Global Food Security

A central element in broader debates surrounding environmental and social sustainability

We are able to land a pathfinder on Mars but we cannot provide 820 million people with a decent meal every day


Minor Global Food Security, 2019

‘… many of our food systems are currently unsustainable from a natural resources perspective’

(UNEP, 2016)

‘… disadvantaged groups [to] suffer disproportionately from the adverse effects of climate change’

(Islam S.N. and J. Winkel, 2017)

Malnutrition rates remain alarming:

stunting is declining too slowly while wasting still impacts the lives of far too many young children

(UNICEF, 2019)
The Minor Global Food Security aims to address the above raised real world problems and takes therefore an interdisciplinary approach

Global food security is at the core of many of today’s societal problems, varying from undernourished children to obese adults and elderly; climate change presents a challenge for future food production; novel technologies raise ethical questions with respect to animal welfare, preservation of biodiversity, and protection of national policy autonomy. These and many other societal issues are part of the content of this course. These insights will be useful to a variety of academic and societal fields, and may help you to choose your master’s programme.

This minor takes real world problems as a starting point. Examples, assignments and (guest)lectures will be based on the variety of actual challenges related to food security. Throughout the minor, culminating in an advisory report in the last course, you will conduct an assignment for a real organization active in the field of food security; e.g. the Ministry of Economic Affairs; Oxfam Novib; Friesland Campina.

Jobs are increasingly about combinations of insights and skills rather than specialized knowledge only. In this minor you will acquire skills and insights from different scientific backgrounds to be able to conduct interdisciplinary research. The fact that this minor is offered by the Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies, an institute that  brings together researchers from different faculties of the VU to conduct inter- and transdisciplinary research on food security, guarantees the richness of skills and methods taught. 

The minor is a career start in food policies related jobs at, e.g. Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International organizations like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, NGO’s like OXFAM and various academic institutions.

Skills for employment market

  • Spatial Analysis
  • Interviewing
  • Evidence Based Consultancy/Policy

Challenges of Food and Nutrition Security 
In this course you will first develop a broad and deep understanding of the concept of FNS, both historically and contemporaneously. Next, the course will analyze 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. 

Agriculture for Food and Nutrition Security
Between food production and agricultural production systems on the one hand, and between agricultural production systems and environmental resources on the other hand. Basic principles of crop and livestock production will be introduced, and you will learn how they are employed across different production systems and how they affect the interaction between production systems and the environment. 

Food and Quality of Life
This course introduces basic health and nutrition science principles to zoom in on the effect of food on individual wellbeing: a balanced diet can contribute to prevent diseases and improve cure rates, improve productivity and nutrition is an important aspect of social relations and wellbeing. 

Economics and Politics for Food and Nutrition Security
In this course you will acquire basic economic principles for analyzing how food systems and policies impact FNS. 

Applications in Food and Nutrition Security Analysis
In this course groups you will work on a project to develop a evidence informed policy/intervention advise to address a specific problem in food and nutrition security. 

For specific information about each course, please visit our study guide.

The minor Global Food Security Studies is open for students from all majors who want to acquire familiarity with the core principles of global food security and interdisciplinary methods. We are particularly interested in students who wish to contribute to food security through rigorous interdisciplinary knowledge production. The international staff that teaches in this minor programme conducts research in a variety of regions around the globe. This holds great appeal to students who are keen to understand the diversity and similarity in problems and solutions related to food (in)security.

There is no formal entrance requirement for the minor Global Food Security Studies. We specifically aim for a diverse group as we strongly believe that interdisciplinary research is best taught through active interaction between students from different disciplinary backgrounds. However, we expect that this minor is especially of interest to students of economics, social sciences and health sciences. The minor is a university minor which implies that VU students do not need to ask for permission from the Examination Board to acquire the credits (30 EC) for their own BSc degree.

Please see the application procedure for more information.

If you have detailed questions about the contents of the programme, please contact
Dr. D.R. Essink | | +31205987029

Dr. Melle Leenstra

Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Netherlands

"Giving all children, women and men in the world access to enough, healthy and safe food is one of the wicked problems of this time. The food economy is a major money spinner and employer, but how do we feed a growing population based on the world’s limited natural resources? Become an expert on these problems and their solutions with the minor global food security studies."

Related master's programmes

Samenvatting Global Food Security




1 semester (30 EC)


1 september


Economie, Recht en Bestuur
Gedrag en Maatschappij
Gezondheid en Beweging


School of Business and Economics


UNEP (2016) Food Systems and Natural Resources. A Report of the Working Group on Food Systems of the International Resource Panel. Westhoek, H, Ingram J., Van Berkum, S., Özay, L., and Hajer M.

UN NEWS, 2019

Islam S.N. and J. Winkel (2017)Climate Change and Social Inequality* Department of Economic & Social Affairs. DESA Working Paper No. 152