COVID-19 is changing our appreciation for essential services including healthcare workers, first responders, and everyone involved in the food industry. Every day we see headline stories about vulnerabilities in our agri-food system: stock-piles of Kraft dinner, stranded migrant workers, closed meat-packing plants, over-stressed food banks, and unemployed restaurant servers.
This timely certificate course was designed to help participants to process and interpret all of that information through the lens of agricultural economics. Drawing upon information from around the world, we considered the links between COVID-19 and our agri-food system, both the direct links between the disease and the food system, and the indirect links between our risk management behavior and the food system.
We regarded the agri-food system in its entirety, from farmers’ access to inputs, disrupted value chains, and shifts in what we eat, and where we eat it. We offered a balance between information about issues most relevant to Canada and from contrasting environments around the world. We are all linked through global food markets, the policies that shape those markets will determine our collective well-being over the coming months and years.
We ran this course as a linked set of six virtual meetings on Zoom, starting on Tuesday May 19th and concluding on Thursday June 4th. Each session lasted 80 minutes, with 45 minutes of presentation and 25 minutes of discussion. Video of these sessions will be available shortly.
Participants were able to access a base of reference material and invited to participate in online discussion forum for the three weeks of the course. Registrants who completed all six modules received a Certificate of Completion through the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology.
Most presenters are professors in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociologyat theUniversity of Alberta, with guest speakers from Arizona State University, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre and the International Food Policy Research Institute.
This is a topic of very general interest, and all registrants were welcome. Course content was of particular interest to undergraduate and graduate students, professionals working the agri-food system, and the concerned public. We welcomed participants from around the world with more than 1,200 individual registrations from 35 countries.