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Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Food Systems

Colorado State University has several undergraduate and graduate courses and programs that are disciplinarily focused, but offer opportunities to explore food systems topics in an interdisciplinary context. Maintaining our commitment to science-based curriculum allows for disciplinary depth and maturation of a particular expertise. However, we offer opportunities to combine this with project-based experiential learning that offers linkages to other fields of study, and thus assures richer application to problems faced in real world food systems contexts.

As population continues to grow and demands for resources increase, understanding the nexus of Food-Energy-Water Systems is vital to ensure the reliability and equity of access to these crucial resources. The Interdisciplinary Training, Education and Research in Food-Energy-Water Systems (InTERFEWS) Program brings together PhD students from traditionally disparate disciplines to conduct research on key problems in the FEW nexus with a focus on water-scarce, arid regions. Learn more:


Students will review the physical, political, and structural context of the U.S. agricultural system and use economic concepts to analyze the food system, as well as tradeoffs associated with policy or other interventions.
Topics will include:
  • Food production and the environment
  • Rural development and agricultural policy
  • Processing and manufacturing supply chains
  • Retailing, restaurants and alternative markets
  • Food safety, labeling and advertising
  • Nutrition
  • Hunger and food insecurity
  • Food waste


AREC 222: Economics of Food Systems | Dr. Becca Jablonski | Fall | Online

AREC 422: Food Supply Chain Management | Dr. Josh Berning | Fall

Students will study the economics of food supply chain management including:

  • Examining supply chain competition
  • Discussing how consumer preferences and public policy influence changes along the supply chain
  • Evaluating the value add of supply chain technologies and identify critical industry challenges
  • Exploring industry case studies including: the brewing industry, fruit and vegetable supply chain, and retail grocery stores


Food systems include the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food, and associated waste management. In addition to the material flows, food systems are embedded within sociopolitical contexts, mediated by complex and uneven power relations, and changing in response to global and local challenges.

Students will engage in literature-based discussions that address the interdisciplinary complexities of food system challenges to identify promising strategies for improving the sustainability and resilience of food systems. Primary disciplinary foci will include ecology, agronomy, and social sciences. Students will be responsible for weekly readings, class participation and a short summary of a subset of the readings. Students will lead discussions and engage in group work.

*More Info PDF

ECOL 592: Sustainable Food Systems | Dr. Carrie Chennault and Dr. Meagan Schipanski | Spring

Assessing the Food-Energy-Water Nexus (CIVE/GES 528) | Fall 2021

Course Description:    This 3 credit hour course provides a broad overview of Food-Energy-Water (FEW) nexus issues, an understanding of the science underpinning FEW issues, working knowledge about the tradeoffs amongst sectors, and experience analyzing the socio-economic constraints and policy limitations incumbent on solutions to FEWS challenges. The course will introduce tools to enhance systems level thinking and problem solving.


Course Objectives: At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain and critically analyze issues related to each food, energy, and water systems and the connections between those systems
  • Apply concepts from economics, social sciences, and ecosystem sciences coupled with technical analysis to better analyze complex FEWS problems
  • Define, describe, and apply extra-disciplinary language
  • Apply systems thinking and the Drivers, Pressures, States, Impacts and Response (DPSIR) framework to holistically analyze complex FEWS problems


Enrollment Information: This is an interdisciplinary course and graduate students across disciplines are encouraged to enroll. Students must be enrolled as a graduate (M.S. or Ph.D) to enroll in the course. Enrollment requires instructor approval via an override from Dr. Sybil Sharvelle. Enrollment will be on a first come, first serve basis with high consideration given to diversify disciplines represented in the course. The course instructors will review the wait list 1 week prior to the first day of classes and provide overrides to students based on time of registration and considerations for representing multiple disciplines  (i.e., Economics, Engineering, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences).

This course will cover global and local food systems and their potential influence on nutrition and food security. Course content is designed to challenge students to apply a critical lens while examining food as it relates to self and society. Students can expect to engage with food systems under the umbrella of nutrition, food science, education, policy, agriculture, horticulture, community development, economics, and public health. Students will be introduced to systems thinking and will gain awareness of systematic oppression and inequalities within the existing food system as well. At the end of the course, participants will leave with a diverse toolkit of literature, case-studies, research methods, lessons, and networks to aid in effective work as food systems practitioners.

FSHN 455/500: Food Systems, Nutrition, and Food Security. Dr. Megan Mueller. Fall. In person.