verification system that offers a Verified Certificate proving completion of coursework.

Johns Hopkins University has partnered with Coursera since early 2012, with our food systems course as one of the original eight flagship Hopkins courses. Throughout the past three years the partnership has grown to a total of 38 courses offered by JHU, including the popular Data Science specialization offered by the JHSPH’s Department of Biostatistics. In the future, CLF is considering the possibility of a short series of courses that could more closely resemble the four courses CLF faculty teach at the school.

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