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Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production: Postgraduate Study

Posted in Models, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on August 23rd, 2012

Source: Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)

Applications open for 2012/13

Schumacher College is the first in the world to offer a postgraduate programme in Sustainable Horticulture and Food Production.

The programme has been developed in association with the Centre for Alternative Technology and Plymouth University.  From 2012/13 we are offering a Postgraduate Diploma and a Postgraduate Certificate (subject to final University approval) alongside a part-time and full-time MSc.

Sustainable Horticulture

As global population hits 7 billion in 2011, we urgently need to consider how our food systems will cope in the coming years. Can they produce enough? And are they resilient to an unpredictable climate and reduction in fossil fuels and other high-energy inputs on which they’re currently dependent?

This programme brings together the thinking, research and practice at the cutting-edge of a global food revolution. Drawing from many different projects and schools of thought around the world, and looking at the roles of large scale food production, biotechnology, ‘human scale’ horticulture and botanical diversity, our starting point is natural systems.

How can we work with nature and biological cycles to improve our horticultural production? And how do we do it without increasing environmental degradation, climate change or consumption of finite resources, the pressing questions of our time.

Who is this course for?

This course is for growers, entrepreneurs and leaders who want to progress food systems that are ecologically, socially and financially sustainable.  You will have the opportunity to further develop your technical, strategic, and critical skills and the space to regenerate and hone your passion and creativity for a better world.

We are delighted to receive your applications whether you are coming from an undergraduate degree, taking time-out to study mid-career or wanting an opportunity to retrain in a subject area that is of huge importance to our future resilience and well-being.

We are looking for enthusiastic agents of change who are ready to co-create a new sustainable food system in practice. We are looking for those prepared to take a risk and stand on the cutting-edge of new thinking in this area.

Schumacher College welcomes students from all over the world in its diverse mix of cultural experience and age group which allows for rich peer to peer learning.

Course programme overview

The course format has been designed to allow students to combine postgraduate study at Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate level with work and other commitments.

There are six taught modules between September and April, followed by an 18 week dissertation period. Postgraduate Diploma students to not write up a dissertation, but must complete all six Core Modules including Research Methods. Postgraduate Certificate students take Core Modules 1, 4 and 6 only.

Each module is worth 20 credits and, with the exception of Module 2, are composed of one week reading preparation, two weeks residential at Schumacher College, followed by three weeks for assignments with on-line support. The dates of residency at Schumacher College (or CAT, for Module 2) are shown below.

  • Module 1: 3 – 14 September Plant Science and Botanical Diversity
  • Module 2: 22 – 26 October Food Systems and the Post-Carbon World (CAT)
  • Module 3: 26 November – 7 December Research Methods
  • Module 4: 7 – 18 January Living Systems
  • Module 5: 25 February – 8 March The New Food Economy
  • Module 6: 15 – 26 April Ecological Design and Practice in Horticulture
>>Go to the Schumacher College website to find out more about the course.


Livewell Report: Reducing GHG Emissions, Improving Nutrition

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 18th, 2011

Source: Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)

Macdiarmid J, Kyle J, Horgan G, Loe L, Fyfe C, Johnston A and McNeill G (2011). Livewell – a balance of healthy and sustainable food choices, WWF-UK, Godalming, UK
This review of the report is by Tara Garnett, Food Climate Research Network:

WWF has released its Livewell report, that looks at whether it is possible to eat a diet that is both lower in GHG emissions and more nutritionally balanced than current dietary norms in the UK.  WWF-UK’s One Planet Food Programme (2009-12) has set goals to reduce UK food-consumption related emissions by at least 25% by 2020 and by 70% by 2050, based on 1990 emission levels. The report does three key things:

  • it assesses the current ‘normal’ UK diet against government recommendations with respect to fat, protein, fruit and vegetable intakes, and so forth (the Eatwell plate)
  • it looks at whether it is possible to develop a nutritionally balanced diet which is 25% lower in embedded GHG emissions than the norm today (ie. the 2020 target), and illustrates what this might look like by developing a one-week sample menu
  • it looks at whether it is possible to develop a nutritionally balanced diet which is 70% lower in embedded GHG emissions than the norm today (the 2050 target).

The research was undertaken by the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen. The report’s GHG data is based, with adjustments, on the FCRN-WWF-UK commissioned How low can we go? Report http://www.fcrn.org.uk/fcrnPublications/index.php?id=6#181 but all the nutrition analysis is completely new.

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