IHP Food Systems

Agriculture, Sustainability & Justice

Understand the dynamics of the global food system local contexts, exploring agriculture, food justice, global markets and exchange, sustainability, and social change.

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Jan 23 – May 8

Program Countries

Ecuador, South Africa, Spain

Program Base

Ecuador, Spain, South Africa

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 to Ecuador, Spain, and South Africa as you study how food production, distribution, and consumption are affected by climate change, global trade, and historic inequalities. Learn from farmers, activists, and policy experts about alternative farming practices, government and non-government interventions, and innovative food safety and trade regulations. Dive deep into the resilience of the Ecuadorian food system as global pressures drive local and indigenous innovation. Examine the complexity and disparity when tradition meets vanguard cuisine in Spain. Explore South Africa’s struggles for food sovereignty as local populations reckon with the past and present racial and socioeconomic inequalities. Across continents, explore gastronomy as a driver of economic growth and economic equality and the importance of celebrating food, while uncovering local, national, and global solutions that offer the most promise for sustainable food futures.

Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!

Photos on this page may depict program sites from previous semesters. Please view the Program Sites section of this page to see where this program will travel in spring 2022.


  • Explore the diversity of Ecuador’s agricultural centers from the Amazon to the Andes.
  • Experience Spain’s culinary traditions, artisanal methods, and family farming.
  • Witness agroecological farming practices amid increasing climate uncertainty on industrial and smallholder farms in South Africa.



Program Sites

Ecuador: Quito, Nanegalito, and Mashpi

(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 in response to increasing food insecurity in the poorest areas of the city. Meet activists, visit NGOs, and learn from locals about the practices of the Good Life and legal rights for nature impact sustainability. Trek south through the stunning Andes, passing by Machachi, Lasso, and Riobamba, to learn from farmers and local communities about models of agricultural production and how food affects their livelihoods.

South Africa: Cape Town

(5 weeks)

South Africa presents a unique opportunity to explore the complexities and contestations of food systems within a framework of racialized, socio-economic inequality. By spending time with locals in the city of Cape Town and nearby rural communities like Arniston village, you will have the opportunity to learn from academics, farmers, fishers, policymakers, NGOs, and activists while exploring the relationships between political and economic forces in the lives of ordinary people. Navigating a South African landscape of contradictions, you will engage with a range of issues including urbanization, land ownership, health and nutrition, child labor, indigenous knowledge systems, climate stress, government policies and the effects of COVID-19 on food systems, security, and sovereignty.

Spain: Bilbao and Extremadura

(5 weeks)

Spain is known worldwide for its Mediterranean diet, the attendant health outcomes, and the development of vanguard cuisine. Discover the deep relationship of Spanish culture and history with food, livelihoods, and  modes of production. Examine  debates about mass production and its impact on the environment. Learn how farmers or fishermen are recovering their traditional agriculture knowledge as a way of preserving threatened traditions while strengthening their identity and constructing food sovereignty. You will also explore the impacts and influence of the European Union on small-scale, rural producers, and take an excursion to the western region of Extremadura to compare food systems and practices.

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.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Explain the relationships between individual actions and broader structures, policies, institutions, and movements (agricultural, labor, social, and other) that influence food systems. 
  • Demonstrate reflexivity, grasping the nuances of cultural relativism and ethnocentrism, in the comparative inquiry of livelihoods and labor (agricultural and other). 
  • Apply diverse tools to identify social, political, environmental, and economic challenges to food systems.   
  • Formulate equitable, just, and sustainable solutions to food insecurity.  
  • Explain the influence of local ecologies and methods of natural resource management on agricultural decision-making and sustainable/resilient practices at different scales, from households to states to international bodies. 
  • Analyze how “tradition,” “technology,” and “innovation” in agriculture influence health and economic disparities as well as impact social change.  
  • Practice inquiry informed by values of empathy, solidarity, self-reflection, humility, and open-mindedness as we balance field-based experiential and traditional classroom ways of learning about food security.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


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.

This is SIT

  • We value active togetherness, reciprocity, and respect as the essential ingredients for building a sustainable community.
  • With open minds, empathy, and courage, we facilitate intercultural understanding and respect for the commonalities and differences between people.
  • We champion social inclusion & justice in all that we are and all that we do, from ensuring our community and our programs amplify the voices, agency, and dignity of all people to deliberately instilling the principles and practices of inclusion in all of our work.
  • We are committed to human and environmental well-being through sustainability and contributing to a better world for all living and future generations.

Politics, Identity, and Food

Politics, 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.

People, Ethics, and Food Security

People, 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 will include a mix of hostels, guesthouses, and small hotels/dorms.

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
Assistant Professor
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS
Country Coordinator, Ecuador
Nicholas Eppel
Country Coordinator, South Africa

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    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 Program (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.