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Center for a Livable Future


Bloomberg School Courses

Food Production, Public Health and the Environment

Bob Lawrence, Keeve Nachman and Polly Walker
Second term - online only (4 credits)
Prerequisite: Introduction to Online Learning
For more information contact Pamela Rhubart Berg
Course website

Course Description

Provides an introduction to the complex and challenging public health issue of food security (sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all) in a world where approximately one billion people are undernourished, while almost two billion are overweight or obese. Explores the connections among diet, the current food and food animal production system and the environment and public health, considering factors such as equity, population pressure and the historical, economic and political forces that have helped shape food systems. 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. Guest lecturers include experts from a variety of disciplines and experiences.

This course is for public health students who want to learn more about how food and the environment are connected, either for professional practice or personal interest. Although it would be helpful to have a background or a general understanding of both nutrition and environmental health, this is not a requirement.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define the concepts of food systems and food security and describe how each relates to public health
  • Describe how the interconnectedness of diet, food production, the environment, equity, population and resources impact each other and ultimately human health
  • Describe five historical, economic or political factors that have helped shape the current food system
  • Identify three to five opportunities and challenges to encourage dietary behavior change, support sustainable agriculture, improve food security and lessen the environmental and public health impact of food production and consumption

Guest lecturers are experts from a variety of fields, including:

  • Brother David Andrews, international expert and consultant on the right to food
  • Michael Heller, farmer, agriculture policy expert and manager of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm
  • Carole Morison, farmer and former executive director of the Delmarva Poultry Justice Alliance
  • Wayne Roberts, coordinator of the Toronto Food Policy Council and leading thinker on food and sustainability issues
  • Bill Weida, agricultural economist and president, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project
  • Mark Winne, author of "The Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty"

Comments from former students:

  • One of the best classes I have taken at Hopkins!
  • This is a really interesting course and I would highly recommend it.
  • So much information packaged very effectively and efficiently. You will never look at your supermarket purchases the same!