Food Systems Case Studies

Food Systems Case Studies

Sustainable Food Systems on Campus: Case Studies

Sustainability education seeks to help students think critically and creatively by using a diverse set of problem-solving, systems-thinking and implementation skills. Experiential learning activities, by making deliberate use of social and physical contexts beyond the lecture hall, directly engage students with the physical infrastructure and social influences that shape food systems and sustainability. Students are also exposed to diverse professional cultures in action, demonstrating the expectations and standards of conduct in the field or community setting.


The study of food systems and sustainability are both supported by and provide key contexts for experiential learning as they both depend on multi/inter- and trans-disciplinary cooperation, and address a complex set of factors and processes affecting people, businesses, and environments, while incorporating theoretical and methodological perspectives from a diversity of academic fields.


The Centre for Sustainable Food Systems Teaching & Learning team works in collaboration with instructors and students throughout UBC to develop open educational resources, including “case studies” that can be adapted to any discipline, by anyone at UBC or elsewhere. Each case study provides an experiential and place-based learning opportunity by exploring and understanding a food system asset at UBC. A food asset is a place where people can grow, prepare, share, buy, receive and learn about food or a resource, facility, service that strengthen the local food system.


Within these case studies, students and instructors can find a general introduction to a food system topic as well as inter-disciplinary pathways to explore and adapt to course learning outcomes and student fields of interest. The case studies are Open Education Resources (OER) under Creative Commons. Instructors, visit the Teaching Guide. Students and instructors, explore the Open Educational Resources tab to learn about benefits of OER.


The Sustainable Food Systems on Campus Case Studies were developed by the Centre For Sustainable Food Systems Teaching and Learning Committee, with the support of the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, and UBC Information Technology.

Case Studies

Explore the multi-functionality of urban agriculture on university campuses

Visit the Alma Mater Society Roots on the Roof, rooftop garden on the top of the AMS Student the Nest at UBC Vancouver and explore topics including: Built Environment and Community Engagement, Garden-Based Art, Entomology, and Engineering and Design.

Explore the case study here.

Investigate Plants on UBC Campus

Sometimes innovation and inspiration can be found in everyday objects that are all around us and hidden in plain sight. Engage your class with topics including: Landscaping, Design, and Ethnobotany, Governance and Ethics, and Medicinal Ethnobotany.

Explore the case study here.
Demonstrating sustainable design approaches, measures, and practices and the UBC Farm

Contextualize green technologies and their implementation by looking at the UBC Farm as a human ecosystem. Use various models, approaches and frameworks for investigating the various pillars of sustainability.

Explore the case study here.
How does dining atmosphere design impact food choices?

Does the location in which you eat influence your dietary choices and food preferences? Often, much attention is directed towards changing individual eating habits to develop healthier and more sustainable food systems; but what would happen if we shifted our attention to the environments in which we access food?

Explore the case study here.
Examine issues related to Indigenous food sovereignty

Investigate the colonialization and transformation of traditional regional food systems, land rights and access, and pathways to decolonizing research and relationships. Learn to identify and understand the tensions, contradictions, and challenging ways forward towards better understanding Indigenous people’s food systems, and how they interface with other expressions of food systems in mainstream culture.

Explore the case study here.