IHP: Rethinking Food Security: Agriculture, People, and Politics

IHP: Rethinking Food Security: Agriculture, People, and Politics

Study how the dynamics of food production, distribution, and provisioning are affected by population growth, rapid urbanization, and globalization, and which responses offer the most promise for sustainable food futures at local, national, and global levels.

IndiaExamine pressing questions around global food security in four contrasting countries. Consider how to meet food availability demands when approximately 870 million people per year—more than 12 percent of the global population—suffer from chronic undernourishment. By 2050, it is estimated that the world needs to double its net food availability to feed a projected population of nine billion people. During this comparative program you will analyze local, national, and global food systems—and the very direct impact of food on our daily lives—to develop a deeper understanding of one of the most significant challenges of our time. By examining the implications of technological advances, changing geo-political landscapes, and climate change on food security equations, you will identify strategies to ensure healthy and prosperous livelihoods in a rapidly changing world.

Key Questions:

  • How will we feed and nourish nine billion people by 2050 and do so while sustaining the agricultural livelihoods of nearly one billion people?
  • How will we conserve our natural environments and the green infrastructure we rely on and empower local communities to determine their own food sustainability futures?
  • How will we confront questions about biodiversity and genetically modified crops, land rights and corruption, environmental degradation and conflict, and natural disasters and resilience?
  • How do global factors like industrialization, changing agricultural conditions, technological innovation, and rapid urbanization factor into food security challenges and opportunities?
  • How have thought leaders, including Alice Waters and Vandana Shiva, and social movements such as the slow food and local farming movements, had an impact on food policy and futures in the global north and south?

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

United States: San Francisco Bay Area, California
(2 weeks)

The program begins in the San Francisco Bay Area—home to a food system connected to some of the United States’ richest farmland—where you will start to frame issues around agriculture, ecology, and sustainable futures, and learn differences between industrial, local, organic, and urban agriculture. Examine policy and regulatory frameworks and look into the economics of food, distribution chains, and markets while meeting at organizations such as Food First, the Berkeley Food Institute, the Oakland Food Policy Council, Roots of Change, the Chez Panisse Foundation, The Trust for Public Land, the Center for Ecoliteracy, the AG Innovation Network, the Berkeley Bowl, the People’s Grocery, and other local institutions and markets. Participate in exchanges on food sustainability with activists, professors, and well-known innovators including IHP alumni involved with food issues. 

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam, Arusha
(4 weeks)

Arrive in Dar es Salaam and immediately dive into Tanzanian policy structure and food regimes in meetings with leaders at the Tanzanian Investment Centre and Tanzanian Food and Nutrition Centre. Learn about migration and urbanization in a country context, the tug of war between farming cultures, and the effects of drought, climate change, and international aid regimes. Explore the historical relationships of coastal communities with Indian Ocean fishing and trade routes based on monsoon winds.

Travel north to Arusha to spend time among the Maasai, learning about traditional cattle herding cultures and investigating nutrition in indigenous communities. Travel to regional landmarks like the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where you’ll continue to explore issues of environmental conservation, ecotourism, and sustainable agricultural livelihoods.

Spend your last week in the central Tanzanian city of Iringa, developing insight into foreign land, water, and agricultural investment, as well as examining land-tenure, displacement, and rights of local communities. See firsthand the prospects of multi-stakeholder agriculture development initiatives such as the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, and the implications of massive infrastructure investments such as in the Central Corridor, connecting landlocked nations with a maritime seaport. Meet with officials from regionally based international agencies and organizations to discuss regional food security, including the World Agroforestry Center, International Livestock Research Institute, and Heifer International.

India: Gujarat
(5 weeks)

Begin your studies in Ahmedabad by interacting with government officials and developing a framework of food security schemes in Gujarat State. Focus specifically on food procurement and distribution policy to combat extreme urban poverty and analyze the implications of class, caste, and social equity on food policy. Travel to rural Gujarat to embark on visits to indigenous farming communities and explore regional diversity in cultural and religious conceptions of the environment. Discover how land rights and development-induced displacement of rural economies are affecting marginalized peoples and communities. In coastal Gujarat, revisit Indian Ocean fishery traditions in a region with deep historic ties to East Africa and examine the value chains of staple food products such as salt and sugar. In central Gujarat, focus on the organizational structure of dairy cooperatives and the growth of capital and technology intensive agricultural economies related to food processing industries. Learn about Indian social movements and advocacy regarding food security, disaster, recovery, and resilience, among other urgent issues affecting subsistence and sustainability in India.

