In the new MOOC promoted by BCFN, food sustainability goes Mediterranean

In the new MOOC promoted by BCFN, food sustainability goes Mediterranean

March 16, 2018

In the new MOOC promoted by BCFN, food sustainability goes Mediterranean

The new online course dedicated to the sustainability of food systems can be taken, and it specifically addresses the Mediterranean scenario and its challenges.

Another opportunity to investigate the topics of sustainability and how food systems work: in the next few days, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled “Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective" resulting from the partnership between the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Mediterranean, SDG Academy, Università di Siena and BCFN is to open. Thanks to a series of purpose-designed tools, the course - which is designed to reach a very large number of people through the web - has the goal of analyzing and tackling the challenges tied to the environment and to climate changes, starting with the experience of countries located around the Mediterranean and using their perspective to try to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.

Why the Mediterranean?

As far as healthy diets go, there is little doubt on the importance of this region of the world, the cradle of the Mediterranean diet which UNESCO declared as intangible heritage of humanity back in 2010. Yet the Mediterranean basin is also one of the areas which boasts the greatest biodiversity on a global scale and it is the cradle of a complex tangle of climates, cultures and culinary traditions. It is not easy to talk about sustainability and food systems in this part of the world: a large number of specific political, social, cultural and economic factors are at play, and the purpose of this course is to explore these through 360 degrees with an approach from “field to fork”. As can be read on the web page dedicated to the project, today, the ability of the Mediterranean production system to ensure the food safety of its people has been endangered by several emergencies and farming has to take into account poor sustainability, limited diversification, excessive soil exploitation, water shortages and poor water resource management, food loss and waste

Hence the idea for a "Mediterranean" course to address the challenges and the opportunities in the farming sector of the region, with an approach that does not neglect the local dimension, but instead looks closely also at Sustainable Development Goals on a global scale. 

A solid base

A large number of people could benefit from the training offered by this course, starting with the students, whether graduates or not, interested in the topics of sustainability and the development of the Mediterranean area. But the course also addresses those who currently or will in future work in agriculture and food, and who want a complete overview of the trends in the sector and the market opportunities. The course also constitutes a great opportunity for educating those who want to find out more about the new professions, which are in increasing demand in the agrifood industry: from food designers to innovation brokers, without forgetting urban planners and hydrologists. In some cases, these are "re-invented" jobs, based on tradition with the addition of technology, whereas in other cases they are brand-new professions, which until a short while ago were non-existent or perhaps not even fathomable. 


According to Sonia Massari, a teacher at Gustolab International: “The course was created to reinforce the current educational offering with a new format capable of teaching young people about the importance of transdisciplinarity, which is indispensable to get to know more about the world of food and its sustainability in scientific, humanistic and economic terms”. Last, but by no means least, this educational course could also be extremely useful for policy makers and investors who operate in the Mediterranean region and who want to investigate the issues tied to agricultural policies and investments at both regional and global level. 

To guarantee the quality of the course, the main organizer, SDSN Mediterranean, one of the regional sections of the more extended global network SDSN, which has since 2012 operated under the aegis of the Secretary-General of the United Nations with the aim of involving experts from all over the world in the pursuit of efficient solutions to achieve the general sustainability goals, but also the more specific goals represented by the sustainable development goals and the Paris climate agreement.

The course is divided up into 10 modules, which are described in detail on the official web page, that explore the typical sustainability challenges of the Mediterranean region, also analyzing European and international policies and shedding light on new opportunities for those wishing to invest in the sustainable future of the Mediterranean. 

In practice

The course is completely free of charge and can be accessed at any time, without any expiration date or expected closure. This means that, with a simple Internet connection, students can begin the course and complete it according to flexible time frames and schedules, which can be adjusted to suit individual availability and commitments. The duration of the course therefore depends on personal engagements, but approximately two hours are necessary to complete each of the 10 modules - organized into videos by experts, readings and multiple-choice quizzes. Students who get a percentage of correct answers of 70% or more in the quizzes will receive a certificate stating they have passed the MOOC (if the percentage is 85% or more), which will be sent within two weeks after completing the course. It is worth mentioning that, given how the course is organized, teachers will be unable to monitor student activities closely, who are advised to share any doubts or thoughts with their colleagues using the dedicated forum. The web page of the SDG Academy dedicated to the project provides all the details, including e-mail addresses to make inquiries about the course ( or the platform ( 

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