IHP Food Systems

Agriculture, Sustainability & 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



Feb 6 ‎– May 18

Program Countries

Uganda, Ecuador

Program Base

Ecuador, Uganda

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment Icon

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon


Why Study Food Systems?

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, like COVID-19, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

As global temperatures and populations rise, food availability and access become increasingly strained. Journey from Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, in the United States, to Ecuador, Malawi, and Italy, as you study how food production, distribution, and consumption are affected by climate change, global trade, and historic inequalities. Learn about alternative farming practices, government programs, and innovative food safety and trade regulations from farmers, activists, and policy experts. See the University of Georgia’s precision agriculture lab in Tifton, and compare it to small, organic, cooperative farms in Italy. Live with a farming family in Malawi, tour major farming hubs of Ecuador, and network with United Nations institutions in Rome, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Committee on World Food Security, and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development. Across continents, explore 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 a Day in the Life of an IHP student!


  • Explore the diversity of Ecuador’s agricultural centers from the Amazon to the Andes.
  • Experience Italy’s culinary traditions, artisanal methods, and family farming.
  • Witness agroecological farming practices amid increasing climate uncertainty on smallholder farms in Malawi.
  • Investigate the history and legacy of plantation agriculture in the US South.



Program Sites

United States: Atlanta, Athens and Southwest Georgia

(2 weeks)

Study the history of plantation agriculture in a global context, and its transformation into today’s industrial agricultural complex, starting in Atlanta, also the historic center of civil rights activism. Travel on to Athens and tour a top-ranked school of agriculture to understand innovative breeding and growing techniques. Then, head deep into the nation’s agricultural heartland, visiting sixth-generation crop and livestock farmers and community farms long committed to social and environmental justice.


(5 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 as a 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.


(4 weeks)

Explore a range of perspectives on food security from farmers to local leaders in Lilongwe, comparing efforts to increase yields through agricultural subsidies with improvements to food sovereignty and nutritional security via alternatives such as permaculture. Journey south to rural communities near Ntcheu and live among smallholder farming families while studying the effects of cultural traditions, climate change, drought, ecology, migration, and international aid regimes on agricultural histories and futures.


(4 weeks)

In Turin and the Piedmont region, you’ll examine the dynamics of the food supply and distribution chain in all its forms, with specific attention to reducing food waste, and the redistribution of goods in favor of vulnerable populations. You will also meet with members from the global Slow Food movement and the University of Gastronomic Sciences. In Rome, you’ll hear from policy experts at multiple United Nations institutions around the city, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Committee on World Food Security, Codex Alimentarius Commission, and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development, and learn how international aid and trade regimes impact food security struggles in the global south and north.

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

  • How to feed and nourish 9 billion people by 2050
  • Protecting the agricultural livelihoods of nearly 1 billion people
  • Biodiversity, genetically modified crops, land rights, and conflict
  • Food security challenges and opportunities amid changing conditions
  • Industrialization, technological innovation, and rapid urbanization
  • How communities plan their food sustainability futures

People, Identity, and Food

People, Identity, and Food – syllabus
(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
(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

Homestays / Housing

Live with a host family for between two and five weeks at each program site, with the exception of the first location. Homestays are your primary form of accommodation on the program; other accommodations can include guest houses, hostels, dormitories, and/or small hotels.

Family structures will vary. For example, a host family may include a single mother of two small children, or a large extended family with many people coming and going. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you would expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.

In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs, with placements made to best accommodate health concerns, including allergies or dietary needs. Information about homestay families will only be available upon arriving in each country.

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 & 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
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS
Country Coordinator, Ecuador
Geoffrey Mlongoti
Country Coordinator, Malawi
Jessie Mazar, MS
California Coordinator
Lowery Parker, PhD
Traveling Faculty, Launch Coordinator, USA
Paola Baravalle, MPhil
Country Coordinator, Italy
Peter Seilheimer, MA
Program Manager
Jennifer Wallace, PhD
Traveling Faculty
Kasey Armstrong, MA
Trustees’ Fellow
Maren Haas, MA
Trustees’ Fellow

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.

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    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.