Community Food Systems



Description: This course examines the movement of food from seed to table. Participants in the course explore local and global food systems, and specific food related issues that impact health of communities. Among the topics we’ll cover are: examining the economic and political decisions that frame our food chain, direct marketing, commercial agriculture, processing, food justice, hunger, health, food security, peak oil, school food systems and school gardens, Community Supported Agriculture, farmers’ markets, small scale farming and homesteading.  At the center of this course is the examination of the opportunities and challenges required in making community food projects that create real lasting systems change.

Instructor: Catherine Sands

Instructors email:


  • To understand where our food comes from in the global market place.  
  • To learn of local and community-based alternatives to the global food system.
  • To become fluent in discussing food systems and food justice.
  • To become confident that we can make changes in our own lives and our community to enhance food access for all.

Class Format: This course is organized into 5 modules, covering the challenges to our troubled global and regional food systems, and many of the exciting innovative examples of communities working to create systems change. This is a condensed course; expect to do a lot of reading, viewing films, dialoguing on line, and independent research and writing. Also expect to look ahead each week, as you’ll need to plan to set up some of your projects and films ahead of time.

  • Module 1-   Systems, sustainability, corn
  • Module 2-   Industrial food system labor and production
  • Module 3-   Race, hunger, access and the food system
  • Module 4 –  School food systems and beyond
  • Module 5 –  Creating meaningful systems change

CLASS SIZE:  Limited to 15.

Technology: According to UMass Online, in order to take this course you must:

  • have access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows)
  • be familiar with basic computer skills
  • be connected to the internet
  • have an e-mail program and account
  • have at least a 56 kbps modem
  • have a Java capable browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer)

NOTE: If you have any problems with technology, please contact the UMass Online Tech Support office for help.


This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science degree as well as the Online B.S. degree.  Online classes cost $482/credit.

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