IFSTAL comprises a number of different parts, think of them as groups of people and activities.
GROUPS OF PEOPLE
Together these groups make for an interactive community, from different disciplines but with a common interest in bringing together their insights on issues facing the food system.
Academics and Education Coordinators (EC): each university has a lead academic and one or two (where it is a job share) education coordinators. This team develop the curriculum, write ‘unit’ content on the IFSTAL portal, and deliver the yearly IFSTAL programme at their local university. They also look to make relevant research, talks and contacts at each institution more accessible to students from other universities.
Students: any postgraduate student across the participating institution’s departments can get involved, whether that be attending lectures or workshops, away days or the summer school, and engaging in the IFSTAL online portal. In our first year we had over 400 students and staff from across our partner institutions joining IFSTAL. From 2017/18 IFSTAL is now open to undergraduate students on request.
Workplace: workplace partners help us develop our skills-based element – through participating in away days and the summer school, offering dissertation placements and post-graduation internships.
Alumni: this is an important community for IFSTAL as our value lies in those who go out and put into practice all that IFSTAL has taught them, and who take advantage of the community they are now a part of. We have an active LinkedIn network. Alumni can also engage through the IFSTAL portal; we hope to have some back to talk about their experiences of the world of work!
Workshops: Delivered at each university, these will be focussed on a specific method or approach. Students work together in multi-disciplinary groups to learn and reflect on these methods. There are two of these in each of the first two terms. Each of the workshops is linked to an online unit – delivered through the portal – focusing on background theory and knowledge. See here for dates and locations.
Portal: The IFSTAL portal is our programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a platform through which anyone involved in IFSTAL can gain access to our subject units and their associated resources. It is also a means to ‘meet’ and interact with other IFSTAL members through the forums. The portal is accessible to students through their institutional VLE (Weblearn/ Moodle/ Blackboard) by searching for IFSTAL (the university logo links on the portal homepage can take you to your local VLE).
Interactions will include things like discussion forums, presentations with Q&A, blogging, commenting and working together to create new material.
Dissertation opportunities: IFSTAL is working to develop opportunities for dissertation study by seeking organisations who can offer short research projects, or data for analysis.
Summer school: Held annually for a week in June or July, the IFSTAL summer school is open to a small number of students from participating universities, it involves more in-depth engagement with some of the ideas developed in IFSTAL. Real-life challenges and workplace engagement are central, including field trips to local farms, food manufacturers and retailers.
Internship opportunities: IFSTAL has linked up with a number of organisations to help develop post-graduation internship opportunities. While these are not offers exclusive to IFSTAL participants, we hope that by engaging in IFSTAL the chances of securing an internship are improved.