Sustainable Food Security: The Value of Systems Thinking

Learn how to apply systems thinking to improve the environmental sustainability of food production systems in this course. This free online course is offered as a MOOC, and is part of the XSeries Sustainable Food Security.

About this course

Understanding and working with the complexity of sustainable food production systems requires training in different disciplines and an approach that can address this complexity at the system level. This environmental studies course enables participants to apply the principles of a systems approach to food production systems with a focus on environmental sustainability. We will analyze production systems at both ends of the spectrum: highly productive systems with relatively high inputs and emissions to the environment, and low productive systems with low input use and depletion of soil fertility. Crop-livestock interaction is a focal point.

The course includes:

  • Introduction to the complexity of food production systems
  • Introduction to systems thinking
  • Analysis and comparison of the productivity of food production systems and the environmental issues
  • The assessment of environmental sustainability using indicators (this last topic allows students to integrate topics of previous modules)

Course details

Learning mode
6 weeks
Time investment
8-10 hours per week
Starting date
Registration date
Open for enrolment

What you’ll learn

  • Understand the complexity and diversity of food production systems;
  • Use a systems approach in the context of food production systems;
  • Understand the principles of system analysis and how it can be applied in the context of food production systems;
  • Understand evaluation methods for environmental impact of food production systems in different agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts and at different levels (e.g. farm, regional and global);
  • Evaluate strong and weak points of different food production systems in terms of environmental sustainability.

Course partners

Course outline

This course is part of the XSeries programme Food Security and Sustainability, which learns you more about how we can feed the world with its growing population and wealth in a sustainable way. The other MOOCs in this XSeries are Sustainable Food Security: Crop Production and Sustainable Food Security: Food Access.