A very happy New Year to the IFSTAL community!
Over the course of this academic year participants have had the opportunity to engage with the online Portal, attend face-to-face workshops on methods used in food systems work, attend Away Days with the wider IFSTAL cohort, and listen in to an exploration of the feasibility of sustainable diets at the Public Lecture.
This is an excellent time to revisit the Journey Document and reflect on progress made towards becoming a reflective practitioner, and seeing if there are any actions that need follow-up at this time of the year. It is a useful tool for mapping the IFSTAL journey throughout the academic year, summarizing key learnings from each event, and keeping track of actions and reflections arising from each. Finally, it is also an excellent resource for compiling applications for the Summer School, applying for the IFSTAL certificate, and eventually using it as a workbook of evidence for further certifications.
This term, IFSTAL participants have a range of activities to look forward to:
The Symposium on the 27th of January taking place at the Cass Business School at City University will explore food systems in changing trade landscapes. Students will have the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders in the food-and-trade field. Organizations represented include Sustain, the Food and Drink Federation, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), and WWF.
IFSTAL students can then explore Units 3 and 4, which are focused on principles underlying food systems methods and transformations before attending the workshops at their home institutions. The workshops continue on the theme of exploring food systems methods and analysing their usefulness in various contexts.
The Away Day at Warwick on the 3rd of March will focus on working within multi-stakeholder teams to drive change in a systems environment. This will be an excellent time to draw on the communication skills learned in the first Away Day of the year and the past workshops. This Away Day is another chance to have detailed face-to-face surgeries with selected workplace partners and meet with the broader IFSTAL cohort.
The IFSTAL academic year will close with the Summer School – a week designed to build on the activities and engagement with the program during the year (updates from the 2017 Summer School can be viewed here). The Summer School will consolidate food system knowledge and enhanced policy understanding, and further develop skills in systems thinking, communicating complexity, and presentation techniques. It will also give important insights to help shape future employment and career. Perhaps most importantly – the Summer School is a highly immersive, fantastically multi-disciplinary environment, where participants can meet with and challenge each other on vital food issues.
Blog by Saher Hasnain, IFSTAL Education Coordinator, University of Oxford