This program has been modified for fall 2020.

IHP Food Systems

Agriculture, Sustainability, and Justice

Understand the dynamics of local food systems in a global context, exploring agriculture, food accessibility, global markets, sustainability, and social change.

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Sep 14 ‎– Dec 22

Program Countries

United States, Ecuador

Program Base

United States (California and Georgia) and Ecuador

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment Icon

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon


Why Study Food Systems?

As global temperatures and populations rise, food availability and access become increasingly strained. Journey from northern California to Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, in the United States; to Ecuador, as you study how food production, distribution, and consumption are affected by climate change, global trade, historic inequalities, and a global pandemic. Learn about sustainable and regenerative farming practices, government programs, and innovative food safety and trade regulations from farmers, activists, and policy experts. You will also explore the University of Georgia’s precision agriculture labs and the role of agricultural extension services and land grant universities in shaping our food system. You’ll get your hands dirty learning regenerative farming techniques and digging deeper into the complexities of modern industrial farming in California. Your group will then visit some of Ecuador’s major farming hubs with agro-export models, and network with professionals at United Nations institutions including the Food and Agriculture Organization. The program explores gastronomy as a key driver of economic growth and the importance of celebrating food, while uncovering solutions that offer the most promise for sustainable food futures at local, national, and global levels.


  • Explore the diversity of Ecuador’s agricultural centers from the Andes to the Cloud Forest.
  • Witness agroecological farming practices amid increasing climate uncertainty on farms in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Practice regenerative farming on a diversified farm in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • Investigate the history and legacy of plantation agriculture in the U.S. economy.



Program Sites

United States: Plumas County, California

(~3 weeks)

Plumas County is a case study in rural food systems with high rates of food insecurity, related health implications, and unemployment and underemployment. Local residents have launched several initiatives to increase access to local food and practice regenerative agriculture. A local nonprofit, Lost Sierra Food Project, will host the program in collaboration with the local community college’s Ecological Farming Certificate program. Field trips will allow students to engage with residents who are running small-scale family farms, homesteading, and creating self-sustaining, off-grid living.

United States: Atlanta, Athens, and South Georgia

(~3 weeks)

The largest city in the Southeast, Atlanta is a center of civil rights activism and Southern hospitality. Visit the University of Georgia in Athens and agricultural heartlands in southwest and coastal Georgia to gain a comprehensive view of U.S. agriculture. This includes learning long-standing and innovative crop and livestock production techniques, interrogating diverse labor conditions, and collaborating on food justice initiatives with activists cultivating progressive foodways. Study the New South’s social and environmental spaces, using foodways to understand U.S. political and economic histories.

Ecuador: Quito, Nanegalito, and Mashpi

(~7 weeks)

One of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Ecuador is home to three distinct ecological zones: the Pacific coast, the Andes Highlands, and the Amazon rainforest. Explore Quito’s urban agriculture program, born in response to increasing food insecurity in the poorest areas of the city. Trek south through the stunning Andes, passing by Machachi, Lasso, and Riobamba, to learn from farmers and local communities about varied models of agricultural production and how food affects their livelihoods.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.



Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • The origins of agriculture and the development of contemporary global food systems.
  • Conventional agricultural production and the agro-export model from Ecuador to the world’s consumers.
  • Alternative visions of food models, activism, and social change.
  • National and indigenous perspectives on food, politics, and power.
  • Sustainable agricultural and regenerative farming.

People, Identity, and Food

People, Identity, and Food – syllabus coming soon
(ANTH3010 / 4 credits)

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

Getting from Field to Fork – Syllabus
(ECON3010 / 4 credits)

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

Agriculture, Ecology, and Sustainable Futures – syllabus coming soon
(ENVI3010 / 4 credits)

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

Politics, Ethics, and Food Security – Syllabus
(POLI3010 / 4 credits)

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.

Homestays / Housing


Students accommodations include a mix of hostels, guesthouses, small hotels/dorms and homestays.


Career Paths

Relevant career paths include:

  • Agriculture and food production

  • Nonprofit management

  • Government

  • International development

  • Sustainability and climate change

Faculty & Staff

IHP Food Systems: Agriculture, Sustainability, and Justice

The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.

Joseph Lanning, PhD
Program Director
Lowery Parker, PhD
Traveling Faculty, Launch Coordinator, USA
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS
Country Coordinator, Ecuador
Jessie Mazar, MS
California Coordinator
Peter Seilheimer, MA
Program Manager

Discover the Possibilities


    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown

    Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!

    Learn More
  • Study Abroad with SIT's International Honors Programs (IHP)

    Take a sneak speak into our IHP Food Systems program with Academic Director Joe Lanning as he discusses examining the dynamics of local food systems in a global context in four unique countries.