University of Vermont

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Students May Apply This Fall for MS in Food Systems

New Food Systems Masters Degree Approved on Feb. 3

Students will be able to enroll this fall to pursue a master of science degree in food systems that draws from courses throughout the University of Vermont, thanks to approvals on Feb. 3 by UVM's Board of Trustees. The new degree program is the culmination of three years of planning, discussion and agreements. 

“This is a vehicle in which numerous partners … can really engage and put UVM and the state of Vermont in the forefront of how we actually create a change in the local and regional food system,” John Bramley, interim UVM president, said at the board meeting.

Rachel Johnson, Bickford Green and Gold professor of nutrition and food sciences and a member of the program’s steering committee, agreed. “The approval of this masters program is very exciting and puts UVM at the leading edge of the emerging field of food systems,” she said. 

The effort began in 2009 when UVM received a USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant to create the program and gained steam in 2010 when Food Systems was named one of UVM’s Transdisciplinary Research Initiatives (TRI). (UVM identified food systems as one of three key areas of research and investment across its academic and research disciplines. The others are complex systems and neuroscience, behavior and health. 

“I am heartened by the success and send kudos to those who developed it and stuck with it,” said Naomi Fukagawa, co-chair of the food systems steering committee. “And I praise the trustees and administration for understanding the importance of this to UVM, its land-grant status, and the TRI process.” 

The program has already begun the work of connecting with partners outside of the university. Jane Kolodinksy and Amy Trubek, co-authors of the food systems program’s proposal, consulted with more than 400 organizations outside of UVM during the proposal writing process. 

Now that the program has been approved, next steps include accepting students’ applications for the fall 2012 semester and furthering the research. “Now, the real work begins,” Kolodinsky said.

Johnson, Kolodinsky and Trubek are faculty members in UVM's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Fukagawa is a professor in the College of Medicine.

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