Sponsored by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Lecture Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday | 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Faculty: Moana McClellan | Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Coordinator
Peter Kareiva | Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
Holly Buck| Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
Janet O’Shea | World Arts and Cultures/Dance
Librarians: Jennifer Osorio | Young Research Library
Simon Lee | Powell Library
Writing Consultant: Dana Cairns Watson | Writing Programs
Inquiry Specialist: Max McNally

Cluster M1 - Food

As the world’s human population surpasses 7 billion — with 1 billion people starving and approximately 1.5 billion over-weight — feeding the global population in a healthy, sustainable way in the face of climate change is perhaps the most urgent challenge of our time. Students in the Food cluster explore the complex connections between food and the environment, focusing on scientific, economic, cultural and social factors. The ubiquitous nature of food makes it a remarkable catalyst for interdisciplinary analysis.

What are the Benefits?

  • Satisfy 4 GEs requirements
  • Satisfy Writing II requirement
  • 18 units toward degree
  • College Honors units including Honors Collegium
  • Priority Enrollment in Eng. Comp. 3

Writing II and Foundation Area General Education Credit

Upon completion of the yearlong cluster, students will fulfill the Writing II requirement and satisfy 4 GE course requirements:

  • 2 Foundations of Scientific Inquiry (1 in Life Science with lab/demonstration credit, 1 in Physical Science with lab/demonstration credit)
  • 1 Foundations of Society and Culture in Social Analysis
  • 1 of the following (student will choose based on need for GE credit): Foundations of Scientific Inquiry in Life Science (without lab), Foundations of Scientific Inquiry in Physical Science (without lab), Society and Culture in Social Analysis, Society and Culture in Historical Analysis

Food Studies Minor

Students in good academic standing who complete GE Cluster/Environment 1CW with a C or better, are eligible to apply for the Food Studies minor. See more information on the minor and how to apply .

Environmental Systems and Society Minor

Completion of this cluster satisfies one lower-division course requirement for the Environmental Systems and Society minor. See more information on the minor and how to apply .

Everyone is very knowledgeable about the information they are teaching and it is really encouraging to see passion in the teachers and TAs.  I really love this cluster and it is one of the best decisions I've made in college so far.Course Format

Lectures will cover the four blocks of “basic” material each presented by a faculty member, taught with a focus on food. Themes include:

  • Relationships between agriculture, ecology, and biodiversity
  • Food production, water quantity, and water quality
  • Air quality, climate change, energy elements of food production
  • People, food, and the environment

Lectures will also cover “Case Studies” of focused material presented by all faculty and guest lecturers. Themes include:

  • Food from the sea
  • Agriculture and the California water supply
  • Food miles and impacts on greenhouse gas emissions
  • Alternative food systems and the environment
  • Antibiotics use in livestock and the growing resistance to these drugs
  • Feedlots versus pasture: comparison with respect to climate change

Discussion Sections and Labs

Discussion sections are two hours per week conducted by graduate students. These sections allow for students to engage in follow-up discussions and exam reviews.

Additionally, “Labs” will help students quantitatively understand the carbon and water footprints of various foods and food systems, nutrient demands of our food production, food miles and related energy costs, and projections for how to achieve sustainable food production for a growing population.

Field Trips

All students participate in one field trip in the Fall and one field trip in the Winter.

Previous field trips have included: Vital Zuman Sustainable Farm; behind the scenes look at Disney Land food services; Healthy Family Farms, Westside Food Bank.

Spring Seminars

During spring quarter, students choose a seminar that allows them to explore a particular topic in greater depth. Previous seminar titles have included:

  • Environmental History of Agriculture and Food
  • Impact of Modern Lifestyle on Health
  • Coyotes and Chickens: Urban Ecology of Food and Wildlife in Los Angeles
  • Global Climate Change, Food, Health, and Sustainability
  • Making Films about Food: Collaborations in Los Angeles
  • Farm to Fork: The U.S. Food System and Public Health
  • Eating Sustainably in Urban Los Angeles
  • Mapping What We Eat: Geography of Global Food System


Students should enroll in the GE CLST M1 sections rather than the Environment M1 sections.