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Food, Community, and Sustainability - Higher Ed Gets It Right

By Sharon Chen
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When it comes to issues of sustainability, food is increasingly taking center stage. College campuses across the country are turning to local sources for their dining halls, food waste is becoming more of an issue, and on-campus farms are more prevalent. One university is seeking to offer a new degree program that combines healthy eating, community psychology, and business. Metropolitan State University’s proposed program is a great example of interdisciplinary, hands-on learning: the university will partner with other area colleges, urban gardens, markets, and farms to provide students with a comprehensive skill set that will serve them well in the fields of health and nutrition, sustainable food and farming, and business and marketing.

As issues of food, food waste, food security, and sustainable agriculture become more of a climate change priority, we will need more programs like this. Preparing students to become smarter stewards of our food sources, and to prioritize sustainability in farming and agriculture, is a necessity when it comes to facing our climate change challenge. 

Metro State's new program brings food, community, sustainability together

Youssef Rddad | | November 26, 2015

Metropolitan State University students may soon learn how to sustainably grow food and promote health and nutrition as part of a new degree program.

The food, community and sustainability degree comes at a time when consumers are opting for local, sustainably produced food, and companies such as General Mills and Land O'Lakes are taking note of these demands.

The proposed program, which organizers hope to launch in fall 2016, aims to combine principals of healthy eating with biology, community psychology and business. Students should be prepared to find jobs in community gardens, nonprofit food banks, health and nutrition, and other food-related areas.

August Hoffman, a psychology professor at Metro State in St. Paul who is spearheading the program, said the school also will partner with Dakota County Community College, Hennepin Technical College and Inver Hills Community College to create pathways for students who want to earn a four-year degree.

Students who earn a 60- credit associate's degree from partnering colleges would be able to complete the remaining 60 credits at Metro State to complete their bachelor's degree.

"We're trying to make it a single-step process," Hoffman said.

Hoffman added that the program will also help students get experience through paid internships in St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood at Urban Roots and Urban Oasis, which provide healthy cooking classes and operate urban gardens in the city.

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