The Sustainable Food Economy Lab offers learning opportunities on a variety of sustainable food economy topics through courses, trainings, academic thesis projects, and educational field trips.
Most topics we teach are rarely found in business, management, or sustainability curricula. Many people and students are frustrated about the unsustainable development of food systems and the economy. Unfortunately, far more attention is given to the existing problems than to the available solutions and approaches to develop such solutions. Our Lab goes beyond the conventional problem-centric education and focuses on economically viable, environmentally friendly, and socially/culturally just solutions. We enable and motivate our students to participate in constructively and critically developing sustainable food economy solutions.
We adopt an empowering approach to build capacity in sustainability competencies for collective problem-solving. These competencies combine holistic system thinking, constructive future thinking, pluralistic value thinking, action-oriented strategic thinking, and implementation competence. We also offer training in professional skills, such as managing projects, working in (international) teams, and collaborating with stakeholders across the food economy, including businesses, policy makers, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and others.
For building these competencies, we primarily use progressive, project-based, and transdisciplinary teaching and learning formats. Studies have shown that progressive teaching models facilitate deep learning by guiding students from knowledge acquisition and transfer through practical experience to their own applications and experiments. Project-based learning also allows students to apply and refine their professional skills in project management, teamwork, stakeholder engagement, and so forth. Transdisciplinary courses enable students to deal constructively and critically with real-world sustainability problems and solutions in the food economy, and to gain valuable professional experiences in working with businesses, government agencies, and other stakeholder groups.
We are engaged in regular academic programs but also offer non-degree and informal learning opportunities. For instance, we helped design and deliver the Sustainable Cooperative Food Business Training Program led by Thrive Consultancy. We also led the sustainability training in Arizona State University’s Prepped Program for small food businesses.
Facets of our teaching approach are discussed in our Publications (second to last section).
University of Freiburg: Sustainable Food Systems
Summer 2023: Sustainable Food Consumption – Course with guest speakers and field trips; for graduate and undergraduate students (Co-instructor: Prof. Dr. Joerg Lindenmeier)
Summer 2022: Sustainable Food System – Course with guest speakers and field trips; for graduate and undergraduate students (Lead: Prof. Dr. Joerg Lindenmeier)
Arizona State University: Sustainable Food Economy
Spring 2023: Sustainable Food Economy – Hybrid course with project on developing a sustainable food business hub for Tempe
Spring 2020: Sustainable Food Economy – Hybrid course with projects on B Corp certification for a food SME (Tempe), local sourcing strategy for a food SME (Phoenix), strategy for a land trust for an regenerative urban farm (Phoenix), role of the city in strengthening the sustainable local food economy (Tempe), business plan for a sustainable non-alcoholic beverage SME (Phoenix); for graduate and undergraduate students; in-person and online (due to COVID-19)
Spring 2019: Sustainable Practices in Artisan Bakeries – Course with project elements for undergraduate students
Spring 2018: Business Plan Development for a Sustainable Bakery Cooperative – Project course for graduate students. Business Plan
ASU & Leuphana University: Global Sustainability Research Course on Sustainable Food Entrepreneurship
Fall 2020: Sustainability in the Craft Brewing Economy in Arizona
Fall 2018: Sustainability Training Program for Small Food Businesses in Arizona
Summer 2018: Sustainable Workforce Development at the Bohlsener Mühle. Report
Fall 2017: Capacity Building for the Sustainable Food Economy in Tempe, Arizona
Sustainable Cooperative Food Business Development Training Program for Entrepreneurs (3 cohorts). In Cooperation with Thrive Consultancy, Phoenix. Funded by the City of Phoenix. 2021-2022. Report
Sustainable Business Practices for Small Food Businesses (3 cohorts). Prepped Program, Arizona State University. 2018-2019. LINK
Stefanie Albrecht (2017–2022). Initiating and Planning Sustainable Food Forests. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Arizona State University and Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Publications
Hanna Weber (2017–2021). Transforming the International Food Supply – Sustainable Practices in Small Intermediary Businesses. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Arizona State University and Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Publications
Tamsin Foucrier (2015–2020). Preparing Future Sustainability Entrepreneurs – Designing, Implementing, and Assessing Learning Environments. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Arizona State University and Leuphana University of Lüneburg. Publication
Annelie Plachetka (2023, ongoing): Building an Evidence-based Strategy for the Produce Wholesale Market Freiburg. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg.
Sophia McRae (2023, ongoing): Analyzing and Assessing the Sustainability of Produce Wholesale Market Freiburg. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg.
Lucía Gascón (2022). Towards a Sustainable Development of the Food Processing Sector in the Freiburg Region. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg.
Paula Pinto Zambrano (2022). Assessing the Sustainability of Student Food Services/Canteens – the Case of the Studierendenwerk Freiburg-Schwarzwald. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg.
Sophia Schroeder (2021). A Sustainability Training Program for the Workforce of the Bohlsener Mühle. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Arizona State University. Publication
Allison Buchanan (2021). Supporting Sinagua Malt in Advancing their Sustainability Leadership Role in the Craft Brewing Economy in Arizona. School of Sustainability, Arizona State University.
Madeline Mercer (2021). Creating a Sustainable Cooperative Grocery Business at a University Campus. School of Sustainability, Arizona State University.
Bruna Carvalho (2020) Anchoring Sustainability in SMEs through B Corp Certification, Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Arizona State University. Publication
Nick Shivka (2020). Developing a Concept for a Sustainable Beverage Business in Phoenix. School of Sustainability, Arizona State University.
Eric Johnson (2017). Transferring Concepts of Sustainable Regional Food Economies – A Case Study from Germany and the U.S. Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural Transformation, Leuphana University of Lüneburg and Arizona State University.
Emmanuel Klassnitz (2023, ongoing). Assessing the Sustainability of Supply and Value Chains for Sunflower Oil in the Upper-Rhine Region. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg.
Katharina Greulich (2022). Assessing the Sustainability of Public Canteens in the Freiburg Region. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg.
Educational Field Trips
Gemüsebau Huber, SoLaWi Solarie, Regionalwert-Biomarkt
Hüsemer Genusswerkstatt – Café de la Vida
Lab field trip to meet with the Mayor and a Community Council member of Rheinhausen and discuss their recently opened “Genusswerkstatt,” which houses an oil mill, coffee roaster, cafe, and storefront selling regional (organic) products.
Eichstetten am Kaiserstuhl, Baden-Württemberg
Field trip as a part of the seminar on the sustainable regional food economy in the Freiburg Region (held at the University of Freiburg). Students and lab members visited the organic wholesaler Rinklin Naturkost in Eichstetten am Kaiserstuhl. The group toured the facilities and participated in a discussion on the regional organic market with one of Rinklin’s Operating Officers.
Sinagua Malt, Hauser & Hauser Farms, BiGa Restaurant, Whipstone Farm
Verde Valley & Prescott Area, Arizona
BKW Farms, Barrio Bread, Borderlands Brewing Company, Savaya Coffee, Five Points Market & Café, Pivot Produce, The Tasteful Kitchen
Hayden Flour Mills & Sossaman Farms
Queen Creek, Arizona
Bohlsen, Lower Saxony
Arizmendi Bakeries, Clif Bar, Sweet Earth Foods, Newleaf, La Cocina, RSF Social Finance, City and County of San Francisco (Planning Department), The Sustainable Economies Law Center
San Francisco Bay Area, California