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What You Will Learn

The MS in Food Systems & Society is a 48 quarter credit graduate degree program. You will take a mix of foundation and thesis courses, attend four program intensives sessions and complete a  masters thesis. Cohorts begin in fall term and move through the degree requirements together; normal time to complete the degree is two years.

Courses will be rigorous and engaging, covering a broad range of content and providing opportunity for students to delve deeper into areas of interest. Students will use inquiry, experience and reflection to critically engage individually and with peers in the fundamental challenges and approaches to developing more equitable and sustainable food systems.

Courses and outcomes

Your foundation courses will focus on areas such as:

  • Food system equity in discourse and practice
  • Food policy and politics
  • Critical inquiry and research
  • Food, culture and social change
  • Race, class, gender and labor in the food system

Program graduates will:

  • Identify and analyze societal factors in and perspectives on food system equity. 
  • Expand critical thinking, collaboration, and synthesis skills for engaging social change.
  • Develop and communicate knowledge about foods system equity and social change. 

There is an important interplay between practical action and long-term, systemic change, so your thesis will be problem-focused and relevant to challenges prominent in the contemporary food system.

A focus on the elements of social change

The program focuses on three intersecting aspects of social change: vision, assessment and strategy:

  • You'll study different visions and perspectives on the food system through inquiry, experience and reflection. You'll engage with big questions about the food system. By documenting and analyzing assumptions and practices, we'll see how food system conditions are perceived, portrayed and understood.
  • You'll assess conditions in the food system and analyze how they came to be. You'll challenge yourself to determine what food system changes are desirable and possible and under what circumstances. Understanding how problems developed can help us discover possibilities and invent strategies for change.
  • Through studying strategies and efforts to create change in the food system and through your own experience in internships, jobs and practica, you'll assess how to most usefully intervene and engage in change efforts. In your capstone project, you'll establish and evaluate criteria for a better food system, taking it from the abstract and general to the concrete and particular. With your faculty and fellow students, you'll continuously reflect on ways to improve our food systems.

For more information about the MS in Food Systems and Society program, contact our program coordinator, Emily Burruel, at

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Kristy Athens to Present at National Conference

Kristy Athens, food systems & society student, will present her thesis at the joint annual meeting and conference of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society and Association for the Study of Food and Society in June 2015.


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July 25, 2015

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