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The Future of Sustainable Food Business

International Summer University 2016

An ambitious program for gap year students and freshmen

The Summer University on the Future of Sustainable Food Business will address controversial questions regarding our food system, its sustainability, and innovative concepts in sustainable business to realize changes. It will challenge students to bring the discussion on sustainability into practice through real-world case scenarios with local partners in Emmendingen.

Students will develop skills for a needed local and global transition to a sustainable food system. The content of the Summer University is relevant to both nations of the Global South and to industrialized countries. Students from different regions of the world will have ample opportunity to share their experiences from their diverse cultural perspectives


Goat cheese dairy Monte Ziego

Work and research in a Real World Lab

Field trip during the summer university 2015

Sustainable food entrepreneurs are at the forefront of changes and challenges in the food system. Such enterprises take advantage of the value squandered by the linear industrial economy. They are redefining farming, production, distribution, consumption, and food waste as a resource.Students will be introduced to new frameworks in sustainable business, human ecology, and food systems, as well as con-cepts in meal cultures, power dynamics, and community food assessment. Students will be exposed to relevant subject matter, theoretical concepts, and practical skills in a Real World Lab, with emphasis on practical learning through a transdisciplinary group project in the open ambience of a Charrette in the heart of Emmendingen.

After visiting local food systems partners, students will divide themselves into groups of three to four in order to investigate and address a self-chosen problem together with one partner business or organization.

Each group will analyze the unique challenges of their partner and will evaluate the potential to incor-porate or expand sustainability into its business strategy. Simultaneously, students will combine their observations from Emmendingen and new concepts from lectures and discussions to analyze the local food system and its sustainability. At the end of the two weeks, groups will present findings, key con-cepts, and any recommendations in a public exhibi-tion for the town of Emmendingen.

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Students will have ample time to gather first-hand experience on site with their partner business or organization, and work autonomously in teams to develop their projects. 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 all interested citizens the opportunity to be involved in process. As work progresses the student groups will show inter-im results and at the end in the final exhibition.

The town of Emmendingen

Emmendingen is a town near Freiburg im Breisgau. The Freiburg region represents the origin of the environmental movement in Germany. Not surpris-ingly, the region offers a variety of links to the pro-gram, including a long tradition of exceptionally high-quality food production. It is a hotspot of biodynamic agriculture – the Demeter Movement – and also hosts a Slow Food association. There is also an investiga-tion into the possibility of urban roof farming on factory buildings at the Wehrle-Werk AG, an industri-al center for energy and environmental technology that has hospitably opened an extra office building for our working space. The tiny exclusive Art-Hotel Markgraf offers a welcoming place to stay.

Local business and organizations have offered to support as partners. They represent diverse areas of the food system, ranging from organic and biody-namic farming, food production and distribution, to local food business investment, gleaning food ‘waste’, and the slow food movement.

The people and businesses of Emmendingen whole-heartedly supported every aspect of the first DGH Summer University in 2015, with much excitement the supporting steps towards establishing the Euro-pean College of Human Ecology directly in the town.

Future College of Human Ecology

A transatlantic 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 Commit-tee 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:
Professor Jay Friedlander, Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Sustainable Responsible Business (College of the Atlantic)
Dr. Wolfgang H. Serbser (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Humanökologie)