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Center for a Livable Future



The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's OpenCourseWare (OCW) project provides access to content of the School's most popular courses. As challenges to the world's health escalate daily, the School feels a moral imperative to provide equal and open access to information and knowledge about the obstacles to the public's health and their potential solutions.

Materials from the Center for a Livable Future courses are available through the OCW program.

Food Systems and Public Health

Robert Lawrence, Polly Walker, Keeve Nachman and Pamela Rhubart Berg

Provides an overview of the complex and challenging public health issue of food security (sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all) in a world where one billion people are undernourished, while another billion are overweight. Explores the connections among diet, the current food and food animal production system, the environment and public health, considering factors such as economics, population and equity. Focuses on the U.S. experience, but also uses case studies in the U.S. and internationally to illustrate the issues discussed. Considers alternative approaches to achieving both local and global food security. Explores the important role public health professionals can play.

Available:  Lecture audio, powerpoint slides, syllabus, readings and resources, assignments

Baltimore Food Systems: A Case Study of Urban Food Environments

Roni Neff

This course uses experiential learning, discussion, service learning, and related texts to challenge students to look closely at the environment of Baltimore City's complex food systems.  Students consider what it would take to improve these systems to assure access for all to nutritious, adequate, affordable food; to address diet-related disease; to create just and sustainable food labor conditions; increase the supply of and demand for healthy and sustainably produced foods; and to reduce food system environmental harms.  

Students "go backstage" with tour guides at a supermarket, an emergency food center, an urban farm, a rural farm, and an aquaponics facility. Students will participate in service learning projects, providing the opportunity to contribute to improving the city’s food system while gaining additional experiential insights.  Students will also have the opportunity to conduct interviews with some of those who have been at the forefront of food system change in Baltimore.  In-class sessions are structured primarily as discussion seminars. Guest speakers active in the city’s food system join many of the sessions to share their perspectives.

Throughout, students consider the relative impacts of access, demand, cost, stakeholder interests, administrative issues, history, and power, and consider the relative strengths of voluntary, governmental, legal and other strategies.  Discussions and lectures consider applicability of lessons gained from the study of Baltimore to other food systems.

Available:  Syllabus, readings and resources, assignments


Free Online Course

Free Online Course Offered Through Coursera

“An Introduction to US Food Systems:  Perspectives from Public Health”
Offered 2013-2016
A food system encompasses the activities, people and resources involved in getting food from field to plate. Along the way, it intersects with aspects of public health, equity and the environment. In this course, we will provide a brief introduction to the U.S. food system and how food production practices and what we choose to eat impacts the world in which we live. Through several case studies, we discuss some key historical and political factors that have helped shape the current food system and consider alternative approaches from farm to fork. The course is led by a team of faculty and staff from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Guest lecturers include experts from a variety of disciplines, including public health and agriculture.

On-demand course available Fall, 2016.