LCIRAH to help promote sustainable and healthy food systems through new inter-university postgraduate teaching and learning programme

LCIRAH is collaborating with other UK universities to deliver a new postgraduate education opportunity designed to tackle one of the biggest issues of our time - how to feed our growing global population sustainably. 

The programme, “Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning” (IFSTAL), is the first inter-university collaboration in the UK that gives postgraduates a chance to study food systems. 

IFSTAL is led by the University of Oxford, and jointly delivered across the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (comprising the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College and SOAS University of London,, City University-London, the University of Reading and the University of Warwick.

The London launch of IFSTAL took place on Thursday 22 October at the RVC’s Camden Campus, and was hosted by LCIRAH and City University in a joint event with the London International Development Centre. 

In the event, Dr John Ingram, IFSTAL Programme Leader, delivered the inaugural lecture (live streamed from Oxford) for the IFSTAL programme on “Food Systems: challenges, concepts and communities”. This was followed by a welcome and discussion led by a panel of experts. 

The programme will offer innovative, interactive ways of learning, and is available to all postgraduates at each of the participating institutions. It is also the first inter-university programme in the UK to work with partners in government, business, and NGOs to design a programme for a future workforce that has a better understanding of a wide spectrum of the issues involved.

IFSTAL looks at the entire food system. It examines the interactions between food security and changes in climate, in other environmental aspects, and in social and economic conditions over the coming decades, and what these might mean for consumers and the many enterprises involved.

IFSTAL is being offered as an extra component for postgraduates already enrolled on Masters or PhD courses in a wide range of disciplines. It offers lectures livestreamed to all IFSTAL institutions, on-line resources, blogging, and a range of opportunities to interact with fellow students and the workplace. The content includes a wide selection of topics relevant for those wanting to work in the agri-food industry or in relevant NGOs or government departments.

There will be seven further lectures over the year given by experts in their field, with each participating institution bringing its own disciplinary specialism. Most of the programme will be delivered via the interactive Virtual Learning Environment, but there will also be opportunities for face-to-face meetings and a week-long, work-related summer school at the end of the academic year.

IFSTAL is funded over the next three years by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), through their Catalyst Fund and is offered at no extra charge to postgraduates at the participating institutions.

Dr Barbara Haesler, lecturer in Agrihealth at the RVC and lead academic at LCIRAH, said:
“Creating sustainable food systems that promote balanced diets and health for people, ani-mals and the environment is one of today’s big challenges. Food production, processing, distribution and consumption are strongly influenced by economic and population growth, changes in lifestyle, increased consumption of livestock products, urbanisation, and global trade. The resulting complexity cannot be tackled by one discipline alone. Our vision is that IFSTAL becomes a stimulating hub for students, staff, and employers to meet and exchange ideas, learn from each other, discuss and shape potential solutions”.
Further information about the IFSTAL programme at

Notes to Editors:

Lead Academics at the five institutions 

Dr John Ingram, IFSTAL Programme Leader (University of Oxford) 
Professor Tim Lang (City University London)
Dr Alex Arnell (University of Reading)
Dr Rosemary Collier (University of Warwick)
Dr Barbara Haesler (The Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health: LCIRAH, comprising the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Royal Veterinary College and SOAS University of London)