• Course Code:  SFSM

  • Term:  On Demand

  • Open for Enrollment

  • Self-paced

  • Course Author(s)
    SDSN Mediterranean, Università di Siena
Mooc 21 title card final

Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective

On Demand

  • Sdg academy website announcment
    The SDG Academy Team


The Mediterranean region is one of the most biodiverse in the world, home to a complex and intricate patchwork of cultures, climates, and cuisines. Food systems in the region -- represented worldwide by the "Mediterranean diet" -- are equally complex, demanding analysis across the political, social, cultural, economic and nutritional spectrums from landscape to table. 


The ability of Mediterranean agriculture to sustain its peoples -- and the planet -- is now threatened by several issues:

  • Unsustainable agriculture production and limited agricultural diversification;
  • Overexploitation of natural resources, including loss of soil fertility and agricultural biodiversity;
  • Water scarcity and poor water management;
  • Limited agricultural diversification;
  • Increasingly poor nutritional value of food products and diets;
  • Food loss and waste; and
  • Decline in food culture and food sovereignty, highlighting the struggle between modernity and tradition.

This course discusses the challenges and opportunities of the agricultural sector in the Mediterranean basin. It summarizes global-to-local challenges related to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); outlines the history and culture of agriculture and its main characteristics with a focus on the "Mediterranean diet"; explains agricultural data with a focus on rural development models and value creation; explores EU policy frameworks and international agreements related to food and agriculture in the Mediterranean; and highlights emerging opportunities linked to innovation and sustainability in the sector. 


This course is for:

  • Students at the undergraduate or graduate level interested in the main challenges facing the Mediterranean region;
  • Current and future practitioners in the agriculture, food and beverage sectors who wish to gain useful insights about current and future trends and business opportunities; and
  • Policymakers and regional stakeholders who want to deepen their knowledge of agricultural policy, investment, and decisionmaking in the region and globally.

How do we produce more, better quality, and safer food while simultaneously achieving social and environmental goals? Join this course to find out. 


Course Structure and Requirements


This course is offered on demand, which means that the content is available in its entirety starting on March 12, 2018 with no closing date. Students may enroll anytime after March 12, and may complete all content at any time suitable to their schedule. While on-demand courses are not monitored by course staff or instructors, we encourage students to share their experiences, questions, and resources with one another using the discussion forum anyway. 


Looking for a live course? Enroll in our global “Feeding a Hungry Planet: Agriculture, Nutrition and Sustainability” course, next launching on April 16th, 2018. 


Structure: Video lectures, readings, and quizzes

Estimated time commitment: 2 hours per module

Cost: Free

Requirements: An internet connection

Certificates: Students who successfully complete the course will receive a digital certificate of proficiency, signed by the course organizers. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the quizzes, all of which are multiple choice. Students who score 85% or higher will receive certificates of proficiency with distinction. NOTE: Students who reach a grade of 70, even if they have not completed the entire course, will automatically receive a certificate of proficiency. If the student continues through the course beyond this point and reaches a grade of 85 or higher, they will receive a second certificate for proficiency with distinction. 

Credits: While this course is not credit granting, we encourage students to work with their own institutions to explore the option of granting credit for online coursework.

Questions about the course: Email the SDG Academy at sdgacademy@unsdsn.org.

Questions about the platform: Email support@edcast.com.


Course Syllabus

Prologue: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs


Module 1. The Mediterranean challenges around food and agriculture

1.1 Introduction to this MOOC (Prof. Alessio Cavicchi)

1.2 Mediterranean challenges and innovation in food systems (Prof. Angelo Riccaboni)

1.3 Theoretical framework, objectives and course outline (Prof. Alessio Cavicchi)

1.4 Contextualizing the SDGs for the Mediterranean region: what do the SDGs mean for the countries of the Mediterranean? (Prof. Phoebe Kounduri)


Module 2. History of agriculture in Mediterranean basin and Mediterranean Diet (Prof. Ayman Farid Abou-Hadid)

2.1 The origin of agriculture

2.2 Civilisations

2.3 Middles ages and early modern

2.4 Modern agriculture

2.5 Agriculture and habits of local communities: the origin of the “Mediterranean diet”


Module 3. Poverty alleviation, economic and social rural development 

3.1 Economics of food systems

3.2 Rural development

3.3 Markets and supply chains

3.4 International trade

3.5 Development enhancing investments

3.6 Food governance


Module 4: Fisheries and Aquaculture 

4.1 Our Ocean: A Finite Resource

4.2 Dance of the plankton

4.3 Marine Food Chains

4.4 Fisheries Economics and Management

4.5 Aquaculture and Mariculture

4.6 Sustainable Management of Fisheries

4.7 Summing it up 


Module 5. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward I. Water resources and Fisheries Management (Prof. Maite Aldaya)

5.1 Challenges 

5.2 Theoretical chapter 

5.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean  


Module 6. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward II. Sustainable farming systems under environmental and climatic constraints

6.1 Challenges (Prof. Riccardo Valentini)

6.1b Challenges at Mediterranean level

6.2 Theoretical chapter (Arbaoui Sarra)

6.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean (Arbaoui Sarra


Module 7. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward III. Food value chain for regional and local development

7.1 Challenges of the Mediterranean food value chains (Prof. Angelo Riccaboni)

7.2 Theoretical chapter (Prof. Stefano Pascucci)

7.3 Successful case studies in Mediterranean (Prof Stefano Pascucci)


Module 8. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean – The way forward IV. Reducing food waste and enhancing by-product innovations

8.1 Challenges (Prof Ali Abdelaziz)

8.2 Theoretical chapter (Prof Ali Abdelaziz)

8.3 Case studies in Egypt (Prof. Amr Helal) 


Module 9. How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Mediterranean –  The way forward V. Nutrition and Education

9.1 Challenges (prof. Gabriele Riccardi)

9.2 Theoretical chapter (prof. Gabriele Riccardi)

9.3 Successful Case studies in North Africa and Middle East (Prof. Reema Tayyem)


Module 10. New professional profiles in a Mediterranean context (Dr. Sonia Massari)

10.1 Professional needs to face sustainability issues

10.2 Youth & food: new entrepreneurs in the Med food systems

10.3 Professional profiles in the agrifood sector

10.4 Professional profiles in the “sustainable tourism” sector: food as destination branding driver

10.5 The role of Higher Education Institutions: international cooperation, exchange and mobility

10.6 A job for the future: the “innovation broker” 

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Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective


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