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Food Systems, the Environment and Public Health


In many ways, food is a fundamental element of our society and our food system is a core factor in our public health profile and challenges.  Our food systems encompass the activities, infrastructure, and people involved in feeding our population (e.g., the growing, processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal of foods) and are at the nexus of many of the today's most significant public health and environmental problems.  Upon completion of the courses required for the Food Systems, the Environment and Public Health Certificate, individuals will have gained specialized knowledge and understanding of the relevance of food systems to many different competencies in public health.  The certificate program is designed for masters and doctoral degree students and post-doctoral trainees at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and junior and mid-level professionals (non-degree students) desiring to expand their knowledge of food systems and the relationship with the public's health and apply communication and/or public health policy analysis and advocacy skills to study and address the public health implications of food systems.

Educational Objectives

Students completing the certificate program will be able to:

1.  Define and describe food systems, including identification of points in the food production and distribution processes that create risks for workers, communities, consumers, the ecosystem, and food community.

2.  Describe the history and evolution of food systems and food production practices and characterize the impacts of such practices on the public's health.

3.  Use a systems perspective to analyze and apply critical thinking to inter-relationships within food systems, specifically among diet, food production, the environment and public health.

4.  Analyze strengths and weaknesses of political, social, and economic policies and other interventions to address food system issues including food production, consumption, and the fulfillment of the right to adequate food.

5.  Apply selected skills (risk assessment, advocacy, communication, and evidence-based decision rules) to influence legislative and regulatory policy aimed at promoting healthy and sustainable food systems.


All JHU graduate students are eligible for admission to this certificate program.  Additionally, junior or mid-level professionals (ie, non-degree students) with at least a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, a strong academic record and professional experience in food systems related work are eligible.  

Admissions Process

Applicants should review the How to Apply page for information about eligibility and special instructions.  The certificate program's review committee will review the applications and notify each applicant of their admissions decision. 

Requirements for Successful Completion 

The certificate program requires a minimum of 18 term credits.  All required and elective courses must be taken for a letter grade and a 2.75 or better overall GPA for all certificate courses is required.  The certificate program length is flexible; however, the certificate must be completed within three years.  

The student should review the section of the website that addresses completion before completing certificate program requirements. The student's transcript will not indicate that the certificate was earned until the Notification of Completion has been submitted, verified by the certificate program, and processed by the Registrar. 

Course of Study

Students should check the course catalog to confirm when the courses are offered.  The term and time may change from what is listed inthe table below.  Students should also check prerequisites and whether instructor consent is required.  

Course NumberCourse NameNo. CreditsTerm offered onlineTerm offered on campus
All students must take the following courses:

Introduction to Online Learning

All students are required to complete this free course before taking other online courses

01,2,3,4, Summer-

Academic and Research Ethics

All students are required to complete this free course before taking other online courses

180.620Food Systems and Public Health 42-
Required Courses: Students must complete two courses from Group A, one from Group B and one from Group C for a total of at least 14 credits
Group A: Select TWO courses from the following:
180.605Food System Sustainability Practicum3-4
180.606Case Studies in Food Production and Public Health44-
180.655Baltimore Food Systems: A Case Study of Urban Food Environments4-3
Group B: Select ONE course from the following:
180.611The Global Environment, Climate Change and Public Health4-1
182.640Food and Water Borne Diseases3-3
222.653Food Technology and Health3-4
222.657Food Nutrition Policy2-1
Group C: Select ONE additional course from the following:
222.654Food, Culture and Nutrition4-4
317.600Intro to the Risk Sciences and Public Policy431
317.610Risk Policy, Management  and Communication342
410.650Introduction to Persuasive Communications: Theories and Practice4-2, WI
410.663Media Advocacy and Public Health: Theory and Practice3-4
410.672Intro to Campaigning and Organizing for Public Health33,S-

Contact Information

Certificate Program Contact
Name: Margaret Burke
Phone: 410-502-7578

Faculty Sponsor
Name: Keeve Nachman

Faculty Co-Sponsor
Name: Roni Neff

Faculty Co-Sponsor
Name: Robert Lawrence

Please note:  The certificate program's curriculum changed in July 2015.  Students who began the certificate program prior to that date may still complete the program according to the original course requirements, and should contact Meg Burke with any questions. 

Gainful Employment Program Information

In accordance with US Department of Education regulations, the JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health is required to disclose graduation rate data, median loan debt data, and other select information for all Title IV eligible gainful employment programs. To see the most recent data available for this gainful employment program, please view the attached disclosure.