Session 1 – Course Introductions


  • In the plenary session, we will review the course objectives and discuss community food security and the transdisciplinary science of sustainable food systems;
  • We will together, facilitate the process of selecting projects by helping you articulate your interests and goals.


After completing this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Articulate the learning objectives and PATHWAY of the course
  • Define Community Food Security and relate it to broader food system concepts, such as global food security, food system sustainability, and food sovereignty
  • Describe key element of the transdisciplinary science of sustainable food systems
  • Identify and integrate personal interests and goals to help select your top 3 preferences for the term's community-based projects

Key Terms + Concepts

  • Community-Based Experiential Learning
  • Community Food Security
  • Transdisciplinary Science of Sustainable Food Systems

Required Readings + Resources

  • Levkoe, C. Z., Andrée, P., Bhatt, V., Brynne, A., Davison, K. M., Kneen, C., & Nelson, E. (2016). Collaboration for Transformation: Community-Campus Engagement for Just and Sustainable Food Systems. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 20(3), 32-61. Retrieved through Canvas or the UBC Library Website.

Community-Based Experiential Learning

LFS 350 is a process-oriented course. You will be introduced to food system concepts in lectures and course readings, but a significant amount of new knowledge and skills will emerge through addressing issues in your collaborative, community-based experiential learning (CBEL) projects. CBEL “is an overarching term that encompasses a number of community-based pedagogical practices and a guiding principle that…provides students with opportunities to apply their academic knowledge to real-world issues” (Centre for Community Engaged Learning, n.d.). CBEL is used as a teaching and learning strategy in LFS 350 to facilitate learning in contexts that mimic the complexity and uncertainty of life. As future professionals in the food system, it is important to have an opportunity to carry out projects in contexts similar to those that you will enter upon graduating from the faculty. By exiting the classroom and engaging with a range of food system practitioners, you will have the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge in a professional setting, challenge prior beliefs and assumptions, and develop underlying skills and competencies that will make you a competitive candidate when pursuing your future career.

Community Food Security

In LFS 250, we focused on both the global contexts of food system sustainability, food security and food sovereignty, and the local manifestations of these theories through our visits to the UBC Farm, Kitzel and Nicomekl dairy farms, and the Vancouver School Board school food systems. In LFS 350, we will continue our discussion of broad global food system theories and issues while engaging more deeply with case studies in our regional context. Throughout the term, we will intentionally shift focus between global and regional, discovering and exploring the common patterns at each scale when trying to articulate, intervene, and evaluate issues.

In LFS 350, we frame our CBEL projects through the theoretical framework of Community Food Security (CFS), which as an extension of food security, can be defined as

  • A situation in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes self-reliance and social justice (Hamm and Bellows, 2003, p.37).

CFS theory is based on the principles of multifunctionality and optimization, recognizing that issues in the food system are interconnected and interdependent. Proposed activities to address issues of CFS take into consideration economic, social, and ecological dimensions. CFS believe that working at the local and regional level is an effective way of addressing systemic issues in the food system due to the human relationships that are sustained in a community, as well as the human-nature relationships that become more visceral at the local and regional level.

Your work on local and regional projects this term will directly affect food-related issues experienced by individuals living in the community. You will gain first hand experience by collaborating with individuals and organizations working to improve aspects of the regional food system. To help us further frame our work in the community in a positive and respectful manner, we adopt an Asset-based Community Development and Food Justice approach to our work in LFS 350, both of which will be expanded upon in our next session.

Transdisciplinarity and Food Systems Science

Francis and colleagues (2011, p. 228) make a useful distinction between multi-, inter- and trans- disciplinary approaches: a multidisciplinary approach “brings together multiple disciplines, but does not guarantee an integration of perspectives or research methods, nor any emergent value of the process”; interdisciplinary approaches address issues single academic disciplines are incapable of managing by allowing for a blending or modifying of approaches to better suit the problem at hand; and, transdisciplinary strategies incorporate non-academic ways of knowing into knowledge generation activities, acknowledging that certain types of issues require engagement beyond narrowly defined expert knowledge.

At the level of interdisciplinarity, “perhaps the most widely recognized reason for such interactions is the need to avoid ‘blind spots’ associated with particular disciplines and professions and to escape their characteristic reductionism in the face of systemic complexity” (Jordan et al., 2008, p. 93). Sustainable food system education (SFSE) programs, such as the Land, Food and Community series in our faculty, frame their curricula in a manner that intentionally integrates the natural and social science dimensions of the food system to inform the study of production, distribution, and consumption (Jacobsen et al., 2012; Jordan et al., 2008).

To extend the reasoning that “everyone is sustained by food, and, in a democratic society, everyone should have a say in food governance”, non-academic ways of knowing should be brought into SFSE curricula (Galt et al., 2012, p. 10). That is, an intentional inclusion of perspectives from farmers, distributors, processors, consumers, politicians, and educators, at all levels in the food system. This provides opportunities for students to interact with diverse stakeholders and “determine a set of goals that will lead to an improved future food system, using social, ecological and economic indicators of sustainability” (Lieblein & Francis, 2007, p. 85). Through this structure of curricula, SFSE programs can bring the voice of the community into the classroom in a manner that frames the interaction as collaborative and reciprocal. Further, SFSE students can participate in a process that co-creates a “socially constructed definition [of sustainable food systems] that evolves as individuals and groups learn to negotiate meanings, power inequalities, and conflicting worldviews” (Parr et al., 2007, p. 530).

