The Future of Food
The Future of Food is a collaboration between CMU Professor of Geology Gigi Richard and faculty at Penn State University. It is being piloted this spring.


Citizens of the world

Education is a key component in maintaining a sustainable future for humankind. With knowledge of the earth’s environment, natural resources, food systems and water usage, today’s citizens and future generations will be able to impact decisions about conservation and world issues.    

Colorado Mesa University Professor of Geology Gigi Richard, PhD, is teaching students to be more Earth-conscious in a new general education course being piloted this spring, titled the Future of Food.

“The course is about our human food systems and how these systems rely on aspects of the environment, such as natural resources and water,” Richard said. “It’s also about how the natural environment assigns what our food systems look like in other regions and how food systems affect the natural environment.”

The class touches on health, nutrition and how the human diet has changed throughout history. It covers modern movements to bring humans back to a healthier local and less-processed diet.

The Future of Food is sponsored through InTeGrate, a five-year grant program funded by the National Science Foundation. Richard teamed up with three faculty members from Penn State University and spent about 18 months developing the course. The curriculum had to pass multiple assessments before it was approved for teaching.

“It’s kind of an intensive process,” Richard said. “Materials that are developed are textbook quality. The course had to pass a rubric before we could even teach it.”

The Future of Food is being piloted at Penn State and CMU as a hybrid class — learning takes place mostly online and students meet in class once a week.

At the end of the semester, Richard and her Penn State colleagues will reconvene and spend up to a year refining materials based on their experiences. The course will be reviewed and assessed again by experts in sustainability and will eventually be published on InTeGrate’s website for educators to use free of charge.

Richard believes the course will help make students better global citizens.

“Truly our modern food system is a global food system,” she said. “[The course] helps students see their position in the global system because students learn about what goes into their food, where it’s made, how it’s made and the impacts of production.”

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