Students at the UC Gill Tract Community Farm

UC Global Food Initiative: Experiential Learning

The Experiential Learning Subcommittee of the UC Global Food Initiative works to identify, increase, improve, and make more accessible experiential learning (EL) opportunities in food and agriculture systems for University of California (UC) students. The Experiential Learning Subcommittee also identifies associated best practices to share throughout the UC, California, the US, and the world.

The co-leaders of the subcommittee are staff members from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and UC Santa Cruz. The Berkeley Food Institute’s Executive Director, Ann Thrupp, is one of the co-leaders, and BFI affiliated faculty Jennifer Sowerwine is also an active participant. GFI Experiential Learning student fellows from the Berkeley Food Institute at UCB also have been key contributors.

Subcommittee Accomplishments

The subcommittee has focused its work in the following three areas:

Inventory and summary report of EL best practices in food and agriculture systems

The committee completed a UC-wide survey of EL courses and programs related to food and agriculture to develop an inventory of EL opportunities within the UC. GFI Experiential Learning Fellow Kate Kaplan spearheaded the completion of this inventory, which the EL Subcommittee published as an online Directory of EL Programs and Courses in fall 2015. In addition, the committee completed a report titled, “From the Ground Up: Experiential Learning in Food and Agriculture Systems at the University of California.” The report provides an overview and pedagogical framing of EL approaches related to food and agriculture. It also includes case studies in a wide range of content areas and summarizes lessons learned, best practices, and diverse EL experiences. The report and directory are also posted on the GFI website.

Student-led and directed videos on food and agriculture EL opportunities across UC campuses

Teams of students were selected through a competitive process to receive video recording equipment and produce videos highlighting food and agriculture EL opportunities. Completed videos from UC Berkeley include:

UC Berkeley Compost Alliance

Screenshot from video about Compost Alliance at UC Berkeley
Compost Alliance, UC Berkeley

Watch the film here.

UC Berkeley Student Organic Gardening Association

Screenshot from film by the Student Organic Garden Association, UC Berkeley
Student Organic Garden Association, UC Berkeley

Watch the film here.


Students from other UC campuses produced the following videos:

Workshops and conference to facilitate EL exchange across campuses

The committee hosted two workshops for UC students, faculty, and staff about experiential learning in early 2016. The first workshop was held on February 5 in Los Angeles, and the second workshop was held on February 20 in Davis for participants from Northern California campuses. These workshops enabled participants to learn from each other about experiential learning efforts and models. Participants also had the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships across campuses. The subcommittee co-organized a three-day national conference held at UC Santa Cruz on July 29–31, 2016 in collaboration with the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA). This conference allowed participants across the state and the nation to dig into diverse aspects of agriculture and food EL and build strong relationships with colleagues.