Germany, Emmendingen (near Freiburg)

The Future of Sustainable Food Business

when 31 July 2016 - 15 August 2016
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 5 ECTS
fee EUR 1300

International Summer University 2016
by German Society for Human Ecology (DGH) in cooperation with the College of the Atlantic (COA), USA

An ambitious program for gap year students and freshmen

The Summer University on the Future of Sustainable Food Business will address controversial questions regarding our food system, its sustainability, and innovative concepts in sustainable business to realize changes. It will challenge students to bring the discussion on sustainability into practice through real‐world case scenarios with local partners in Emmendingen. Students will develop skills for a needed local and global transition to a sustainable food system. The content of the Summer University is relevant to both nations of the Global South and to industrialized countries. Students from different regions of the world will have ample opportunity to share their experiences from their diverse cultural perspectives.

The town of Emmendingen

Emmendingen is a town near Freiburg im Breisgau. The Freiburg region represents the origin of the environmental movement in Germany. Not surprisingly, the region offers a variety of links to the program, including a long tradition of exceptionally
high‐quality food production. It is a hotspot of biodynamic agriculture – the Demeter Movement. There is also an investigation into the possibility of urban roof farming on factory buildings at the Wehrle‐Werk AG, an industrial center for energy and environmental technology that has hospitably opened an extra office building for our working space.
The tiny exclusive Art‐Hotel Markgraf offers a welcoming place to stay. Local business and organizations have offered to support as partners. They represent diverse areas of the food system, ranging from organic and biodynamic
farming, food production and distribution, to local food business investment, gleaning food ‘waste’, and the slow food movement.

Course leader

The German Society for Human Ecology (DGH), founded in 1975, has had sustainable education on its agenda since the very beginning. In 2006 its Committee for a European College of Human Ecology was established to explore possibilities of founding a liberal

Target group

The two‐week program is open to rising high school seniors or graduates, International Baccalaureate students from schools like the United World Colleges (UWC) and undergraduate students with a high degree of motivation and social engagement, as well as satisfactory academic performance. They are
expected to have a strong interest in the topic of sustainability. Very good English language skills are required. German language skills are an asset but not essential. The number of participants is limited to 20.

Information about the application procedure as well as the application form is available on our website www.coh‐

Course aim

Sustainable food entrepreneurs are at the forefront of changes and challenges in the food system. Such enterprises take advantage of the value squandered by the linear industrial economy. They are redefining farming, production, distribution, consumption, and food waste as a resource. Students will be introduced
to new frameworks in sustainable business, human ecology, and food systems, as well as concepts in meal cultures, power dynamics, and community food assessment. Students will be exposed to relevant subject matter, theoretical concepts, and practical skills in a Real World Lab, with emphasis on practical learning through a transdisciplinary group project in the open ambience of a Charrette in the heart of Emmendingen.

After visiting local food systems partners, students will divide themselves into groups of three to four in order to investigate and address a self‐chosen problem together with one partner business or organization. Each group will analyze the unique challenges of their partner and will evaluate the potential to incorporate or expand sustainability into its business strategy. Simultaneously, students will combine their observations from Emmendingen and new concepts from lectures and discussions to analyze the local food system and its sustainability. At the end of the
two weeks, groups will present findings, key concepts, and any recommendations in a public exhibition
for the town of Emmendingen Students will have ample time to gather first‐hand experience on site with their partner business or organization, and work autonomously in teams to develop their projects. Experienced faculty members from both DGH and COA will work with the students to guide their learning, while respecting individual interests and creativity and encouraging students to self‐organize.

The Real World Lab takes the form of a Charrette, i.e., a workshop open to the public, giving all interested citizens the opportunity to be involved in process. As work progresses the student groups will show interim results and at the end in the final exhibition.

Credits info

For the successful completion of the Summer University, students will receive a certificate of the European College of Human Ecology from the DGH about academic credit, equivalent to 150 hours of study or one college level course.

Fee info

EUR 1300: Programm fee (including local trasportation, instructional material etc.)
EUR 1200: Boarding fee (covers room and board in a local boutique hotel, BBQ and other cooking events)


Our philosophy is that cost should not be a hindrance for any student. Students needing financial assistance should fill out the financial assistance application and submit their application by the early application deadline (Jan 30, 2016) or contact us p