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New minor Sustainability, Climate Change and Food: ‘A full spectrum analysis of global society’

In September 2023 the new minor Sustainability, Climate Change and Food starts. This minor critically examines the complexities of food sustainability through ecological, socio-economic, political, and cultural systems. Five questions to Giles Scott-Smith on the new minor.

Professor Giles Scott-Smith

Why did you develop this new minor?

'We saw an opportunity for creating something important and really good! The Liberal Arts and Sciences programme at Leiden University College (LUC) involves lecturers from across all the disciplines – sciences, social sciences, and humanities. I discovered that we had several colleagues who research and teach about food from different angles, but in different parts of our programme. Why not bring them together and create a team to run a new set of courses on food production and consumption, and its impact on our planet? Why not then make the courses available to everyone? It's perfect. We have the in-house skills to set it up, so let's go.'

'It’s a full spectrum analysis of global society, with all it's challenges and pitfalls, with food at the centre.' 

What is this minor about?

'We offer six courses, set up in two blocks of three. We start out in both blocks with a focus on the environmental and ecological dimensions to the issue – the need for types of food combined with the planetary limits to its production, in terms of the effects of climate change, water availability, natural resources, and the destruction of natural habitats. From there the courses take the students through the economics (the effects and inequalities caused by trade and investment) and the legal dimensions (the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals). The final courses show the students how food and conflict are intricately related, and how we need to reflect on our casual but damaging attitude towards food waste. It’s a full spectrum analysis of global society, with all its challenges and pitfalls, with food at the centre.'

'It will take the subject out of the textbook and link it directly with everyone’s everyday experience'

What will students learn?

'By taking this minor, our students will be able to appreciate the connections between global processes (climate, development, free trade, political decisions, the influence of international law, and so on) and local influences (from the farmer to the consumer) – including right here in The Hague. In this way the minor provides courses that are of added value for all Bachelor programmes – that is an important detail. It will take the subject out of the textbook and link it directly with everyone’s everyday experience. The minor is designed to stimulate critical reflection on how the global and the local are interlinked in ways that all of us can appreciate, because all of us need food every day.'

And is this minor – taught at LUC – open to all students?

'Absolutely! We exactly wanted this new minor to be open and appealing to all students from across Leiden as well as from Delft and Erasmus in Rotterdam, because we want to engage with the wide range of perspectives and disciplinary backgrounds that they will bring with them into the classroom. We want them to experience what we have to offer at LUC!'

For what type of student (study direction, area of interest) is this minor recommended?

'Everyone! All students looking for an interesting minor to complement their existing Bachelor studies are welcome to join us. We really want to mix the scientists with the social scientists with the humanities crowd. We want this to be interdisciplinarity in action – it’s the students, as well as the lecturers, who will make that happen.'


Are you interested in the minor Sustainability, Climate Change, and Food? Apply: 8 May at (13.00) till 31 May (13.00). More information:

Admission and application
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