New open online course: Engaging with controversies in the food system

Date: 28th August 2019

The School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading, EIT Food, the University of Turin and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) have pooled their expertise to create a FREE, online course called: "Engaging with Controversies in the Food System", that will launch on Monday 4th November 2019.foodcontroversiesrezised2

The three week course, led by Lead Educator, Andrew Ainslie, is designed to help consumers and those working in food industry to explore and understand the context and numerous different perspectives that sit behind food controversies.

Talking about the course Andrew said: "Our aim is to introduce people to some of the key controversies that surround food today, providing them with insights that will challenge their previous conceptions of food, its provenance and its human and environmental costs and enable them to apply more critical thinking to their food choices in future."

Topics covered:

Week 1: Alternative proteins, including insects, algae, lab-grown, soya

Week 2: The widespread use of Palm Oil

Week 3: Debates about Probiotics

He continued: "Learners completing the course will be better informed about the complex nature of the food system and will be able to analyse these three controversial topics and other trade-offs through measured, rational and balanced consideration of a range of factors. In fact, the course is designed to increase learners' ability to make informed choices about all the food they eat and to become agents of change by better understanding the issues, arguing for or against certain practises, and perhaps using their new insights to help educate family, friends and even work colleagues on the issues covered in the course."

The University of Reading has extensive experience of designing, developing and producing successful Open Online Courses (OOC) with a dedicated Online Courses team that has created 19 MOOCS and 1 Small Private Online Course (SPOC) for the FutureLearn Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Since starting with a handful of courses in 2013, courses developed at the University of Reading have attracted more than 880,000 learners from 190 different countries, and we continue to undertake high quality research across the food chain from primary production, processing, food nutrition through to consumer behaviour and marketing sectors. Many of these research outputs provide case studies and other specialist educational materials for the Open Online Courses (OOC).

"Engaging with Controversies in the Food System" is funded by EIT Food ( and forms part of their range of novel educational activities including workshops, summer schools and online educational programmes for a wide audience including students, entrepreneurs and food professionals. See more here:

Click here for further information and to register for the course

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