The global burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs, e.g. obesity, diabetes, CVD, malignancies), infectious diseases (e.g. malaria, measles) and the ‘double burden of disease’ in both Western and Low & Middle Income Countries (LMIC) call for a diet shift to increased nutrient density and lowered energy density. Moreover, because of the current climate concerns and the growing world population this should go hand-in-hand with reducing the environmental footprint of plant- & animal-based food production, processing and distribution systems (e.g., GHG-emissions, land use). These societal challenges are recognized by governments and supply chain actors at national and global levels. For research, this requires evaluation of synergies and trade-offs between nutritional health, environmental sustainability and social inclusiveness, together with cost-effective intervention strategies and policies, e.g. food reformulation and procurement; food prices, taxes and subsidies; FBDGs, food labelling and communication. This requires a food systems approach, that allows for interdisciplinary collaboration and involvement of societal actors at the micro-, meso- and macro- level of the food system.
The course welcomes PhD students and post-docs as well as professionals from industry and research centers. It will build on insights from environmental, biomedical and social sciences; nutrition, epidemiology, food science, agricultural, ecological and behavioral sciences, etc. Basic scientific knowledge on concepts and methods and study designs in qualitative and quantitative research is assumed.
The course uses a food systems approach to sustainably address societal challenges in food and nutrition security, under- and over-nutrition, global health and environmental protection. It aims to broaden disciplinary thinking in agriculture, food sciences, nutrition and health and to appreciate interdisciplinary research perspectives. Moreover, to arrive at a viable food system, it aims to contribute to synergy between scientific disciplines, applied research and stakeholders along the food supply chain.
After participation the participant:
- Appreciates the interdisciplinary concept of sustainability, the relevance and contributions of disciplines beyond his/her own expertise, and the role of stakeholders including consumers.
- Has a deepened understanding of the key scientific and societal issues relevant to advancing healthy and sustainable food systems (agricultural production, global burden of disease, environmental protection).
- Is inspired to contribute to a systems approach in his/her future career in scientific research and/or societal innovation; understands what this implies for conduct of research and data stewardship.
- Knows to use systems thinking to critically evaluate current research on sustainable and healthy diets and can suggest useful directions for research, food chain actors and policy makers.
The course consists of lectures, data practicals, and discussions with stakeholders and faculty. What comprise these course activities?
- Current knowledge base: Lectures to obtain an overview of food systems and population health; assessment and evaluation of environmental sustainability and health impact of current dietary patterns and dietary changes.
- Food systems: lectures to understand the principles and indicators of healthy diets, global health and environmental sustainability; basic and advanced optimization methods. Policy alternatives, spatial heterogeneity, foresight and scenarios.
- Practical work: gain a critical attitude by performing basic calculations of the impact of dietary changes on nutritional health and sustainability.
- Societal debate with public and private sector stakeholders in the food system: Balancing health with social, ecological, and economic sustainability.
- Research needs: filling research gaps, advancing methodology, enabling research infrastructures, data stewardship.
Optional one-day extension of the Masterclass:
- Students who want to acquire a deeper understanding of linear programming methods can sign-up for an extra day for supervised analysis of data made available by the course faculty. This optional extension is new as compared to the 2017 and 2019 course editions.
- Prof Pieter van ‘t Veer, Wageningen University & Research, Division of Human Nutrition
- Dr Kasper Hettinga, Wageningen University & Research, Food Quality and Design Group
- Dr Jochem Jonkman, The Graduate School VLAG, Wageningen University
Date & duration
The course will be held from July 5th (1.00 pm) to July 7th (1.00 pm ). The one-day extension with supervised quantitative data analysis is scheduled on July 7th-July 8th (1.00 pm).
The study load of this course is 0.8 ECTS credits; the optional extension with quantitative analysis adds another 0.5 ECTS credits.
The course language will be English.
For more information please contact:
Dr Jochem Jonkman
The Graduate School VLAG
P.O. Box 17
6700 AA Wageningen
Phone: +31 317 489549
Location & accommodation
Lectures will be given at the Forum building on the campus of Wageningen University. Wageningen is located 5 km from the train station of Ede-Wageningen. This railway station can be reached by train from the airport Schiphol in about one hour. Hotel accommodations in Wageningen should be arranged separately (see below).
We assume the course can be offered on campus. In May, the faculty will decide whether the course will be offered online, because of COVID-19 restrictions. In that case, the elective day on data analysis cannot be offered, and the course fee will be adapted accordingly.
Wageningen International Congress Centre
Hotel de Wageningse Berg
Bed & Breakfast:
see Bed & breakfast Wageningen
Rooms and appartments:
see Short Stay Wageningen
Registration & course fee
To register go to the course registration form.
The number of participants to the course is limited to 30. The final registration date is 5 June 2021.The course fee (which includes downloadable materials, coffee/tea during breaks, lunches and one dinner but does not cover accommodation) depends on the participant's affiliation. The fee will be reduced in case the course will be offered online.
The course fee
||July 5-7 (base) 0.8 ECTS
||July 5-8 (including optional) 1.3 ECTS
|VLAG/WU PhD candidates
|| € 175
|| € 225
|| € 400
|| € 450
|University staff / Postdocs / Non profit organisations
|| € 525
|| € 625
|Industry / For-Profit
|| € 800
|| € 1200
Applicants will be informed of acceptance of their registration within two weeks of the final registration date. They will then receive instructions for payment, a letter of acceptance and further course details. Cancellations may be made free of charge until 5 June 2021. After this date the charge will be 25% of the course fee paid or due. Substitutions may be made at any time.
- No charge until 5 June 2021
- 25% of the course fee paid or due till 1 July 2021
- No refund after 1 July 2021
- Substitutions may be made at any time.