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Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies Education

Educational initiatives of ACWFS

Read more about the various courses and educational programs that ACWFS is involved with.


  • SUMMER SCHOOL - FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY at the Renmin University of China, July 2023

    Lia van Wesenbeeck has been teaching a Summer school in Food and Nutrition Security at the Renmin University of China, Beijing since 2017. 

    This year was the first year the courses were again organized on Campus, after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    This Summer school is part of the overall Summer school at this University, where over 80 courses are offered to an international audience of students.

    Visit the RUC INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL website for more information. 


    Food and nutrition security (FNS) is a critical input for the functioning and wellbeing in any society. At the same time, food and nutrition security remains far from guaranteed with 800 million people being undernourished and another billion people suffering from a lack of vitamins and minerals. 

    In this online winter course, you will first develop a broad and deep understanding of the concept of FNS, both historically and contemporaneously. Next, the course will analyse challenges to ensure food and nutrition security for all now and in the future as well as challenges posed for societies and individuals by food and nutrition insecurity. Special attention is paid to the impact of shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine for local and global FNS.

    Visit the course page for more information.


    There are 7 billion people to feed today, and this number is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. This implies that more food is needed; more food means that more water is required for crop and livestock production. But how secure are our supplies of food and water?

    In this course you examine a range of approaches towards food and water security, from international policy agreements to community-based activities. Theory is combined with practice in the lectures, the discussions and the excursions, with all providing concrete examples of how issues of food and water security are being analysed and addressed in various regions, at various levels and by various actors from science and society.

    Food and water security is a major theme at VU Amsterdam, where it is embedded in the teaching and research work of the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS-VU) and the Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies, a joint initiative of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) and the Athena Institute of the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences (FALW).

    Course aim
    At the end of this course you will:

    • Better understand food and water security, its context (local to global), major challenges, innovative solutions and policies.
    • Understand and can explain major concepts and theories in this field.
    • Be able to select and apply appropriate trans-disciplinary approaches in food and water security research, including the use of data collection, analysis and presentation tools.
    • Have acquired the computational skills needed to process relevant data, evaluate outputs and synthesize the overall outcome.
    • Possess the communication skills needed to participate in current debates in the field of food and water security.

    Visit the VU Amsterdam Summer School page for more information.


    VU offers many courses linked to the research areas of ACWFS. Some minors of interest may be:



    The Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies (ACWFS) partners in the project: Innovations in Water Education Enhancing Water Security and Socio-economic Development in the Eastern Mediterranean under Climate Change (WASEC), 2019-2022. The EU sponsored project hosts European (Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Netherlands) and Middle East (Palestine, Jordan) universities that aims to strengthen the cooperation between companies and HEIs through the development of courses in Water Resources Management under changing climatic conditions, using adaptive learning and teaching methods. 

    Under this framework, ACWFS designed the course Water Policy and Governance in Transboundary Basins. The course highlights the interaction between hydrological and socio-economic factors in a transboundary river basin. Specifically, the course deepens the understanding of natural and controlled flows within a transboundary watershed with the objective of evaluating the impact of policy interventions on socio-economic conditions of households and on industry, with a special focus on agriculture as main water consumer. The course emphasizes the need for objective empirical water balances as starting point for policy analysis and introduces the use of water economy models for policy simulation. The course was tested in a workshop and received positive responses.


    The NUFFIC sponsored Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) project: Capacity Building in WASH and CSA Education and Research in Palestine aims to strengthen the curricula of the Palestinian universities in water management with an explicit focus on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). An-Najah National University, Palestine is the lead institute for the project, partnering with eight Palestinian universities and five Dutch universities; IHE is the Dutch partners’ coordinator.

    The project aims at strengthening education and research in water, specifically efficient water management for CSA, and improved access to WASH through good governance and sound technical management. Entrepreneurship, governance, and gender constitute the three cross-cutting themes of the project.

