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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools

Designing sustainable landscapes within regional food systems

We are currently updating our course overview for 2021-2022. The information below might be updated.

Learn all about designing sustainable regional food systems and agroecological landscapes for the North of The Netherlands! A redesign of the agricultural systems and resulting landscapes is urgently needed. The north of The Netherlands is a region that has the potential to become an example and lead the way towards sustainable food production, playing a key role at national and international levels.

Agricultural systems in the North of The Netherlands exhibit the same problems observed in other regions of intensive farming. Problems such as high dependence on external inputs and financial subsidies, environmental pollution, GHG emissions and biodiversity loss; with the aggravating consequences of high land and labour prices and farmers’ elevated degrees of financial indebtedness. Yet the northern region of The Netherlands, comprising the provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe, has a great potential for agricultural production thanks to its favourable environment in terms of soils and climate, and to the know-how of a highly professionalised agricultural sector.

The region also hosts a large and vibrant food industry, and centres of knowledge and excellence. The diversity of soils and environments in the North means that a large diversity of agricultural activities can take place in the region, with the potential to create a solid base for a more local and circular agricultural sector. Yet, biodiversity has been declining in the region over the last four decades, chiefly as a consequence of agricultural intensification.

In this summer school, you will focus on the North of the Netherlands as a case study region. You will visit farms, go to landscape lectures and conduct interviews with various stakeholders (farmer organisations, advisors, food industry, retailers, local government, academia, etc.). This will be supplemented with background literature and lectures by specialists from various disciplines (agriculture, ecology, geography, economics, nutrition, political and social sciences) to provide you with all the necessary elements to design sustainable regional food systems and agroecological landscapes for the North of The Netherlands.

Practical information

Dates 27 June - 1 July 2022
Deadline for application 1 May 2022
Location Groningen, the Netherlands (including field visits)
Fee (incl. 5 lunches & 2 excursions) * tbc UG students: € 350
Other students: € 450
Practitioners: € 550
Academic coordinator

Prof. Pablo Tittonell



It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Learning outcomes

The objective of the school is for participants to develop capacities and skills for the analysis and design of multifunctional agroecological landscapes within sustainable regional food systems, from a social-ecological perspective that bridges scales and disciplines, to inform technical-organisational innovation and policy dialogue. The following learning outcomes are expected:

  1. Define Agroecology, landscapes and sustainable food systems in terms of components, scales, dimensions, diversity and value systems;
  2. Analyse food system stakeholder roles and relevance in a regional context;
  3. Evaluate the diversity in structure and function of and within agricultural landscapes;
  4. Evaluate dynamics & complexities of socio-ecological interactions;
  5. Integrate & synthesise multi-disciplinary knowledge to design sustainable agricultural landscapes and food systems in a regional context.
Course schedule

  • Participatory classroom learning (lectures, discussions, group work and assignments)
  • Field work (North of The Netherlands)
  • Stakeholder interviews and analysis
  • Integrated assessment of landscapes from a social-ecological perspective
  • Qualitative and quantitative systems analysis from field to landscapes
  • Design of a landscape and policy planning
  • Feedback to community through participatory workshop
Assessment strategies
  • Report on practical lectures
  • Presentation to community
  • Final report landscape and policy plan
  • Self-assessment

Upon successful completion of the programme, the summer school offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload in hours (60 hours, NB 28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Application procedure
Applications will open in December 2021.
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Last modified:22 October 2021 09.11 a.m.