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Project Summary

The Food Systems Fellows Program invites undergraduate students with a major or minor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who are interested in all realms of farm to fork production, to apply for the inaugural class of Food Systems Fellows. The program consists of three internship experiences in production, food processing and agribusiness/retail to better understand the holistic nature of food systems. The purpose of these experiences, over the course of two summers and one winter break, is to place students for sufficient length of time in situations where they have opportunities to immerse themselves in the food systems.

The Food Systems Fellows Program will use the three experiences to anchor a comprehensive program focusing on training students to apply system dynamic thinking to the solution of food industry problems. Systems thinking and modeling provides a useful framework for consideration of these issues to provide relevant, actionable insights. Involvement in the program will enhance real-world understanding of how food is produced, transformed into products, and how managers make decisions using available information. Fellows will develop a broader view of food system decisions and how they are interrelated. They will be better prepared to contribute to the outcomes important to many food-industry firms: profitability, environmental health and social well-being. Applications will be due on February 15, with notifications to applicants by March 1.

Roles and Responsibilities

Students must be willing to commit to three internship experiences as well as enroll in a one credit class for two semesters (15 month program). Course work will consist of a professional pre-course, reflection papers on experiences, a poster presentation, systems diagramming, journaling and a final paper.


No prerequisites are required, however only sophomores will be accepted due to the 15 month timeline.


The program will ensure that participants have a strong appreciation for system interactions, and the analytical skills necessary to consider impacts of their decisions. Fellows will be expected to lead important processes of change in the food industry. They will act responsibly with a wider view of potential impact on their firm, the other firms in their supply chain, the environment and the broader communities affected by their activities.