Through out the term, you and your group will come into contact with numerous social actors within the food system with knowledge and ways of knowing that complement the academic ways of knowing at UBC. Keep in mind your prior beliefs and assumptions about who "knows" and who holds "reliable" knowledge in the food system. As stated in the report published by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (2015, p. 08), "the knowledge generated and held by farmers, fishers, forest-dwellers, food industry workers, cooperatives, consumer groups, civil society movements, [I]ndigenous populations and a whole range of other practitioners is one of the greatest untapped resources in the quest to reform food systems. What is needed is not merely a transmission of knowledge from scientists to policymakers, but rather a multi-directional flow of knowledge between the worlds of science, policy and practice, with each part of this nexus informed by the other two."

LFS 350 is designed to allow students to address a real-world issue in partnership with community stakeholders, in a manner similar to what is expected of professionals in the food system. We consider this experience a key moment in your development as a future professional within the food system.

(Highly) Recommended Readings - posted in Canvas

  • Hamm, M. and Bellows, A. (2003). Community Food Security and Nutrition Educators. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 35, Issue 1, Pages 37-43.
  • McCullum, C., Desjardins, E., Kraak, V. I., Ladipo, P., & Costello, H. (2005). Evidence-based strategies to build community food security. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(2), 278–283.


  • Francis, C. A., Jordan, N., Porter, P., Breland, T. A., Lieblein, G., Salomonsson, L., … Langer, V. (2011). Innovative Education in Agroecology: Experiential Learning for a Sustainable Agriculture. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 30(1-2), 226–237.
  • Galt, R., Clark, S., & Parr, D. (2012). Engaging Values in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Education: Toward an Explicitly Values-Based Pedagogical Approach. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 43–54.
  • Hamm, M. and Bellows, A. (2003). Community Food Security and Nutrition Educators. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 35, Issue 1, Pages 37-43.
  • Jacobsen, K., Niewolny, K., Schroeder-Moreno, M., Van Horn, M., Harmon, A., Chen Fanslow, Y., … Parr, D. (2012). Sustainable Agriculture Undergraduate Degree Programs: A Land-Grant University Mission. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 13–26.
  • Jordan, N. R., Bawden, R. J., & Bergmann, L. (2008). Pedagogy for Addressing the Worldview Challenge in Sustainable Development of Agriculture. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 37, 92–99.
  • Lieblein, G., & Francis, C. (2007). Towards responsible action through agroecological education. Italian Journal of Agronomy, 2(2), 83–90.
  • Parr, D. M., Trexler, C. J., Khanna, N. R., & Battisti, B. T. (2007). Designing sustainable agriculture education: Academics’ suggestions for an undergraduate curriculum at a land grant university. Agriculture and Human Values, 24(4), 523–533.

Choosing Your Project

In the final hour of the session, we will explore the following:

  • Identifying personal interests and goals
  • Integrating your interests and goals with those expressed in the community projects offered this term.

First, we will be exploring and integrating the Social Change Model of Leadership (Komives and Wagner, 2009) and Simon Sinek's idea of the Golden Circle.

The Social Change Model of Leadership (SCM) is a common framework that is used at UBC, and more broadly across North America. The SCM positions ‘leadership’ as a relational and values-based process emphasizing 7 key values that individuals, groups and communities should be striving towards to achieve positive social change.

Individual Values

  • Consciousness of Self
  • Congruence
  • Commitment

Group Values

  • Collaboration
  • Common Purpose
  • Controversy with Civility

Community Values

  • Citizenship

Supporting this model, Simon Sinek, an inspirational educator and leader on all things ‘leadership’ and collaboration, has further articulated the importance of the notion of self as part of the leadership process in his concept of “the golden circle”. Connecting with WHY is essential to effective collaboration and project outcomes in LFS 350. It is important to start with why; for what purpose, to what end – this allows us to derive meaning from our experience, to learn and to drive us through experiences despite resistance and challenge (which will occur!!). Sinek positions “the WHY” as central to leadership and there are strong connections between the “individual” sphere of the SCM and Sinek’s WHY. There is similarly a strong relationship between Sinek’s “WHY” and the driver of effective collaboration.
  In the remainder of the session, we are going to explore the sphere of SELF and your interests and goals by establishing YOUR WHY and building outwards to explore all aspects of the individual within the SCM and values of consciousness of self, congruence and commitment.

  • Project Selection Surveys (Initial and Final) are available in the Week 1 Module in Canvas.

Additional Material

Our tutorial session is based on the Social Change Model of Leadership. The electronic form of this book is available for free through the UBC Library website.
The description from the UBC Library website: This book offers an approachable student textbook that engages the reader in understanding the nature of social change and the dimensions of leadership that help one become an effective change agent. The text includes case studies, reflection questions, and learning activities to help facilitate engagement with the Social Change Model of Leadership Development that is at the core of the book. Written and edited by some of the country's most recognized and active scholars and educators in student leadership, the book has been field-tested by leadership faculty.