In 2016, a few majors emerged that emphasized the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s attitude towards the importance of sustainability. Three new majors were implemented: a bachelor’s degree in sustainable food and nutrition, a masters program in sustainable and resilient food systems and an educational doctorate degree in educational sustainability.
Jasia Steinmetz, professor in the School of Health Promotion and Human Development, is the coordinator of the M.S. in sustainable and resilient food systems. Steinmetz explained that climate change caused a change of resources.
World wide, there has been a decline in soil and water quantity and quality. Richer countries have a much bigger water and carbon footprint than poorer countries. Stienmetz said that with climate change, these lower income countries will be affected by sea level rise and the richer countries will want the crops they grow to feed their populations. In addition, the rich countries have bigger footprints that cause shortages in these poorer countries . The lower income countries will want support, financial and other from the richer countries. They are experiencing lows yet those countries are not responsible for them.
The country Bangladesh, for example, is experiencing higher sea levels and the fishermen are not able to fish. The ocean rising overtook fresh water with salt water and it effected everything. Part of the lands were described as “Swiss cheese.” However, the bigger problem is the amount of people becoming climate refugees.
The new programs at UWSP aim to tackle many of these issues seen around the globe.
One such topic is the production of food and non processed foods such as locally grown vegetables. Ideally, students will learn from a system level to look at agriculture, ecology, social, cultures and understand how all that works together because everything is connected.
There is now both undergraduate and graduate programs for the food systems major. Sustainable food and nutrition students will become nutrition educators at the end of this degree.
Emily Szmanda, senior food and nutrition major, was eager to share her experience of becoming involved.
“I hope to make the environmental eating accessible to everyone and at the same time do something about the social injustice ingrained in our current food system,” Szmanda said.
In her junior year, Szmanda took Ecology of Foods, taught by Steinmetz, and said it changed her outlook on life.
“I think it’s so important to keep the integrity of food intact especially in a society where convenience foods are at our fingertips,” Szmanda said.