Graduate student Aidee Guzman conducts a crop diversity survey at a farm site in Fresno. Photo by Rodolfo Huerta.

Graduate Certificate in Food Systems

Overview

The Graduate Certificate in Food Systems (GCFS) responds to an escalating need to empower new leaders with the capacity to create innovative solutions to pressing food and agriculture challenges. Building on UC Berkeley’s strength as a cross-disciplinary pioneer in food systems studies, the Certificate in Food Systems prepares master’s and doctoral students to think critically about the multi-level, multi-system factors that affect food production, distribution, and consumption locally, nationally, and globally. This interdisciplinary program complements students’ primary fields of study by addressing the ecological, social, health, political, policy, legal, and economic dimensions of food and agriculture and providing graduates with the necessary theoretical framework and practical skills that can be applied across diverse and emerging food systems challenges.

The GCFS is hosted by the School of Public Health, Rausser College of Natural Resources, and Goldman School of Public Policy, and administered by the Berkeley Food Institute. Students from any graduate program at UC Berkeley are eligible to undergo the certificate.

Program Benefits

The Graduate Certificate in Food Systems provides a unique opportunity for making connections with students from across the campus with a shared interest in food systems. Typically students from ten different Berkeley degree programs participate in the core course; together they make an interdisciplinary intellectual community not typically found within students’ primary degree programs.

The core course and certificate provides an integrated and structured overview of food systems such that graduates understand complex “production webs,” how each aspect of these systems feeds into and depends on other aspects, and how different disciplines (ecology, business, policy, law, public health) have approached challenges in food systems. Through the certificate, students are exposed to multidisciplinary experiences and trained in analytical and applied skills. Thus, students who complete the certificate are better contributors to the multidisciplinary teams that are increasingly leading food systems change. Further, students will be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of various strategies (e.g., legal, political, or market-based) that they might pursue as they work to improve food systems during their careers.

Eligibility and Requirements

Applicants must:

  1. Be currently enrolled in a UC Berkeley graduate program
  2. In good academic standing: GPA of 3.0 or better

Coursework requirements:

Minimum of 3 courses (totaling a minimum of 9 units), each of which must be taken for a letter grade.

  1. Required core course: PB HLTH 207: Transforming Food Systems: From Agroecology to Population Health (3 units, taught each fall)
  2. Minimum of two elective courses, chosen from the list below, totaling a minimum of 6 units. Courses not on the electives list will be considered on a case by case basis

We encourage students to take all certificate courses outside their primary degrees; however one course can overlap with primary degree requirements.

Certificate Forms

Application

Complete the Application for Admission Form to plan out your certificate coursework. You are encouraged to apply prior to taking the core course, though it is not required. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. For students in 2-year masters programs, you are encouraged to take the core course and/or at least one elective during your first year to ensure you are able to complete the certificate requirements.

This application for admission signals a student’s interest in the Graduate Certificate in Food Systems, but does not guarantee that the certificate will be awarded, nor guarantee a seat in GCFS-approved courses.

Schema of the food system

Core Course

PB HLTH 207 Transforming Food Systems: From Agroecology to Population Health is held every fall and taught by Kristine Madsen, Associate Professor in the Joint Medical Program/Public Health Nutrition. The course is conducted as a weekly seminar with guest lectures by UC Berkeley’s preeminent food systems scholars and other experts in the field. It takes a solutions-oriented approach to addressing the pressing problems in current food systems through strategies used by the disciplines of agroecology, policy, law, public health, and business in working to improve food systems and apply their varied approaches to real-world case studies. Through weekly readings, discussions, and problem-solving sessions, students will gain a broad understanding of food systems and the leverage points that can be targeted to improve the health of people and the planet.

The Fall 2021 core course will be held on Thursdays, 2 – 5pm, for in-person instruction (pending latest public health guidelines). It will be taught by Lia Fernald, Professor of Community Health Sciences. Look for course 32183 in the online schedule of classes.

Elective Courses

The following electives count toward the Graduate Certificate in Food Systems. Note that not every course is offered on a yearly basis. Check guide.berkeley.edu for the most up to date course descriptions and class schedule. Classes in bold with an * are being held in Spring 2022.

