If you have any other questions on IFSTAL, contact your local Education Coordinator

Is my background appropriate for the IFSTAL programme?

A wide range of backgrounds and areas of study are appropriate, in addition to those directly related to ‘food’ per se. Examples include economics, engineering, law, development studies, environmental science, business studies to name but a few. An emphasis within IFSTAL is the use of ‘systems thinking’. This is not a discipline, but a way of thinking about problems that tries to be holistic, focus on interdependencies and dynamics, and the different people involved.

How do I sign up to the IFSTAL programme?

Registration is required in order to be able to access the resources in IFSTAL’s portal (or Virtual Learning Environment, VLE). Contact your local Education Coordinator to sign up.

When should I sign up to the IFSTAL programme by, and when will my membership cease?

To get the most from the programme, you should sign up at the beginning of the academic year but the VLE will be open for enrolment throughout the year. At the end of the academic year you can remain an IFSTAL member if you choose to do so..

What is the structure of the IFSTAL programme?

It runs for the academic year with four online ‘units’ and four corresponding skills or methods-based workshops (two in each of the first two terms) and a public lecture. The portal will provide continuous networking and learning opportunities throughout the year supported by a dedicated Education Coordinator at each location. You can apply to join the summer school at the end of the academic year.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions; the 2020/21 workshops will take place online until it is safe to run them as face-to-face events.

Is there a rigid structure to IFSTAL or can I do this programme at my own pace?

There is no rigid structure to IFSTAL and you can engage to the degree and pace you wish. You will have access to a diverse menu of options and you decide the ingredients of your engagement with IFSTAL.

What sort of time commitment will IFSTAL entail? 

As much as you wish. The minimum engagement will be registering a very basic profile on the IFSTAL portal to help others know who is involved. Each online unit should not take more than an hour to work through, with evening workshops running to about 1.5 hours each. The more you engage, the more you will benefit.

What are the likely career destinations if I participate in the IFSTAL programme?

IFSTAL is designed to offer students not only a wide-ranging overview of food systems but also insights into many types of work where their skills will be particularly beneficial. Such work could include the agri-food industry, policy, development and/or NGO sectors.

How will I be able to interact with other students at the other participating universities?

The four workshops** are highly engaging and interactive, giving participants a chance to work with students from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. The portal also offers a chance to interact through discussion forums and other collaborative activities.

**Due to COVID-19 restrictions; the 2020/21 workshops will take place online until it is possible to run them as face-to-face events. The format remains interactive and collaborative.

How do I apply to the IFSTAL Summer School?

Any student signed up for IFSTAL – with a profile –  is eligible to apply to the summer school. Preference will likely be given to students who have engaged most actively via the portal and other IFSTAL activities throughout the year.

We plan to hold a three-day virtual summer school in July 2021. If funding and COVID-19 allow, this will become a five-day residential event.


What internship opportunities are available through IFSTAL and how can I secure one?

These will be advertised by employers in their normal way but efforts will be made to inform IFSTAL participants of opportunities as they arise. While IFSTAL plays no role in the recruitment process, participation by students in IFSTAL is envisaged to strengthen their chances of securing an internship.

Is IFSTAL a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)?

While sharing some characteristics of a MOOC, IFSTAL is much more than an online course. There will be many opportunities for offline interaction and learning. As it is restricted to students of the five participating institutions, it will offer a much more personal and customised environment than is ever possible on a large MOOC. However, like a MOOC, your level of engagement is entirely up to you though it is hoped that the variety of activities and support of dedicated local staff will overcome some of the barriers to deeper engagement often experienced on MOOCs.

Does participation in IFSTAL contribute to my degree credits?

No. Participation in IFSTAL is purely voluntary and is not assessed in any formal sense. It will however likely improve your CV and internship opportunities.

Will I get a certificate of engagement?

Yes. All students who engage in IFSTAL in a significant way can apply for a certificate, and can add this to their CV.

I am an alumnus/alumna of the programme, how do I stay engaged?

Alumni are more than welcome to stay engaged with IFSTAL. You can retain access to the portal and its resources by re-signing up using a personal email account. Sign-up to our mailing list to receive occasional updates about the programme (including notice of some specific alumni events). Connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter.