KPU’s new online graduate program gives students insight into sustainable food systems and security

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      Canada and many countries around the world are facing food security issues as food systems are put under pressure from impacts such as climate change, environmental destruction, resource depletion and food inequity. The COVID-19 pandemic has further magnified concerns about changing global foodscapes and the resources that make up the Canadian food system.

      Now, a new generation of producers, businesses, and community leaders are working to strengthen the sustainable regional food systems and decrease Canada’s reliance on global-industrial food sources.

      To accommodate the growing demand for more professionals with an educational background in sustainable food systems, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) has developed an innovative online program. The graduate certificate in Sustainable Food Systems and Security (SFSS) program, which begins in September, focuses on societal, economic, and environmental strategies aimed at improving the future of food for everyone. It is also the only one of its kind in Canada.

      Intended for individuals already working in a position that connects with the course material, as well as newcomers to this critical issue, the program is meant to complement the skills, education, and experience that students already have.

      “This graduate certificate is focused on outcomes of our dominant food system and the actions that need to be taken to rectify them,” says Kent Mullinix, director of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at KPU. “There are a lot of interconnected elements, which go on to impact agriculture and food production, society, the economy, community health, and even our personal health—there’s much to understand and to be done.”

      Mullinix says many of these problems have recently become more evident. “For example, the pandemic is revealing the fragility and unsustainability of our food system, particularly global supply chains and mega-scale animal processing.”

      He notes that people who have been focused on bringing forth more sustainable food systems as a foundation of sustainable society have known of these fragilities and anticipated this kind of disruption. The pandemic could very well be the wake-up call that many folks needed to reevaluate our own consumption habits and our food systems. “People are now seeing that we need to restructure and build local-regional food systems and in doing so, we can actually strengthen our communities and society, and produce much more wholesome and nutritious food.”


      Climate change and pandemic-related food shortages aren’t the only food system troubles experienced in our society. Within the program, students will discuss other challenges like personal diets, increasing smaller scale, regenerative food productions to support an expanding world population, and quick service restaurants. The impacts of dietary shifts such as Meatless Monday, veganism, and vegetarianism will also be examined in the larger context of food systems and sustainability.

      With the course being delivered online, students are encouraged to take advantage of the flexibility. The program is designed to be completed in one year but students can take longer if needed to accommodate work and family commitments.

      The first portion of the SFSS certificate program will give students a comprehensive understanding of contemporary food systems and food security from environmental, social and economic perspectives. The second part of the program will focus on overcoming the challenges through alternate food system paradigms, technology, innovative models, policy, and activism—to name a few.

      Obtaining the SFSS certificate can benefit those working within a variety of different sectors like community development organizations, K-12 schools and education programs, domestic and international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, public health agencies, planning, consulting, and university-based research institutes. The program also transfers directly to Royal Roads University’s Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies Program and offers a sustainable food systems focus to the degree. Applicants to the program must already have an undergraduate degree.

      KPU and the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems are deeply dedicated to the concept of sustainability and educating others. “Our research and programming is not superficial but instead reflects a sincere commitment to the notion that a sustainable food system is the foundation of a sustainable society,” says Mullinix.

      KPU is creating the future generation of change-makers through the SFSS program and the other graduate programs offered at the university. KPU graduates go on to succeed in the workforce, lead in research, and teach others through education.

      The deadline for enrollment is August 1, 2020.

      For more information on the graduate certificate in SFSS, visit .

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