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This interdisciplinary subject recognises and explores the intricate link between food, human health, and the sustainability of our planet. As the world is becoming increasingly urbanised and citizens are becoming more affluent, people are turning towards unhealthy “Western-style” diets characterised by high-energy, nutrient-poor processed and refined foods. This shift in dietary patterns has led to an increased morbidity burden due to obesity and other non-communicable diseases. Thus, there is an urgent need to address diet-related health problems created by under/over-nutrition and poor dietary practices by tackling the underlying scientific, technological, policy, regulatory, cultural, and economic determinants, and obstacles to creating healthy food and food systems.
Human diets inextricably link health and environmental sustainability. The present food system is one of the main causes of resource depletion and unacceptable environmental impacts, and is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, meeting nutritional needs for improved health while staying within “planetary boundaries” is the biggest challenge for humanity.
Solving the problem of providing enough healthy food for all while maintaining environmental health requires a radical shift to a global food system that needs to draw on knowledge and skills from the many disciplines of both Science and Humanities.
Eminent scholars will teach students from across the full range of disciplines in arts, biosciences, nutrition, medicine, agricultural science, and economics, plus practitioners from the food, nutrition, farm industry and the natural resource sector. Students will learn and develop methods to frame and discuss complex food and health-related issues through team exercises with fellow students.
Intended learning outcomes
On the successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Explain the significant challenges of feeding in healthy ways the growing global population in the coming decades whilst preserving the health of global natural environments
- Critically evaluate and discuss the role of governments, commerce, and civil society in improving food systems for better public health outcomes
- Discuss the inextricable link between food safety, nutrition and food security and appreciate the burden of foodborne diseases on human health and economies
- Discuss potential effects of nutritional choices on cognition, emotion, and immunity
- Analyse links between food practices and cultural, ethnic, and geographical identities in multicultural societies
- Discuss food as a deeply rooted expression of identity, values, and way of life
On completion of the subject, students should be able to:
- Think critically and integrate interdisciplinary knowledge
- Be able to critically assess information from a range of sources and assess its quality and relevance to questions under consideration.
- Demonstrate both written and oral communication skills
- Participate in a discussion group and develop a logical argument to support a particular position
- Participate effectively as a member of a team
- Plan work, use time effectively and manage projects and tasks
Last updated: 29 November 2023