New School News

Mixed Greens: Food and the Environment at Milano

The new Food and the Environment specialization will explore the intersection of food systems, public policy, and sustainability issues embodied by the Union Square Greenmarket. (Copyright Bob Handelman)

For the past few years, something unique has been cooking at The New School. The list of ingredients is long: a new Food Studies program, New Green City classes taught in the Union Square Greenmarket, numerous community-supported agriculture projects linked to the university, and the new interdisciplinary food blog The Inquisitive Eater. It’s a recipe that has made The New School a leader in exploring the connections between food, culture, and politics.

Starting in fall 2012, a new item will be added to the mix: Food and the Environment, a specialization at the Milano School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy.

Food is a critical social, environmental, and economic issue,, says John Clinton, director of the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management program and leader of the new specialization. Clinton notes that the new specialization has a clear goal: to give graduate students the opportunity to better understand and engage with the systemic, practical, and policy dimensions of food production, distribution, and consumption.,

The Food and the Environment focus will be interdisciplinary, drawing on faculty and research across the university. In addition to the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management core curriculum, Food and the Environment students will select from courses like Breaking Barriers: Social Ventures and Food Access, Urban Food Systems, and Social Venture Creation: Transportation and Food Access.

Through these specialized courses, students examine such questions as how major cities like New York meet the daily nutritional and culinary demands of millions,, says Clinton. They investigate the systems, policies, and practices that make this possible on a daily basis, as well as the major shortcomings of prevailing arrangements: where our food comes from, how it reaches us, and what it means to meet people’s appetites.,

One of these students is Annie Moss, who is in her final semester of study at Milano and has worked on food education since coming to New York in 2008. So many faculty members have valuable experience in food, people like Nevin Cohen [director of the Tishman Environment and Design Center] and Kristin Reynolds [Mellon postdoctoral fellow in environmental studies]., Food and the Environment students will also have access to Food Studies director Fabio Parasecoli and other New School food experts.

Many Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management students would agree that the topic is a natural fit for Milano. Moss notes that even courses that don’t directly relate to food can deepen exploration of the topic. A big part of the Environmental Policy program, and of Milano in general, is developing a sense of social justice and structural inequality,, says Moss, who also helps lead La Finca del Sur, a woman-run urban farm project in the South Bronx. We learn how to look at social issues at a systemic level, rather than just at the granular level of policy. And that skill can be applied to any subject at all.,

To learn more about the Food and the Environment specialization, visit the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management website.

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