The IFSTAL Summer School is the culmination of the IFSTAL year. Over the course of the year, students have the chance to meet and interact in a range of lectures, post-lecture activities, workshops, away days and on the online virtual learning environment. The Summer School is a week-long, fully funded residential event which is designed to build on these activities and interactions, consolidating food systems knowledge and enhanced policy understanding, and further developing skills in systems thinking, communicating complexity and presentation techniques. It offers an exciting programme of theory and practice with a great opportunity for active participation aimed at helping develop capacity to bring about positive change in the food system workplace.

Summer School 2017


The 2017 Summer School took place at the University of Warwick – 2nd to 7th July 2017.

Activities included:

  • learning about food systems and developing related skills for your future career;
  • meeting a range of people (and potential employers) from the workplace;
  • gaining practical skills through interactive and engaging activities;
  • field trips to local food organisations and businesses;
  • working on real life team projects set by the workplace; and
  • all delivered by distinguished speakers and academics from a range of organisations.

Find out more in the official programme, on our blog, or by contacting your local Education Coordinator.



Summer School 2016

The 2016 IFSTAL Summer School was held at the University of Reading from the 3rd to the 8th July 2016. Over 30 participants took part in a varied programme which included workplace skills development, presentations and discussions, meeting and networking with fellow students and food sector professionals, learning about systems thinking and taking part in field trips.

Overview of the week

The IFSTAL Summer School ran from the early evening of Sunday 3rd July through to the afternoon of Friday the 8th of July, and took place at Reading University. Thirty students participated in an engaging week of workshops, talks, field trips and presentations.

Day one saw participants learning from Professor Gerald Midgely, Professor of Systems Thinking at Hull University. Professor Midgely is widely published in the field of soft systems, and we enjoyed a lecture and workshop on the history of systems thinking and exploring ways of mapping and analysing a food system problem.

The second day focussed on communication and how we do this with complex issues. Here we had Andy Ridway from the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England, come and deliver a workshop. This was followed by shorter talks from three food system practitioners working on communicating to different audiences – Oxfam’s supporters and policy maker audiences; multiple national agricultural policy communities; and sugar supply chains.

On the third day we got out and about, visiting farms, retailers and a food waste processing facility. Students got to meet practitioners in their place of work and apply and interrogate some of the ideas learnt in the summer school and on their courses.

Day four involved applying some of the skills learnt over the summer school in a workshop led by Professor Tim Lang on policy briefings. This was structured around policy issues introduced by NGO, government and development practitioners. In the evening we celebrated the summer school with a formal dinner.

The final day saw groups of students present their summer school project and receive detailed feedback on this. These projects were set by our visiting practitioners and represented real world problems facing organisations and individuals working in the food system. We topped off the summer school with a talk from Guy Watson, Founder and Director of Riverford Organic Farmers.

Download the Summer School 2016 programme.