The Future of Food Sustainability

International Summer University 2015

An ambitious program for gap year students and freshmen

The Summer University on the Future of Food Sustainability will address controversial questions regarding future food security and its sustainability in quantitative and qualitative terms. It will alert students to the present world of widespread hunger and food insecurity and help them to plan for a needed transition to a sustainable food system with access to healthy food and clean water for everyone.

The content of the Summer University is relevant to both nations of the Global South and to industrialized countries. Baccalaureate students, graduates and Bachelor students from different regions of the world will have ample opportunity for sharing their food security-related experiences from their different cultural perspectives. The exemplary case studies in Emmendingen will enable students to apply concepts and research methodologies in other settings.

Goat cheese dairy Monte Ziego

Work and research in a Real World Lab

Future College of Human Ecology

During the two weeks in Emmendingen the students will be introduced to a human ecological framework around food security and meal cultures in different settings. They will be exposed to relevant subject matter, theoretical concepts and research methodologies in a Real World Lab. Practical learning will take place within a transdisciplinary group project with the goal of designing a food and meal security plan for the town and the region. Concepts of sustainable food and meal systems will be explored with respect to meeting ecological, health, social and cultural criteria.

Each group will consist of three to four students who for their project decide on a self-chosen problem to be investigated together with one of our cooperation partners in Emmendingen. Four different perspectives will serve to illuminate the topics of nutrition, sustainability and food and meal security: food production, food marketing and trade, food consumption including meal preparation, and food waste and other losses.


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Each group will analyze the current conditions in Emmendingen and propose improvements in terms of greater food and meal security and sustainability. The group work will familiarize students with the practice of the businesses on the one hand and introduce them to a collective workshop environment on the other in a Real World Lab. Experienced faculty members from both DGH and COA will work with the students to guide their learning, while respecting individual interests and creativity and encouraging students to self-organize.

The Real World Lab takes the form of a Charrette, i.e., a workshop open to the public, giving the co-operating businesses and interested citizens the opportunity to become involved in the study process. As work progresses the student groups will show interim results and they will also give a final presentation at the end in the town hall of Emmendingen.

The town of Emmendingen

Emmendingen is a town near Freiburg im Breisgau. The region offers a variety of links to the program, including a long tradition of exceptionally high-quality production and processing of foodstuffs. It is a hotspot of biodynamic agriculture – the Demeter Movement. Not surprisingly, it also hosts a Slow Food association. Emmendingen possesses several remnants of medieval gardens and has plans to restore them as historical sites. One of the industrial highlights of the town, the Wehrle-Werk AG, develops and builds equipment for energy and environmental technology. It is also exploring the possibility of urban roof farming on its factory buildings. Seven local enterprises and organizations offer themselves as cooperating partners for the group projects. They include a dairy goat farm, horticulture, a beekeeper, a food marketer, organic shops, rural organizations, and charity organizations.

The people and businesses of Emmendingen are highly interested in having the European College of Human Ecology located in the town. Respective plans have been developed since a Charrette was held in 2011.

city centre of Emmendingen

An American-German Cooperation

The German Society for Human Ecology (DGH), founded in 1975, has had sustainable education on its agenda since the very beginning. In 2006 its Committee for a European College of Human Ecology was established to explore possibilities of founding a liberal arts college in Germany. The College of the Atlantic (COA) is a small college on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine, offering an excellent human ecology study program since 1969.

Responsible for the program:
Dr. Parto Teherani-Krönner (German Society for Human Ecology)
Dr. Molly Anderson (College of the Atlantic)