The Sustainable Community Food Systems (SCFS) program serves to train new generations of food system professionals to think critically and across disciplinary boundaries to actively solve real-world problems through work in agriculture, policy-making, planning, business, research, health sciences and education.
A “sustainable community food system” is defined as one in which producers, retailers, community members and governmental and non-governmental organizations partner to create a vibrant and resilient local food economy that enhances and sustains the environmental, economic, and social health of a community.
Developing a more sustainable community food system for Hawai‘i represents an opportunity to create a new food economy that integrates the objectives of “green” job creation, sustainable economic development, land stewardship, food security, environmental protection, and climate change resiliency with community health and well-being.
SCFS is a multidisciplinary, experiential and applied education program focused on key ecological and social issues in the food system. The SCSF Program incorporates problem-based and hands-on learning to develop food system professionals capable of solving real-world problems and transitioning Hawai‘i’s food system toward greater ecological sustainability, social equity and climate change resilience.
Upon successful completion of the BAS in Sustainable Community Food Systems (SCFS), students will demonstrate the following learning outcomes:
Demonstrate knowledge of key ecological and social issues in modern agriculture and their proximate and systemic causes.
Demonstrate knowledge of the functional role of biodiversity in provisioning globally important ecosystem services to and from agroecosystems.
Demonstrate knowledge of key socio-economic and political factors influencing ecological and social sustainability in agriculture.
Demonstrate the ability to read, write, speak and think critically about contemporary social and environmental issues in food and agriculture at the local, state, national and international level.
Demonstrate practical skills associated with diversified organic agricultural production for the Hawai‘i context.
Internships / Practicums
SCFS students spend a full year taking two separate senior practicum courses to further develop their
skills of translating and applying classroom content (theory) to the real world (practice). The SCFS “Farming Systems Practicum” provides students with the opportunity to intern at commercial or traditional farms while studying both the agronomy and ecological sustainability of farming systems in Hawai‘i and beyond.
SCFS students in the “Food System Practicum” course work with state agencies and local or national NGOs learning how to advance an agenda of food system transformation toward ecological sustainability, social justice and economic viability. While completing their practicum experience, students engage with both faculty members and the social science literature on the theory and practice of food system change.
Careers and Earning Potential
The SCFS program is designed to span traditional disciplinary boundaries through a comprehensive course of study of the ecology of the food system. Through a trans-disciplinary and experiential curriculum, students learn “systems thinking” and are empowered to better understand and actively solve real-world problems in food and agriculture through work in farming, planning, government, business, research, education and policy-making.
A job in sustainability encompasses the concept of stewardship—the responsible management of resources. Sustainability professionals seek to improve an organization’s environmental, social, and economic impact. Potential careers span a diverse set of industries, including food access coordinator, organic certification specialist, organic farm manager, school garden educator, food access coordinator, and farmer’s market managers. Some have specific titles such as sustainability manager and director of corporate responsibility. Sustainability professionals in other roles may have experience as industrial managers, logistics (transportation, storage, and distribution) managers, environmental scientists, civil engineers, or recycling coordinators.
Future careers in sustainability management include:
Farmer, rancher and other agricultural managers: $69,300
Agriculture and food scientist: $58,610
Kindergarten through elementary school teacher: $53,090
High school teacher: $55,050
Soil and plant scientists: $58,940
Environmental scientists and specialists, including health: $62,920
The UH West O‘ahu Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainable Community Food Systems was developed in partnership with MA‘O Organic Farms and Kamehameha Schools. The SCFS program maintains collaborative relationships with many local and national organizations and institutions, including: the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), UH Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning, UH Office of Sustainability, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, MA‘O Organic Farms, UC Davis Student Experimental Farm, Ka‘ala Farm, Hawai‘i Farmers Union United, Kohala Center, Mohala Farms, Hui Ku Maoli Ola Native Plants, Paepae o He‘eia Fishpond, Center for Food Safety, Kahumana Farms, Waipa Foundation, Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi, Kua‘aina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA), and the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), among many others.