Sustainable food systems: embedding education for sustainable development (ESD) in a food science module

Kieran Higgins*, Alison Calvert, Alysha Thompson, Tracy Galvin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This paper explores the design and implementation of an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)-informed food science module, following the authors’ participation in the Learning Design and ESD Bootcamp. The module aims to challenge and transform students' beliefs, values, and assumptions about real-world issues in the agri-food industry through active learning in an outward-facing curriculum that makes use of place-based learning, problem-based learning and peer and collaborative learning. Assessment was designed to be as authentic as possible, mirroring real-world tasks and challenges. Preliminary feedback indicates that the module was well received by students and contributed to their understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with sustainable food production, processing, and consumption, as well as their ability to critically evaluate and propose solutions to real-world problems in the agri-food industry. However, the authors’ also encountered challenges in student engagement, resistance from teaching staff and institutional barriers that made constrained design and made implementation difficult. Overall, this paper highlights the importance of ESD in curricula generally and food science in particular. The success of the module so-far demonstrates the value of active and authentic learning experiences in developing students' understanding of sustainability in the agri-food industry as well as promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The challenges faced during the development and implementation process offer insights into the importance of leadership as well as targeted support for staff involved in curriculum development and delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37 - 47
Number of pages10
JournalOpen Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 07 Jun 2024


  • case study
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • sustainability
  • sustainable food systems
  • learning design
  • authentic assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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