News - September 6, 2018

New student challenge on food system transitions

Albert Sikkema

WUR and four other agricultural universities want to organize a ‘student challenge’ on food system transitions. The universities of this ‘A5’ coalition also want to update their education.

Students foodathon during the SDG-conferention, ©Guy Ackermans

Wageningen University, UC Davis, Cornell University, the University of Sao Paulo and the Chinese Agricultural University have been holding talks about collaboration for a year. At the Towards Zero Hunger SDG conference on 30 and 31 August, they made specific arrangements about how they want to tackle global food production problems together through their education and research. A central theme is the transition of food systems towards the production of healthy, affordable food without environmental pollution, waste, and impact on the climate.

Besides the student challenge, the five universities are thinking in terms of distance education on which international teams collaborate, getting together a few times a year, and in terms of MOOCs. The joint project education, with teachers in the role of coach, could also lead to teacher exchanges between the universities, thinks Tiny van Boekel, who represented WUR in the discussions.

A5 – A stands for agrifood – also wants to develop course material about food system transitions for professionals in the field. The universities are going to start by looking at each other’s course material, and then agree on who will develop which additional courses. Finally, A5 is going to see if the members can develop a minor track on food transitions for other universities.