D-Lab: Food and Health

Fall Quarter 2016

CRN: Contact Paula Balbontin
Units: 2 units, P/NP
Instructor: Kurt Kornbluth (kkorn@ucdavis.edu)
Contact: Paual Balbontin (pbalbontin@ucdavis.edu)
Meeting Times: Wednesday, 4:10pm-6pm
Location: Bowley 101
Prerequisite None (Upper division only)
Undergraduate (permission of instructor)/Graduate (all disciplines welcome)
Office Hours: To be determined

Summary: In partnership with the UC Davis Blum Center, this two-unit course is aimed at graduate and undergraduate students who want to learn more about the role of food and health on solving real world issues. The course provides a landscape of Developing Food and Health markets and global poverty. An overview course focused on food and health issues in developing economies that emphasizes critical thinking. This 2 hour seminar leads the student through a process of framing projects concerned with food and health using D-Lab’s 4 lens approach to sustainability. Looking through the lenses of society, environment, economics, and technology, we will work with real world clients to create design briefs addressing their needs.

Course Goal: To develop the intersection between UC Davis’s established strengths in the science of food and Health (Food Science and Technology, Nutrition and Health) with our emerging strengths in the social and cultural analysis of international food and health systems.

Course Objectives:

  1. To connect students with real challenges and international clients.
  2. To promote international linkages between UC Davis and developing economies.
  3. To expose and connect students with an international context.
  4. To immerse the students with a developing context.
  5. To provide students with practical analytical tools to work in development with a focus on food and health projects.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe concepts related to Food and Health issues and explain the key principles of a D-Lab team approach required for effective innovation, design, and dissemination.
  2. Develop the critical thinking skills needed to analyze case studies targeted to food and health topics with respect to technological, financial, environmental and social impacts.
  3. Identify key stakeholders in food and health challenges and develop approaches to achieve their buy-in (power mapping).
  4. Identify opportunities where multi-disciplinary collaboration can be more effective than a singular professional approach in achieving food and health improvements.
  5. Develop leadership skills to coordinate team efforts beyond own profession (group management, active listening, strategic thinking, and adaptability).


  • Case studies, and guest speakers will focus on user-centered and market-based design approaches. Case studies, guest speakers, and in-class activities will provide students with useful analytical tools for creating their own role in a sustainable solution targeted to food and health global issues.


  • 4-lenses of Sustainability: A holistic approach.
  • Design for development.
  • Feasibility Studies targeted to developing context. (Technology, Market, and Impact Assessment)
  • Systematic/holistic approach about Global Food and Health initiatives.
  • International Food and Health Market Analysis.
  • Development, Global Poverty and Inequality Framework.
  • Community Engagement (Community Mapping, Stakeholder’s Analysis)


In-class assignments: Students will be given in-class activities to help them form their projects. Their participation in these activities will be a basis for their participation grade.

Presentations: Each group of students will give a 10-minute presentation to the class on their project at the end of the course.


Pass/No Pass