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New Master’s course launches to teach culinary professionals how to build a better food system

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long
two chefs picking fresh produce

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has developed a new Master’s course for food industry professionals to teach them how to build a more sustainable future for food. 

According to the CIA, MA Sustainable Food Systems is the only degree of its kind to approach sustainability issues through a culinary lens, and as such it is geared toward chefs and other culinary professionals.

However, the college also states the curriculum offers plenty of information which could also be invaluable to people pursuing careers like Agricultural Specialist, Environmental Lobbyist, Product Developer and Food Educator. Previous experience working with food is preferred but not essential. 

Cathy Jörin, Senior Director at The Culinary Institute of America’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies, told SmartBrief:This program is designed to inspire and empower food professionals to effect food system change.

“As the world’s premier culinary college, food is at the core of everything we do. Our program faculty are chefs, academics, consultants and professionals with a wide variety of expertise in educating and engaging with culinarians and food system experts.”

The two-year course is primarily taught online, with two short residencies held in various parts of the US which students are expected to attend in their first and third semesters. 

These short stays, held in either the San Francisco Bay, New York or the Hudson Valley, aim to help students understand localised food systems. 

Understanding the “interconnectedness” between planetary health and food systems is one of the key points touched on in the course, The Culinary Institute of America says. 

This will be covered with specific reference to things like waste reduction, renewable resources, responsible sourcing, and regenerative agriculture. 

Alongside these more practical lessons, the Master’s also offers a theoretical grounding by focusing on institutional and public policies which affect food systems, such as those related to diversity and inclusion, labour justice and race and gender inequality.

Modules are taught be a mix of adjunct faculty, guest lecturers and CIA staff. Among the CIA staff involved are Dr Scott Alves Barton, whose focus is on race and class within food; Professor Robert A. Perillo, who will teach about local, regional, and global food systems; and Dr Deirdre Murphy, whose expertise lies in sustainability and climate change. 

Additionally, the Master’s degree is informed by contributions from an external Advisory Council, comprised of leaders in sustainability and organisational strategy from some of the top food and beverage companies and organisations around the world. 

Members include Good Food Institute Senior Advisor Alison Rabschnuk, Danone Food & Agriculture Impact Senior Director Tina Owens; and Oatly North America Director of Sustainability Julie Kunen PhD. 

For more information on careers in the food and drinks industry, take a look at Food Matters Careers & Courses pages


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