ESM 595AL / CS 595J: Seminar 2021

Sustainable Food Systems

Seminar Overview

An interdisciplinary seminar focusing on sustainable food systems research from a variety of disciplinary and cross-cutting perspectives. Students critically read papers prior to the bi-weekly seminar and engage actively with the speaker. Speakers rotate each meeting of the class and include UCSB faculty, other UC faculty (remote seminars), and senior PhD students.



  • Tuesday (every other week starting Jan 12, 2021) at 1-2:15pm PST
  • Zoom (see gauchoshpace or contact instructors for link)
  • Website

Course Objectives

  1. Gain breadth in food systems research
  2. Critically engage with multi-disciplinary speakers
  3. Identify key unresolved questions in Sustainable Food Systems

Course Structure

The research seminar will occur every other week. Most meetings will include a speaker from UCSB, who will provide a short (20-30m) introduction to and/or illustration of their work, methods, and the big questions in their field. This will be followed by discussion. Most weeks will include 1-2 papers shared by the speaker or professors that provide context or are illustrative of a debate. Students are expected to read the papers beforehand and critically engage with the speaker and each other.

In rare cases when we don't have a speaker, we will discuss critical gaps in environmental aspects of sustainable food systems such as land sparing/sharing, precision agriculture and technology, diets, food waste, aquaculture, local food, organic, GMOs etc. These weeks will include approximately 2 papers to frame the discussion. Students are encouraged to suggest topics (and key papers).

Attendance and Participation

A research seminar thrives on participation! Please be on time and prepared. Please engage with the speakers—listen actively, contribute constructively but do not dominate discussions. Please attend all sessions. The purpose is to interact with scholars from other fields and with other points of view.


Grading will be based primarily on attendance and participation. Additionally, students are asked to keep notes each week. Notes should include constructive comments and ideas for future directions, similar to a short, constructive peer-review. Notes may be checked and may be shared with the speaker.