Italy: Rome, Piedmont/Turin
(4 weeks)

Start in Rome, examining the metropolitan food system of Italy’s largest city and discovering the country’s highly evolved food regionalism, food histories, and resilient food cooperatives. Study the Italian and European Union’s complex and innovative food safety, identity, and trade regulation systems and their roles in ensuring long-term health and protecting local livelihoods, cultural traditions, and landscapes. Finally, have a chance to hear firsthand from policy experts at multiple United Nations institutions around the city how international aid and trade regimes have an impact on struggles for food security in the global south and in the north. Visits will include the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Committee on World Food Security, Codex Alimentarius International Food Standards, and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development.

Travel north to the Piedmont region, where you’ll meet with the global Slow Food movement, visit the University of Gastronomic Sciences, and experience and taste the UNESCO-recognized World Heritage agricultural landscape of the Langhe area. Learn the importance of celebrating food—from global food fairs to village food festivals, and from regional urban markets to rural agricultural tourism. Expand your food knowledge in a region steeped in multiple culinary traditions and cultures, including world-renowned culinary legacies, while learning about traditional family farming, artisanal production, and gastronomy as a driver of regional economic growth. 

Access virtual library guide.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

People, Identity, and Food – syllabus
(ANTH3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
This course will help you to understand how access to food, eating habits, choices, and the pleasures and processes of food consumption often reveal distinctions of age, gender, status, class, occupation, ethnicity, and religion—within and among cultures. Explore the role food plays in people’s lives, including and in addition to nutrition, and how urbanization and globalization are changing relationships between people, their environments, production and distribution chains, and therefore relationships with food itself. Identity how development, food demand, and distribution systems shape each other, and learn about how access to food, along with strategies for health and nutrition, are culturally determined.
Getting from Field to Fork – syllabus
(ECON3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
This course examines the most effective economic development strategies for increasing food security among the most vulnerable food producers and consumers, how to increase efficiencies and reduce waste in existing processing and distribution chains to ensure more equitable access, and how to develop sustainable food systems for rapidly growing urban populations. Explore how international trade and regulatory frameworks affect food production and distribution chains, analyzing how these frameworks can contribute to global food security, as well as how income inequality—at local, national and global scales—affect nutrition and health, and what strategies can be most effective in reducing disparities. This course allows you to investigate the role migration plays in food production and consumption in diverse communities, and how access to information (including digital technology) can improve efficiency of both food production and distribution systems.
Agriculture, Ecology, and Sustainable Futures – syllabus
(ENVI3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
This course analyzes how to reach food security objectives while taking into account local and global environmental imperatives and realities. Explore the prospects of currently prevailing agricultural models and what solutions they offer, as well as alternative models—including ecologically integrated methods and scales. There is emphasis on what roles science, technology, and innovation will play in creating a more food secure world, and how global climate change affects and will continue to affect local environments—creating new threats, weaknesses, and opportunities for shifting priorities. Look into possible systems and tools to empower local food producers to promote productivity and ecological health, and examine how urban agriculture and other innovations can contribute to local food security in our rapidly urbanizing world.
Politics, Ethics, and Food Security – syllabus
(POLI3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
This course explores questions related to land rights, income distribution and inequality, food distribution systems, government regulation, the role of international organizations, and policy crafting as they relate to food and food security. More specifically, learn how to define food security at local, national and global scales, and how different conceptions determine varied approaches. You will also discuss how land rights and livelihoods can be balanced with rising global pressures around food security, and how income distribution and inequality affect hunger, food production, and development. The course deeply examines how governments, NGOs, research institutes, and UN bodies, among others, can help develop global solutions to ensure food accessibility for urban and rural communities. These complex topics will help you build a rich understanding of food security issues in an increasingly globalized and urbanized world.

The program’s curriculum will be delivered through a combination of traveling faculty who are disciplinary experts and local in-country faculty/staff who are issue experts and locally based guides/facilitators.

Joe LanningJoseph Lanning, PhD, Program Director

Joe is an economic and agricultural anthropologist who has worked in higher education as both an educator and administrator while conducting research on agricultural decision making and food security. He holds a BA in anthropology, with a focus on gender studies, and an MA in global history from the University of Rochester and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Georgia. Joe recently defended his dissertation in anthropology at the University of Georgia. Much of his work focuses on the agricultural livelihoods of rural Malawians as they navigate climatic, environmental, and economic risk and uncertainty in their efforts to achieve food security. Joe is an alum (fall ’98) of SIT’s semester abroad program in Kenya. His time as an SIT student inspired him to volunteer with the US Peace Corps and work in the areas of public health, irrigation, and alternative agriculture. His research and teaching has since led him to work and travel through much of southern Africa, and, in addition to directing the Rethinking Food Security program, he is currently a managing partner for a small-scale permaculture demonstration farm in Malawi. Joe has more than a decade’s experience teaching and managing anthropology research methods field schools in Malawi and Samoa for undergraduate, high school, medical, and graduate students.

