Teaching Food Sustainability in Switzerland – transdisciplinary teaching in practice

Stephan Rist, CDE University of Bern
Karl Herweg, CDE University of Bern
A transdisciplinary course of the Institute of Geography of the University of Bern.

In this course of four days students are guided in a practical way, through the main phases of a transdisciplinary process for the assessment of the sustainability of food systems.

In a first step students learn how to assess key features of qualities of fields, pastures and soil in forests, and their integration into the wider landscape, in view of ecological sustainability. Step two presents how students learn to know, in direct interaction and through semi-structured interviews, about the main features of the livelihood system, related to their farms, and the links with these farms have, with the wider food system. Additionally, the understandings of farmers views on sustainability, and related basic values of the nature-society relationships, are reconstructed in practice.
In a third step we show how the ecological and socio-economic dimensions of assessment can be integrated in view of a comprehensive and integrative sustainability assessment of food systems.

This example gives a lot of practical insights, on how methods are shaped to be used in order to allow students getting a view on transdisciplinarity and sustainability with the “hands in the soil and the heads in the air of critical reflection”.

Need more information? Don’t hesitate to contact Stephan Rist and Karl Herweg directly!

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Teaching Food Sustainability in Switzerland – transdisciplinary teaching in practice