Food systems across the globe are facing deep challenges related to sustainability and social justice. The crisis calls for new thinking.  

Enter Marylhurst University’s new Master of Arts in Food Systems & Society, a two-year graduate degree program meant to prepare leaders in non-profit, corporate and government arenas.

“Portland and the Northwest are food meccas, and our region is seen as a pioneer in developing innovative strategies to address many different food challenges, including policies and practices to expand access to healthier foods," says David Plotkin, Marylhurst University provost. "This is the time and the place to be engaged in building more knowledge and capacity about how to advance social change on an issue of fundamental importance to our collective health.”

Patricia Allen chairs the new department. She has led a similar program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Allen was inspired by her grandmother, who ran a small produce farm.

“I witnessed her struggle to survive, as large farms and urbanization overtook the landscape," Allen says. "Working on the farm and in food service and food processing jobs, I became acutely aware of the gender, race and class issues embedded in food work. So the goal of creating healthier, more just and more sustainable food systems isn’t just a professional calling to me – it’s a highly personal goal.”