Cybelle BarthalemessCyBelle Barthelmess, MA, Program Manager

CyBelle Barthelmess, a former Trustees’ Fellow for IHP’s Cities in the 21st Century program, has returned to the IHP family in the role of program manager. She holds a master’s degree in international education from SIT Graduate Institute and a bachelor’s degree in communications and urban youth work from Gordon College. For the last decade, Belle has worked in the field of higher education across the globe, empowering undergraduates through their development of identity, intellect, and intercultural competence. Along with her role as program manager, Belle is an assistant faculty member within the Global Studies Department, at Azusa Pacific University, in Los Angeles, CA. Whether in the highlands of Fiji, the “bush” of Africa, or an urban classroom in LA, Belle has taught from the pedagogy of experiential learning, encouraging students to identify their own culture, unique perspective, and story and to expand their cognitive complexity through conceptualizing the world through the lens of people around the world. She resonates sincerely with the vision and mission of IHP and is excited to start this new season.

SilvaAlyshia Silva, Launch Coordinator

Alyshia Silva’s work centers on issues of access and equity. She first experienced the effects of food injustice and its complex ties to race, class, and gender as a first-generation Latina growing up in her hometown of Los Angeles, California. These experiences pushed her to pursue her degree in environmental analysis and anthropology to study how communities of color are systematically disenfranchised through urban and environmental planning and policy. She then furthered her career in issues of access as assistant director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Southern California and then at Tufts University.

Alyshia now returns to her passion of food justice and food sovereignty with the Institute for Food and Development Policy, better known as Food First. The original food policy think tank, Food First focuses on dismantling forms of oppression in the food system through research, education, and action.      

Grete Benjaminsen, PhD Candidate, Co-Country Coordinator, Tanzania

Grete Benjaminsen has a broad academic background studying and researching processes of development and management of natural resources in Africa. She has an MSc in management of natural resources and sustainable agriculture and is now pursuing a PhD in development studies—both from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Between MSc and PhD studies, Grete worked 12 years as a project manager for various development NGOs, working in sub-Saharan Africa. With over twenty years of traveling and at times living in Tanzania, she has comprehensive knowledge about Tanzanian society and culture, including the Kiswahili language. She has also taught basic Kiswahili and qualitative research methods at the university level in Norway. 

Grete’s main academic interest lies in understanding how interventions introduced from outside are received by local communities as “targets” of these interventions asking who are the winners and losers of these interventions, whose voices are heard, and whose knowledge counts in their implementation. Such interventions include development/environmental projects of various kinds, including larger-scale investments in agriculture, which will be explored as part of the IHP program in Tanzania. Grete is excited to join IHP and looks forward to welcoming the students to Tanzania.

RichardGladys Richard, Co-Country Coordinator, Tanzania

Having engaged in women empowerment initiatives, such as training women between the ages of 13 and 23 on leadership, resilience, and entrepreneurship in a minority community on Maasai land, Gladys is passionate and enthusiastic about empowering women in vulnerable and minority communities across Tanzania. She is the founder and executive director of Male Advocacy for Gender Equality (MAFGE), a nongovernmental organization registered in the United Republic of Tanzania, which seeks to empower women through directly working with men to empower women in their communities.

Gladys advocates and conducts specialized research on the inclusion of men in gender activism and women’s empowerment affecting communal and national economies and livelihoods in indigenous communities, environmental conservation, and extractive industries. Engaging in human rights work, Gladys has worked with the East African Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, assessing international law practice and effects in national laws and implementation of the courts decisions. She also works as a public interest environmental lawyer and indigenous peoples’ rights activist at ALAPA (Association for Law and Advocacy for Pastoralists). Gladys is excited to join the IHP family.

Sonal Mehta, Country Coordinator, India

Sonal Mehta has a master’s degree in physics and a postgraduate diploma in space sciences. For the last three decades she has worked as human rights activist, an education professional, and a social organization builder. She is currently director of Eklavya Foundation, a social development and human rights organization working for indigenous and marginalized communities. She has played a key role in founding cooperatives of indigenous and urban poor women. She has worked on several large-scale rehabilitation and social housing programs in the wake of major disasters in India. She is currently working on sustainable development alternatives for an indigenous community of forest dwellers and bamboo workers in the state of Gujarat in western India. She is also a visiting faculty for humanities courses at CEPT University in Ahmedabad as well as visiting faculty for development course at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Gujarat. In the past, she has worked on science education, policy-making, and teachers’ education programs. She has traveled extensively in India, Canada, Europe, and Asia. She has participated in and coordinated the World Social Forum process at regional, national, and international levels. She is also actively involved with the International Women’s Movement of rank-and-file women.   