    ACWFS contributes with supporting lecturers on Environmental Impact Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis. Furthermore, ACWFS developed two full courses: Water Valuation and Urban Agriculture. Partner universities in Palestine, as well as the public sector, identified water economics/water valuation as an academic field that is hardly developed and deserves more attention. The course Water Valuation, therefore, focuses on the application of valuing water for its various uses in a decision- and policy-making environment. Course attendants were versed in the principles and modern techniques of water pricing and used water prices as a viable instrument for policymaking. Practical assignments concentrate on numeric examples that reflect water scarcity and its adequate efficient and equitable distributions. The course includes case studies and looks at water rights, legislation and trading, and quizzes to test the attendant’s knowledge. It touches upon a variety of water value issues at the local, farm and watershed levels. Field examples give practical information on the use of water valuation techniques.

    According to the FAO, 80 per cent of the population in Palestine Territories lives in cities. These urban areas are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions but are also disproportionally affected by climate change (Dubbeling, 2013). The extreme weather conditions under climate change aggravate ‘heat islands’ while flood hazards and water scarcity might rise in the wake of more erratic rainfall patterns. Especially for the urban poor, food security is daunting under climate change as low incomes limit access to precarious and healthy food; micro-nutrient deficiencies are lying in wait. Only few activities in the field of urban agriculture in the Palestine Territories have been developed and a wider, holistic approach that considers different alternatives (e.g., allotment gardens and hydroponics) requires adequate technical as well as organizational and economic knowledge. This course aims to address this caveat by giving a focus on the development possibilities of urban agriculture in Palestine. The course highlights FAO’s Greening the Cities initiative and discusses various forms of urban agriculture. With a focus on allotment gardens, we discuss designs and principles of soil and water management as well as organizational aspects and possibilities for cooperative structures. Circularity in urban agriculture is discussed with poultry management as an example. Furthermore, principles in hydroponics are introduced to deepen the understanding and operationalization of soilless cultivation. Development of a site allocation tool aims to support policy makers in the selection of appropriate sites for urban agriculture. Lectures on entrepreneurship aim to organize commercialization of the produce. Gender is a key variable in the development of urban gardens and is discussed in a special lecture. 


    The project: Empowering the Urban Poor: Using Urban Gardens to Enter the Food Value Chain - Jardin Pro Pauvre is conducted within the framework of NUFFIC’s Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP). The project is a response to the downside of rapid urbanization, where poorer residents in cities across low- and middle-income countries increasingly experience food and nutrition deficiencies. The United Nations has highlighted urban agriculture (UA) as a viable solution to improve food security by empowering urban poor to produce their own fresh foods and make some profit from surplus production. Despite its potential role in reducing poverty and food and nutrition insecurity, there appears to be little political will to support urban agriculture. This becomes evident in unclear political mandates that are sustained by information gaps and lack of planning capacity for UA sites. Benin is no exception. In connection with uncontrolled growth of overcrowded megalopolis in South Benin, the increasing population is outpacing the required service level that is needed for a decent and healthy living. The food insecurity is especially daunting and alternative food supply mechanisms are urgently needed to diversify prevailing unbalanced diet patterns. This TMT addresses these concerns by initiating a capacity building process for the development of allotment gardens in urban and peri-urban areas of South Benin. 

    The following 10-steps are discussed during the course:

    1. Identifying constraints and opportunities of urban gardens
    2. A joint stakeholder workshop that aligns ideas and perceptions of stakeholders
    3. Future Force Field Analysis to assess consequences and trends in development of urban gardens
    4. The design and use of a site selection tool for urban gardens
    5. Land and water development of an urban garden
    6. Planning nutrition sensitive agricultural production
    7. Business plan - Preparing a full business plan including a proposition for new organizational entities
    8. Organizational structure - Discussing various forms for cooperation in urban gardens
    9. Developing an exploitation plan to ensure the functioning of course elements in the post-project period

    The course is a joint collaboration between VU University institutes (Centre for international Cooperation, Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies and the Athena Institute), the Faculty of Agronomy and Institute for Food Security of the  Abomey-Calavi University. and the Centre d’Actions pour l’Environnement et le Développement Durable.