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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Addressing social inequities has been recognized as foundational to transforming food systems. Activists and scholars have critiqued food movements as lacking an orientation towards addressing issues of social justice. To address issues of inequity, sustainable food systems education (SFSE) programs will have to increase students’ equity-related capabilities. Our first objective in this paper is to determine the extent to which SFSE programs in the USA and Canada address equity. We identified 108 programs and reviewed their public facing documents for an explicit focus on equity. We found that roughly 80% of universities with SFSE programs do not provide evidence that they explicitly include equity in their curricula. Our second objective is to propose an equity competency model based on literature from multiple fields and perspectives. This entails dimensions related to knowledge of self; knowledge of others and one’s interactions with them; knowledge of systems of oppression and inequities; and the drive to embrace and create strategies and tactics for dismantling racism and other forms of inequity. Integrating our equity competency model into SFSE curricula can support the development of future professionals capable of dismantling inequity in the food system. We understand that to integrate an equity competency in our curricula will require commitment to build will and skill not only of our students, but our faculty, and entire university communities.

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Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene


University of California Press

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© 2020 The Author(s)

This is an open access article published by University of California Press in Elementa in 2020, available online: