Certificate in Agriculture and Food Policy

This program is currently on hold and not open for registration.  If you'd like to be added to a waiting list for program updates, please email AugExtEd@ualberta.ca

Agriculture in Alberta is dynamic and evolving, with diverse challenges and opportunities associated with technology and innovation, environmental sustainability, diversification, consumer preferences and trade. Within this series of courses, we examine key trends in the agriculture sector with a focus on research and policy innovation, social, economic and environmental impacts. These courses support knowledge development and skills for analyzing and promoting agricultural sustainability.

Courses can be taken individually depending upon the subject of interest, or as a series for maximum program impact. Complete a minimum of five courses to receive your Certificate in Agriculture and Food Policy from the University of Alberta - Augustana Campus.

This program will be delivered online due to COVID.  We will revisit an in-person seminar format once it is safe to do so.


Delivered in partnership with the University of Alberta's Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences

This certificate program was developed in partnership with the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology (REES) at the University of Alberta.

The Certificate in Agriculture and Food Policy consists of six, six hour long short courses, including:

Disrupting Consumption of Livestock Products: Good for You and the Planet?

Consumer demand for food is variable and constantly changing. Food is linked to health and to environmental impacts. New technologies are constantly bringing 'disruptions' to many traditional foods. In this course, we take a close look at how plant based, cell based and other substitutes for livestock products are affecting Canadian consumers. We ask big questions about how much of a disruption these substitutes will become, relative to traditional meat/dairy eating. We explore how many people are changing their eating habits, why they are, essential characteristics of new products, and how these products are perceived by consumers. 'New' livestock products are not perfect substitutes for traditional products so do all consumers understand the different implications of their choices for their own and family health and the environment? We also look at how preferences for meat substitutes might differ by meat type - for example beef substitutes, pork substitutes, or chicken substitutes. Finally, we look at issues of sustainability and ethics. What is the role of real or perceived sustainability in driving purchases of new meats versus traditional meats? And what are the outcomes? What is the role of animal welfare concerns in driving purchases of new meats versus traditional meats? And are animals in fact better off? The course will be interactive and will include opportunity to examine your own eating preferences and how they affect food costs, environmental and health outcomes.

Understanding Food Supply and Distribution Post COVID

This short course will focus on learning about agri-food supply-chain and logistics concepts and their applications to issues in local, national, and international food supply. The course will examine challenges and innovations in food distribution in the context of changing preferences, new technologies and ways of connecting producers and consumers in food markets from local to international. Using supply-chain, logistics and consumer economic concepts the course explores how evolving technology, consumer preferences, and societal goals impact food market outcomes and their implications for stakeholders ranging from production agriculture to food policy.

Course participants will work through case-study examples and scenarios that highlight food supply-chain management challenges and opportunities towards a set of learning outcomes. Finally, course participants will discuss a series of emerging strategies for how different food market stakeholders in Alberta can respond to challenges and realize goals.

Economic and Social Issues Surrounding Food Biotechnology

This course will provide an introduction to the key economic and social issues in the food biotechnology industry with an emphasis on food produced using genetic engineering technologies. The course will examine social, economic, environmental, and legal issues surrounding genetically engineered foods such as: food safety and regulatory concerns, mandatory labeling and its implications, economic and environmental effects, and the future of food biotechnology. We will present the material from various disciplinary viewpoints and make use of peer-reviewed scientific articles where appropriate.

The Future of Agri-Food Systems

This course will provide students with an overview of several, interacting processes that affect our agriculture and food systems across different spatial scales, from the local to the global. The ability of global agriculture to ensure food security and rural livelihoods has been greatly affected by past practices, the nature of the global marketplace, changing consumption practices, and anthropogenic global warming. We will explore these inter-relationships from a systems perspective, and discuss social, economic, and technological response options, including in particular an exploration of recent initiatives to revitalize local food systems.

Data Analysis using R for Agricultural Analysts in Public and Private Sectors

This short course will present the essentials of data analysis in a simple, non-mathematical way, emphasizing graphical and verbal intuition. The course applies the tools that data scientists use in practice and develops the computer skills necessary for agricultural analysts with any background (academia, government, or private business).

Participants will learn how to use R to turn raw data into insight, knowledge, and understanding. We will guide you through the steps of importing, manipulating, exploring, modeling your data, and communicating the results effectively. This short course is designed to make learning easy and intuitive, with a focus on 20% of data techniques required to complete 80% of modern data tasks. Empirical demonstrations will show participants how to conduct statistical / economic modeling (e.g., price analysis and financial management) using agricultural / agri-business data.

Agri-environmental policy and programs: Incentives and Ecosystem Services

This course will introduce and relate environmental concerns into current Canadian agricultural production practices and policies. It will start with an historical summary and describe developments to the current period. The course will cover the many incentive systems in place and those contemplated. Special attention will be paid to environmental issues such as wetlands, wildlife habitat and water quality and quantity. These will be examined through the concept of ecosystem services as well as market based instruments both of which have received significant recent attention in the agriculture sector. Much of the approach will relate to economic and social considerations within policy and programs.

