Learn to Be a Leader in Feeding Virginia

Christie Julien – February 28th, 2018

The Virginia Food Systems Leadership Institute (VFSLI) prepares rising leaders in the area of sustainable food systems by combining pertinent content knowledge in food systems, competency development in leadership, and a means for students to gain practical skills and hands-on experience related to job opportunities and infrastructure improvement in local and regional food systems. The course is a project of the Virginia Sustainable Food Coalition (VSFC), whose mission is to harness the intellectual, human, and economic capital of colleges and universities to foster the emerging local food economy in the Commonwealth.

 VFSLI participants will:

  • Learn the components of food systems and understand how these components interact
  • Understand environmental, economic, and social characteristics of sustainable food systems
  • Learn the history of the Virginia food system
  • Understand how the Virginia food system currently functions and analyze current efforts to make it more sustainable
  • Learn leadership best practices and how to apply these in food system settings
  • Build familiarity with structure of university dining operations, including how dining services are provided at SMSC and at each of the four universities' main campuses
  • Understand issues related to university dining and sustainability, including procurement, third-party certification, food safety, and issues related to composting and waste
  • Build familiarity with evaluation metrics such as AASHE STARS and Real Food Challenge, and with food tracking tools used by dining providers

Course Name: Virginia Food Systems Leadership Institute  (goo.gl/Wwza3c)

Number: INTS 475 (undergrad) and INTS 575 (grad)

Credits: Four (4) credits   (Your School’s Dean’s office, or in the College your Associate Dean, will assist in transfer of GMU credits to your UVA major or graduate program.)

Requirements: For graduate students, advanced undergraduate students, and food system practitioners seeking professional development opportunities. No pre-requisites. (Just complete online application!)

Instructors: Interdisciplinary program delivered by a faculty team representing four public universities (4VA) in Virginia: University of Virginia, George Mason, James Madison, and Virginia Tech.

University of Virginia instructors: Tanya Denckla Cobb, Director, Institute for Environmental Negotiation, School of Architecture; Paul Freedman, Professor of Politics; Samantha Jameson, University Dining.

Part One: Intensive Course Work (June 4-15 2018)

Students stay in residence at the beautiful Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) in Front Royal to complete intensive course work on food systems and leadership development. Classroom work will be combined with field trips to farms, food hubs, professional kitchens, and other relevant food system sites.

Part Two: Action Research Project (June 18-28 2018)

Using a synchronous distance learning platform, students spend two weeks working on a faculty-supervised team doing an action research project focused on identifying and removing barriers to increased university sourcing of locally produced foods. Students can participate in Part Two of VFSLI from anywhere, as long as they have an Internet connection.

 Part Three: Plenary Symposium (June 29 2018) 

Part three of VFSLI is a one-day symposium for students and faculty to reconvene to share and critically evaluate action research project results. Students will have the option of convening at SMSC or joining via the course’s distance learning platform.    

Course Cost (includes 4 credits of tuition + two weeks room and board at SMSC):  $2,740