Paola Baravalle, PhD, Country Coordinator, Italy

Dr. Paola Baravalle is the deputy director of the Conservatory of Mediterranean Food in Turin, a nonprofit association that works in the field of research and promotion of local products, markets, culinary heritage, nutrition education programs, tourism, and cultural development of Mediterranean countries. A psychologist who holds an MPhil with the UNICRI, Paola has worked for more than 14 years as a project and financial manager in cross-border cooperation projects. She has directed several education projects on the environment, food heritage, and enhancement of land resources.

Paola was the head of the involvement, animation, and facilitation process for the Monviso area’s recognition at the World Network of the Biosphere Reserves in UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB). Afterwards, she co-developed the drafting of the dossier for the recognition of the reserve at the transboundary level. She is responsible for planning events related to food and the enhancement of high quality products, with special attention to mountain areas. In 2015, she actively participated in the working groups, promoted by the city of Turin and the University of Turin, for the definition of a strategic atlas on food. She is a European projects planner accredited in Brussels.

Katherine BradleyKatharine Bradley, PhD, Traveling Faculty

Katharine is trained in human geography, and her work focuses on food systems, social justice, political ecology, and activist scholarship. She is an alumna of SIT’s program in Bolivia and has a BA in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh and an MS in community development and a PhD in geography from the University of California, Davis. At UC Davis, she was part of the teaching team for Food Systems, a core social science course in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major. Through this work, she grew excited about interdisciplinary learning aimed at cultivating empathy, self-awareness, and critical structural analyses of social and environmental issues related to global food webs. Katie also contributed to Food Dignity, a USDA-funded action research project about community-based and scholarly efforts to build just and sustainable local food systems. Her dissertation examined collaborative research dynamics in the food justice movement, urban farmer field schools in the East Bay, and local government support for urban agriculture. Her scholarship has been published in Antipode, Local Environment, and Sociologia Ruralis

Wangũi Kamonji, Trustees’ Fellow

Wangũi was inspired to pursue a career in interdisciplinary, cross-cultural teaching and learning after completing and IHP program in 2012. She graduated with a BA in environmental studies and urban studies from Wellesley College, after which she won a yearlong travel and service fellowship that allowed her to travel to Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, and Tanzania conducting research and working alongside local CBOs on food security, (environmental) literacy, and livelihood improvement programs. She currently manages communications for a regional heritage nonprofit and a waste recycling and composting business in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is from. She also conducts independent research on sustainability issues, contributes to various blogs and online journals, and teaches a regular African dance class.

Homestays will be the primary accommodation on the program; you will live with a family between two to four weeks in all locations except the US.

Generally each home will accommodate two students, although in rare cases some families may host more than two students. These stays will vary in location and typology based on local conditions, and the diversity of the sampling will enrich the overall group experience.

During some excursions or transfers, homestays may not be logistically feasible or desirable; alternative accommodations will be arranged in guest houses, hostels, small hotels or other appropriate facilities.

Program Dates: Fall 2016

Program Arrival Date:  Aug 21, 2016

Program Departure Date:    Dec 12, 2016

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Apr 1, 2016

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $17,500

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Content and logistics for field programs in San Francisco, Tanzania, India, and Italy
  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in the following courses:
    • People, Identity, and Food
    • Getting from Field to Fork
    • Agriculture, Ecology, and Sustainable Futures
    • Politics, Ethics, and Food Security
  • Guest lectures and panel discussions
  • Site visit hosts and facilitators
  • Transportation to classroom spaces and daily program activities
  • All educational excursions to locations, including all related travel costs
  • Traveler’s health insurance throughout the entire program period 
  • Instructional materials
  • Other direct program costs

Note: Vacation costs are not covered by program fees; students are responsible for this.

Airfare: $4,500

  •  Group airfare during the program
  • Airfare includes a flight back to a city in the US at the conclusion of the program.

Room & Board: $4,500

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in all four countries, urban and rural stays, all excursions, and the final retreat. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay. 
  • All homestays in Tanzania, India, and Italy
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.  

Estimated Additional Costs:

Domestic Airfare to Program Launch Site

Domestic airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $ 275

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 150

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


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