D-Lab 0 Project Framing Seminar: Sustainable Innovations in Food Systems

ABT 298 006/198 009 | Fall Quarter 2017


Undergraduate (ABT 198): email TAs

Graduate (ABT 298): 30552

Units: 2 units, P/NP
Instructors: Kurt Kornbluth (kkorn@ucdavis.edu), Irwin Donis-Gonzalez (irdonisgon@ucdavis.edu)
Teaching Assistants: Leanne Bolaño (lcbolano@ucdavis.edu)

Sean Maxson (smmaxon@ucdavis.edu)

Meeting Times: Tuesday, 4:10pm-6pm
Location: Parsons 111
Prerequisite None (Upper division only)
Undergraduate (permission of instructor)/Graduate (all disciplines welcome)
Office Hours: To be determined


In partnership with the UC Davis D-Lab and Innovation Institute for Food and Health (IIFH), this two-unit course is aimed at graduate and undergraduate students who want to learn more about creating sustainable food systems for the developed and developing world. This 2-hour seminar leads the student through a process of framing projects concerned with sustainable food systems including but not limited to farming practices, post-harvest, and processing. Using the D-Lab 4-lens framework (social environmental, economic, and technical), student teams we will work with real world clients to create design briefs to address their needs. Selected briefs form this course will be used as projects in D-Lab 1 during Winter quarter.

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 systems 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 systems 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 food systems initiatives.
  • 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

Syllabus: D-Lab 0 Syllabus