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Food System Resilience to Disasters: COVID-19, Climate Change, and Beyond

4th Term
Environmental Health and Engineering
Academic Year
2020 - 2021
Instruction Method
Asynchronous Online with Some Synchronous Online
Auditors Allowed
Yes, with instructor consent
Available to Undergraduate
Grading Restriction
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor(s)
Contact Name
Frequency Schedule
Every Year
COVID-19 has widened already-deep cracks in the food system, from fragile supply chains to inadequate food worker protections to high and inequitable food insecurity rates. What happened, and why? What should be done about it?
Provides an overview of the ways food systems have been impacted by COVID-19, actions to protect and improve food security, and the implications for public health. Engages students with guest speakers working at the cutting edge of food+COVID policy, practice and research, from community-based to global levels of action. Explores concepts of food systems, food system resilience, disaster management, and equity. Discusses how systemic factors (including poverty, racism and unsustainable food systems), affect outcomes, with application to climate change and other disasters. Reviews the strengths and limitations of responses in policy, practice, and research, primarily in the U.S. but also internationally. Challenges students to explore diverse perspectives and constraints; and to envision and design further responses addressing short-term emergency needs, adaptation of systems, and longer-term, deep, systemic change.
Learning Objectives
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain the concept of food system resilience and how it compares/contrasts with food system sustainability
  2. Describe at least 5 ways COVID-19 affects food systems
  3. Critique at least 3 food-related responses to COVID-19, including identifying unidentified negative consequences
  4. Identify at least 3 interventions to address food-related consequences of COVID-19 aligned with goals of making long-term improvements in food systems and social systems
  5. Identify at least 3 similarities and 3 differences between COVID-19 and other potential disasters in terms of potential food system impacts and appropriate responses
  6. Discuss how politics and systemic factors (such as racism, immigration, poverty, gender roles, policy, media, food access, nutrition, food supply chains, food animal production, etc.) affect outcomes
  7. Design an approach to measuring or addressing food system impact or recovery from COVID-19 or another disaster
Methods of Assessment
This course is evaluated as follows:
  • 39% Reflection
  • 36% Group Project(s)
  • 25% Participation