Focus on Food Systems Leadership

Focus on Food Systems Leadership can be taken as a stand alone program or part of the Food Systems Leadership Certificate Program. 

About Focus on…

Everyone eats and everyone wants access to sufficient quantities of affordable, healthy and nutritious food to support their lifestyle. 

Food safety, food defense, food security, nutritional security, obesity and sustainability all are grand challenges associated with food systems. The production, processing, manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of food also involves social and economic issues like gender justice, equitable communities, land reform, international development and poverty alleviation.


This 5-day skills-based course will introduce participants to select integrative leadership strategies useful in addressing the global grand challenges using examples of food systems grand challenges. Specifically, we will focus on leadership practices that foster collective action across diverse groups of people, including:

  • Hosting dialogue, debate and deliberation;
  • Mapping polarities and balancing paradox;
  • Designing inclusive decision-making processes.

Who Should Attend

  • Graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and upper level undergraduates
  • Faculty and Educators
  • Minnesota legislative staff and government agency officials
  • Producer and Industry professionals


  • Program will be available for both Professional Development, at a cost of $1365.00 and
  • Graduate academic credit: Leadership to Address Global Grand Challenges, 1.5 credit course is cross listed as PVS 5998 and HSPA 5152 

Check out the following video to see one previous participant's experience with the Food Systems Leadership program. 


In the course you learn how to be a leader in an area that is sacred, culturally sensitive, and essential to every human being: Food.
-Ryan Merry, 2016-2017 Global Food Venture Fellow

"From the leadership course I learned effective ways of bringing people together to tackle problems that are to great to be solved by one person or even with one solution.  A major part of this course is learning that these ‘Grand Challenges’ are numerous in our world, and it takes a new kind of leader to address them.  In the course you learn how to be a leader in an area that is sacred, culturally sensitive, and essential to every human being: Food.  From the short week I learned how crucial it is to be human and listen when working with a grand challenge.  Taking this course is beyond recommended for anyone that would like to work in a food related industry.  People care about what they eat and drink in a very interesting way that is nearly impossible to wrap one’s mind around.  By taking this course you will learn how to be a leader and solve problems for even the grandest of challenges." -- Ryan Merry

Food Systems Leadership Certificate

Food systems encompass all processes and policies around food from farm to fork. Commodity organizations, food companies, and government agencies want employees whose disciplinary expertise is matched by a broad understanding of food systems and critical skills for working in interdisciplinary teams dealing with complex challenges. 

The Food Systems Leadership Certificate was designed to give participants the broad food systems understanding that employers want. Three week-long intensive sessions focusing on the production, policy and protection of food make up the certificate. Courses will be taught an interdisciplinary teams of faculty from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the School of Public Health. 

Completing the certificate program with a cohort of working professionals and graduate students from other disciplines will increase your career  opportunities, and expand your network among potential employers, campus faculty and grad students. 

Food Systems Leadership Certificate FAQ

  • Focus on Food Production, August 28-September 1, 2017
  • Focus on Food Systems Leadership, January 8-12, 2018
  • Focus on Food Policy & Protection, May 21-25, 2018 

Focus on Food Systems Leadership

January 8-12, 2018

Professional Development - Opening November 2017
Academic Credit - Opening November 2017

Contact us:
Sarah Summerbell

  • At work on small group assignments

  • Group discussion

  • At work on small team assignments

  • Participants group activity.