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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 31 – May 14

Program Countries

Ecuador, Malawi, Spain, United States

Program Base

USA, Ecuador, Malawi, Spain

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate & Environment

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon


Why a Comparative Study of Food Systems?

Rising global temperatures and growing populations are straining food availability and access. Journey from Georgia in the United States to Ecuador, Spain, and Malawi, 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 programs, and innovative food safety and trade regulations. See the University of Georgia’s precision agriculture lab in Tifton and compare it to small, organic, cooperative farms in other countries. Live with a farming family in Malawi, tour major farming hubs of Ecuador, and examine the complexity and disparity when tradition meets vanguard cuisine in Spain. Across continents, explore the importance of celebrating food and examine gastronomy as a key driver of economic growth. Uncover 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!

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.


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



program map

Program Sites

United States: Atlanta, Athens & North Georgia

(11 days)

Study the history of plantation agriculture in a global context, and its transformation into today’s industrial agricultural complex. Starting in Atlanta, the historic center of civil rights activism, explore resistance and alternative food movements in an urban context. Travel on to Athens and tour a top-ranked school of agriculture to understand innovative breeding and growing techniques for plants and livestock. Then head north into the Appalachian region, visiting fourth-generation crop and livestock farmers and community farms long committed to social and environmental justice. 

Ecuador: Quito, Nanegalito & Mashpi

(4+ 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 through Machachi, Lasso, and Riobamba to learn from farmers and local communities about varied models of agricultural production and how food affects their livelihoods.

Malawi: Lilongwe, Salima & Ntcheu

(4+ weeks)

Explore perspectives on food security from farmers and 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.

Spain: Barcelona

(4+ weeks)

Spain is known worldwide for the health benefits of its Mediterranean diet and the development of vanguard cuisine. Discover the deep relationship of Spanish culture and history with food, livelihoods, and modes of production. Hear 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.

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.
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  • With open minds, empathy, and courage, we facilitate intercultural understanding and respect for the commonalities and differences between people.
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  • 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.
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  • 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


Student accommodations will include a mix of homestays, hostels, guesthouses, and small hotels/dorms. Students will experience homestays where possible, given COVID-19, and will be oriented as they move from place to place.

More About Homestay Experiences:

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 bio link
Joseph Lanning, PhD
Assistant Professor
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS bio link
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS
Country Coordinator, Ecuador
Mauro Castro Coma, PhD bio link
Mauro Castro Coma, PhD
Country Coordinator, Spain
Geoffrey Mlongoti bio link
Geoffrey Mlongoti
Country Coordinator, Malawi

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 nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown
  • On program in Malawi

    Check out SIT students visiting with one of our Malawi partner organizations — with thanks to Permaculture Paradise Institute!

    A visit to Paradise

    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.