Course code:



M - Intermediate

Class size limit:


Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Every other year

College of the Atlantic consistently tops the lists of “best college food” in the country. But what are the elements that make up our campus food system? Where does COA’s food come from; under what conditions is it produced, transported, and prepared; and who is involved in this complex system? This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze local food systems, beginning right here at COA. In collaboration with COA’s kitchen and farm managers, vendors, and food systems faculty, students will hone their qualitative and quantitative research skills while exploring questions such as: What are the impacts of the food purchasing and consumption decisions we make at COA? What would it take to transition to a sustainable regional diet, and how could we do that while being sensitive to individuals’ food needs and diets? How do formal and informal policies shape our dining decisions? By examining our campus food system through a human ecological lens, students will develop their own set of standards for assessing the sustainability and quality of campus food and develop a vision and set of recommendations for increasing the social and environmental sustainability of our campus food system. At the end of the course they will identify actionable items to move COA towards our food vision and identify key actors to see those actions through to fruition. The final critique of the course will address how food systems analysis can be an effective tool for resistance and social change, providing a basis for increasing local food production and security on Mount Desert Island, in Hancock County, and throughout Maine. Students will be evaluated based on: participation in data collection activities; a final assessment for the Food Systems Working Group, to be posted on the website; and a presentation to the larger community.


Must have knowledge of food systems and some prior experience with qualitative or quantitative methods. Prior to enrollment, students are strongly encouraged to discuss prerequisites with the instructors.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.