Case Studies and Learning Modules

Case Studies and Learning Modules

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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Just Food Educational Resources

Food Justice Learning Modules

The Just Food resource was born from a group of students’ desire to incorporate an equity lens into their learning, and to address the injustice they saw in their daily lives. It consists of learning modules on food systems and a facilitator’s guide. A diverse range of topics are covered, including agriculture, food studies, nutrition, and more.

Check out the student-led resource here.
Facilitator's Guide

Every module is a standalone learning experience, but the Food Justice Primer provides background knowledge. Class time can be used to discuss the pre-readings and for a learning activity.

More info here.
Food Justice Primer

What is food justice? This module provides an introduction to food systems and food movement concepts in relation to systemic and intersecting forms of oppression.

Explore the module here.
Agriculture as a colonial project

How do we understand our relationship to the land and food? This module explores agriculture within the context of Indigenous histories, land ownership and settler colonialism.

Explore the module here.
Diasporic Foodways

How do our identities intertwine with food? This module looks into the complexities of racialized communities around food, land ownership, home-building, and immigration.

Explore the module here.
Migrant Labour

Who are the faces that come to mind when we think about labour and food? This module delves into issues related to systems that produce a disposable, racialized, and migrant workforce.

Explore the module here.
Local Food Movement

Why is there a local food movement and who does it leave out? This module guides us to think critically about the local food movement, who it benefits and excludes, and its potential to transform the food system.

Explore the module here.
Food Systems Governance

What is the role of philanthropy in global agricultural development? This module offers a starting point to study power relations between foundations and governments in developing countries.

Explore the module here.
Gender, Equity and Food Security

How does gender expressions relate to food security? This module unpacks conceptions of food through feminist and queer lenses to challenge the gender binaries that create inequity in the food system.

Explore the module here.