The FIT4FOOD2030 City and Food Labs bring together policy makers, researchers, educators and citizens from all walks of life, to work on their visions of FOOD 2030, and consider concrete actions on how Research and Innovation can help to bring their cities and regions closer to this objective. An important objective is to develop and pilot hands-on (in)formal training for students, researchers and professionals to develop the competences needed to carry out food system transformation.

15 new hands-on educational modules on food system RRI – to get inspired or implement

By now, the Labs have already organised various workshops to create a vision of their aspired food system; the results of these exercises reflect well the diversity of each of these new communities. With their visions in mind, the Labs have started collecting and analysing local best practices and identified needs for competence building. Based on these insights, they have successfully developed and tested 15 transformative, hands-on, future-oriented educational modules. The aim of these modules was to foster multi-stakeholder engagement, critical thinking, collaborative learning skills and transdisciplinary approaches to food systems learning. All these new modules focus on food system Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), tackling one or several priorities of Food 2030.

Each City Lab chose its target audience, learning approach and topic based on their area of expertise and the needs of their local communities. This resulted in a very diverse range of self-standing modules of study or training, which can also be combined to build up a programme of activities.

The City Lab Amsterdam proposed a course for Bachelor- and Master-level students, to develop skills for an inter- and trans-disciplinary research approach to food and nutrition security challenges. The City Lab Athens targeted students by organising an interdisciplinary after-school project for high school students – who set up a social enterprise and developed a product to tackle a societal challenge from a food and nutrition security perspective, in collaboration with external stakeholders (see picture below)  – and a classroom course about food waste for secondary school students.

Students from City Lab Athens present their grEATboxes at Athens mall

The City Lab Milan aimed to involve citizens in the redistribution of food as well as raise awareness about the issue of food waste and the nutritional value of recovered food (see the picture below).  Their Lab also wished to stimulate visions of the future with an activity dedicated to novel foods. The City Lab Tartu also proposed short hands-on activities to families and students of different ages, using practical tasks to tackle subjects such as dietary shifts towards alternative proteins, food packaging and food preservation.

The experimental activity on the nutritional value of the food that would have become food waste, organised by the City Lab Milan

The City Lab Sofia worked on short school courses for primary and secondary school children about food, and nutrition.  They also targeted professionals in another learning module, inviting journalists and other food system actors to participate in trainings about specific features of the food system in Bulgaria. The City Lab Barcelona focused on workshop methodologies allowing diverse groups of stakeholders to think about ways to change the food system in a systemic and transdisciplinary way, build common visions and sketch action plans. Last, system thinking for food system sustainability was the angle of the online courses and in-person workshops organised by the City Lab Budapest, which attracted professionals, adults from different backgrounds and university students.

Are you interested in shaping competences for food system transformation?

If you are interested in starting a discussion about food systems in your local context, the educational modules developed by the City Labs may be a great source of inspiration or even ready-to-use tools. These tools are currently being finalised for publication. They will be part of the FIT4FOOD2030 website’s database with tools for transformation, which will be the focus of our next newsletter. If you have any queries related to the learning modules developed by the City Labs, you can contact Cristina Paca.

What’s next?

Further module development is expected to take place in 2020, with citizen science modules and master classes for professionals being considered for development. When available, more information on these developments will be shared through this newsletter.

What are City Labs exactly?

In need of a refresher regarding the aim and activities of City Labs? Have a look at this short, fun and informative video describing city labs!