  1. ANTHRO 230 Food, Agriculture, and Sovereignty, 4 Units (Fall). Christine Hastorf.
  2. *ARESEC 242 Quantitative Policy Analysis, 3 Units (Spring). David Zilberman and Brian Wright.
  3. CY PLAN C256/PB HLTH C233 Healthy Cities, 3 Units (Fall). Jason Corburn.
  4. *DEVP 227 Principles of Natural Resource Management, 2 Units (Spring). Matthew Potts.
  5. *ENERES 275 Water and Development, 4 Units (Spring, every other year). Isha Ray.
  6. ESPM 226 Interdisciplinary Food and Agriculture Studies, 3 Units (Fall, every 3 years). Alastair Iles.
  7. *ESPM 230 Sociology of Agriculture, 4 Units (Spring). Kathryn de Master.
  8. * ESPM 235 Indigenous Environmental Studies, 4 Units (Spring). Elizabeth Hoover.
  9. ESPM 261 Sustainability and Society, 3 Units (Fall). Alastair Iles.
  10. ESPM 268 Seminar in Range Ecology (Agroforestry), 2 Units (Fall and/or Spring). Lynn Huntsinger.
  11. ESPM 279 Seminar on Pastoralism, 3 Units (Fall and/or Spring). Lynn Huntsinger.
  12. * ESPM 280 Seminar in Range Ecosystem Planning and Policy (California’s Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Strategy). 3 Units (Fall and/or Spring). Lynn Huntsinger
  13. ESPM 290/ENE RES 290 Agrarian Questions: Land, Labor, and Livelihoods, 4 Units (Fall). Youjin Chung.
  14. LAW 220F, Food Law and Policy, 3 Units (Spring). Steve Sugarman. (Not scheduled for 2021–22. The schedule of classes for Law can be found at law.berkeley.edu.)
  15. MBA 292N Food Innovation Studio, 2 Units (Fall). Will Rosenzweig. (This course is by application; instructions will be posted here when the course is next offered)
  16. *MBA 292T Edible Education 101, 3 Units (Spring). Will Rosenzweig. (For nonHaas students: the MBA Program does not use CalCentral to manage its course enrollments. You must instead use the Haas Online Registrar system. Go to mbarequest.haas.berkeley.edu to submit your request. Requests open in early December for spring classes).
  17. *NUSCTX 260 Metabolic Bases of Human Health and Diseases, 4 Units (Spring). Joe Stahl, Joseph L Napoli, Ronald M. Krauss.
  18. * PBHLTH TBD Plant Futures Symposium: Introduction to Plant-Centric Food Systems, 1 Unit (Spring). Will Rosenzweig. (See application instructions here).
  19. * PBHLTH TBD Plant Futures Challenge Lab, 3 Units. (Spring). Will Rosenzweig. (See application instructions here; application deadline is December 15, 2021).
  20. *PBHLTH 206B Food and Nutrition Policies and Programs, 3 Units (Spring). Wendi Gosliner, Lia Fernald, or Barbara Laraia.
  21. *PBHLTH 206D Food and Nutrition Programs and Policies in Developing Countries, 3 Units (Fall or Spring). Lia Fernald.
  22. PBHLTH 207A Public Health Aspects of Maternal and Child Nutrition, 2–3 Units. Lia Fernald.
  23. PBHLTH 266A Foodborne Diseases, 2 Units (Spring, every other year). Sangwei Lu.
  24. PBHLTH C271G/ESPM C282 Health Implications of Climate Change, 3 Units (Spring). Justin Remais.
  25. PBHLTH 290 Social Justice and Worker Health, 3 Units (Fall, every other year). John Balmes and Suzanne Teran.
  26. *PUBPOL 290 Poverty, Inequality and the Social Safety Net, 3 Units (Spring). Hilary Hoynes.
  27. PUBPOL 290 The Fight for Food Justice: Mass Movement or Consumer Culture? 3-4 Units (Fall, every other year). Saru Jayaraman.

Elective Petitions

Students can petition for graduate courses (200 level) beyond the standard elective list to count toward the certificate. Particularly 290 Special Topics and 299 Independent Study courses will be considered on a case by case basis, as topics pertain to food systems. Submit the Elective Petition Form to propose a course. Electives proposed by petition must be approved by the certificate administrator and faculty director for the course to count toward the certificate.

Certificate Completion

Students submit the Certificate Completion Form at the point that all requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Food Systems are complete. Submit this form by April 15 of your graduating year in order for the certificate to appear on your transcript. If you have certificate courses in progress during your final semester, you can indicate this on the form. Final grades will be verified prior to award of the certificate.

Completion of the GCFS will be noted in the memorandum section of the student’s official transcript (not on the diploma). At the time of completion, each student receives a physical certificate signed by the deans of Berkeley Public Health, Rausser College of Natural Resources, and Goldman School of Public Policy.

If you have any questions, please contact Rosalie Z. Fanshel, certificate administrator, at rzfanshel@berkeley.edu.