This program is designed for researchers, analysts and representatives of the agriculture sector, including public and private sector employees. Participants may include municipal leaders who are located in agriculture-producing regions of the province, economic development officers, business owners, government employees, industry representatives, employees of agriculture producer groups, or members of professional associations.

Each six-hour short course will be delivered online.

Investment: $395 + GST per course.

Courses Date
Post-COVID Food Supply Oct. 13, 20, 27, 2021
12 - 2 p.m.
Agri-Environmental Policy Nov. 24, 2021
9 a.m. - 12 p.m., 1 - 4 p.m.
Data Analysis Using R Feb 23 & 24, 2022 
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Food Biotech. Issues Apr. 20, 25, 27, 2022
12 - 2 p.m.
Disrupting Consumption 2022 Date TBD
The Future of Agri-Food May 10, 12, 17, 2022
12 - 2 p.m.

Dr. Sven Anders (Understanding Food Supply and Distribution Post COVID)

Sven Anders is a Professor of Agricultural Economics and Food Marketing in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. Sven's research and teaching focus on the economics of vertical food marketing and retailing, with a focus on consumer behavior, food quality, safety and food policy. He also conducts research on how consumer diet and health behaviour shapes choice decisions and the impacts of certification systems on agri-food supply chains. Sven's passion for food trends stem from extensive travels in across Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. Experiences across different climate zones, production systems and cultures influence his research interests and work on understanding food systems in terms of their economics and the people that represent different food cultures.

Dr Ellen Goddard (Disrupting Consumption of Livestock Products: Good for You and the Planet?)

Ellen Goddard is Cooperative Chair in Agricultural Marketing and Business, University of Alberta, since December 2000. The position she holds is from an endowment created by various co-operatives, credit unions and marketing boards in Alberta during the 1980s. She came to Alberta from a position as National Australia Bank Professor of Agribusiness and Associate Dean, Coursework, at the Institute of Land and Food Resources, the University of Melbourne. Prior to that Australian appointment Ellen Goddard worked in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Guelph. Over the past 30 years Professor Goddard's research has been focused on economic modeling of domestic and international markets for food products (particularly meat) for policy analysis purposes. Current research includes various aspects of food behaviour including consumer response to food safety incidents, consumer interest in labels, demand for credence attributes, traceability and certification. She has also been (and remains) a core social science researcher (GE3LS lead) in five large livestock genomics projects (Genome Canada) -on identifying genes related to animal disease resilience, on identifying genes related to feed efficiency and on identifying and undertaking surveillance for animal disease. Ellen has recently served on the Alberta Local Food Council, on the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on the Potential Socio-Economic Impact of Antimicrobial Resistance in Canada and on the National Steering Committee for Public Trust in Agriculture. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society and a Distinguished Fellow of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

Dr. Henry An (Economic and Social Issues Surrounding Food Biotechnology)

Dr. Henry An is an Associate Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. He is an agricultural economist whose main research interests centre on technology. This includes the adoption and disadoption of technology; consumer perceptions of technology; and the economic impacts of technology. Related to this, he is also interested in the relationship between technology use and policy. Much of his research has used standard production economics and theory of the firm as the underlying conceptual framework, but he has also incorporated elements from industrial organization, experimental economics and trade. His work is empirical in nature, and has included primary data collected from surveys he has designed, as well as secondary data from well-established datasets collected by others.

Debra J. Davidson, Ph.D. (The Future of Agri-Food Systems)

Debra J. Davidson is Professor of Environmental Sociology in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. Her key areas of teaching and research include impacts and adaptation to climate change, and crises and transitions in energy and agri-food systems. Dr. Davidson is President of the Research Committee on Environment and Society in the International Sociological Association, and she was a Lead Author in Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change's 5th Assessment Report. Her work is featured in several journals, including Science, Nature, Global Environmental Change, British Journal of Sociology, and International Sociology, among others. She is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Energy and Society (2018) and Environment and Society: Concepts and Challenges (Palgrave 2018), and co-author of Challenging Legitimacy at the Precipice of Energy Calamity (Springer, 2011).

Dr. Feng Qiu (Data Analysis using R for Agricultural Analysts in Public and Private Sectors)

Dr. Feng Qiu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta (UofA). She received her Ph.D. in Economics (minor in Statistics) from North Carolina State University in 2012. Dr. Qiu's research interests focus on land use, bioenergy, price and market, and food environment. Dr. Qiu has more than 10 years of data analysis experience. Much of her work uses statistical and econometric analysis to solve practical problems that have significant impacts on policy and business decisions. The empirical projects she has done include designing crop insurance for the U.S. horticultural industry, analyzing agricultural land loss and land fragmentation in Alberta, investigating market integration between agricultural, traditional fuel and bioenergy markets, and assessing the urban food environment and many more. Dr. Qiu has published a wide range of articles in high-quality journals such as Ecological Economics, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, and Food Policy. Her research has been reported in local and international media such as Edmonton Journal, Yale Environmental Review, and London School of Economics-the Public Policy Group. Dr. Qiu teaches Land Economics and Financial Management for Resource Industries courses at U of A.

Dr. Peter Boxall (Agri-Environmental Policy and Programs: Incentives and Ecosystem Services)

The course will be delivered by Dr Peter Boxall, a resource and environmental economist on faculty in the Dept of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology. