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MOOC “Sustainable food systems: a Mediterranean perspective”

This is an announcement for a free, on-demand, on-line, course on sustainable food systems. It is an intriguing model for providing certain kinds of education about food (and other things, of course). SAFN readers may find it interesting to follow along. This could also provide a useful tool for student debates in classes you teach. Enroll in the course here.

Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective

Course Description

The Mediterranean region is one of the most biodiverse in the world, home to a complex and intricate patchwork of cultures, climates, and cuisines. Food systems in the region — represented worldwide by the “Mediterranean diet” — are equally complex, demanding analysis across the political, social, cultural, economic and nutritional spectrums from landscape to table.

The ability of Mediterranean agriculture to sustain its peoples — and the planet — is now threatened by several issues:

  • Unsustainable agriculture production and limited agricultural diversification;
  • Overexploitation of natural resources, including loss of soil fertility and agricultural biodiversity;
  • Water scarcity and poor water management;
  • Limited agricultural diversification;
  • Increasingly poor nutritional value of food products and diets;
  • Food loss and waste; and
  • Decline in food culture and food sovereignty, highlighting the struggle between modernity and tradition.

This course discusses the challenges and opportunities of the agricultural sector in the Mediterranean basin. It summarizes global-to-local challenges related to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); outlines the history and culture of agriculture and its main characteristics with a focus on the “Mediterranean diet”; explains agricultural data with a focus on rural development models and value creation; explores EU policy frameworks and international agreements related to food and agriculture in the Mediterranean; and highlights emerging opportunities linked to innovation and sustainability in the sector.

This course is for:

  • Students at the undergraduate or graduate level interested in the main challenges facing the Mediterranean region;
  • Current and future practitioners in the agriculture, food and beverage sectors who wish to gain useful insights about current and future trends and business opportunities; and
  • Policymakers and regional stakeholders who want to deepen their knowledge of agricultural policy, investment, and decisionmaking in the region and globally.

How do we produce more, better quality, and safer food while simultaneously achieving social and environmental goals? Join this course to find out.

Course Structure and Requirements

This course is offered on demand, which means that the content is available in its entirety with no closing date. Students may enroll at anytime, and may complete all content at any time suitable to their schedule. While on demand courses are not monitored by course staff or instructors, we encourage students to share their experiences, questions, and resources with one another using the discussion forum anyway.

Structure: Video lectures, readings, and quizzes

Estimated time commitment: 2 hours per module

Cost: Free

Requirements: An internet connection

Certificates: Students who successfully complete the course will receive a digital certificate of proficiency, signed by the course organizers. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the quizzes, all of which are multiple choice. Students who score 85% or higher will receive certificates of proficiency with distinction. Certificates will be distributed within 2 weeks of completing the course.

Credits: While this course is not credit granting, we encourage students to work with their own institutions to explore the option of granting credit for online coursework.


Syllabus

Prologue: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs

Module 1. The Mediterranean challenges around food and agriculture
1.1 Introduction to this MOOC (Prof. Alessio Cavicchi)
1.2 Mediterranean challenges and innovation in food systems (Prof. Angelo Riccaboni)
1.3 Theoretical framework, objectives and course outline (Prof. Alessio Cavicchi)
1.4 Contextualizing the SDGs for the Mediterranean region: what do the SDGs mean for the countries of the Mediterranean? (Prof. Phoebe Koundouri)

Module 2. History of agri-culture in Mediterranean basin and Mediterranean Diet (Prof. Ayman Farid Abou-Hadid)
2.1 The origin of agriculture
2.2 Civilisations
2.3 Middles ages and early modern
2.4 Modern agriculture
2.5 Agriculture and habits of local communities: the origin of the “Mediterranean diet”

Module 3. Poverty alleviation, economic and social rural development 
3.1 Economics of food systems
3.2 Rural development
3.3 Markets and supply chains
3.4 International trade
3.5 Development enhancing investments
3.6 Food governance

Module 4: Fisheries and Aquaculture 
4.1 Our Ocean: A Finite Resource
4.2 Dance of the plankton
4.3 Marine Food Chains
4.4 Fisheries Economics and Management
4.5 Aquaculture and Mariculture
4.6 Sustainable Management of Fisheries
4.7 Summing it up

Module 5. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward 
I. Water resources and Fisheries Management (Prof. Maite Aldaya)
5.1 Challenges
5.2 Theoretical chapter
5.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean

Module 6. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward
II. Sustainable farming systems under environmental and climatic constraints
6.1 Challenges (Prof. Riccardo Valentini)
6.1b Challenges at Mediterranean level
6.2 Theoretical chapter (Arbaoui Sarra)
6.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean (Arbaoui Sarra)

Module 7. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward 
III. Food value chain for regional and local development
7.1 Challenges of the Mediterranean food value chains (Prof. Angelo Riccaboni)
7.2 Theoretical chapter (Prof. Stefano Pascucci)
7.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean (Prof Stefano Pascucci)

Module 8. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward
IV. Reducing food waste and enhancing by-product innovations
8.1 Challenges (Prof Ali Abdelaziz)
8.2 Theoretical chapter (Prof Ali Abdelaziz)
8.3 Case studies in Egypt (Prof. Amr Helal)

Module 9. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean –  The way forward 
V. Nutrition and Education
9.1 Challenges (prof. Gabriele Riccardi)
9.2 Theoretical chapter (prof. Gabriele Riccardi)
9.3 Successful Case studies in North Africa and Middle East (Prof. Reema Tayyem)

Module 10. New professional profiles in a Mediterranean context (Dr. Sonia Massari – Gustolab International Food Systems and Sustainability)
10.1 Professional needs to face sustainability issues
10.2 Youth & food: new entrepreneurs in the Med food systems
10.3 Professional profiles in the agrifood sector
10.4 Professional profiles in the “sustainable tourism” sector: food as destination branding driver
10.5 The role of Higher Education Institutions: international cooperation, exchange and mobility
10.6 A job for the future: the “innovation broker”

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