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  Home > Our Newsletter > One to One Articles > Educational relevance and sustainability‚Ķ New programs on the way!

Educational relevance and sustainability… New programs on the way!

Food Systems Diagram

Rapid changes in food systems locally and globally require not only depth of knowledge and technical skills in individual disciplines, but also interdisciplinary teamwork, critical thinking and effective communication skills as key behavioral competencies needed in real world.

For education to maintain its relevance, it must change and adapt its curriculum to include opportunities for its students to hone these important skills. In response to these workforce needs, CAHFS and other food related centers of expertise across the University of Minnesota are engaging public and private sector partners to enhance existing coursework and create new educational and professional development offerings that emphasize:

  • Strengthening communication of current science to inform policy-making
  • Analyzing and evaluating the complexity of food systems
  • Nurturing integrative leadership competencies for addressing global grand challenges
  • Analyzing risk to support decision-making in the face of uncertainty

Adults thrive through experiential learning that includes actual hands-on participation. So we’ve retooled how we teach by fostering higher level critical thinking that emphasizes application, analysis and creativity rather than simply remembering and understanding. Simulations, field courses, problem-solving and internships now outweigh passive lectures and rote memorization.

The modes of delivery and timing for CAHFS educational programming is evolving as we focus more on meeting the needs of mid-career professionals who want short intensive learning ‘institutes’ and more virtual education opportunities. We are building on the successful approaches pioneered in the public health institute, farm-to-table field courses and interactive policy courses.

CAHFS is currently seeking funding to create an interdisciplinary professional master’s program at UMN in Food Systems. The new degree program is designed to build interdisciplinary teamwork, critical thinking, and effective communication skills. This year CAHFS and its partners will pilot key program components built on a foundation of three intensive educational institutes: the existing Public Health Institute in May/June, and two new Institutes, a Food Systems Institute in August, and a Food Policy Institute in January.

Interested? We’re actively recruiting partners to help design and deliver this new program as well as recruiting for participants… Please contact me for more information at


William Hueston
Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine and School of Public Health
Global Leadership Programs
Center for Animal Health and Food Safety
University of Minnesota

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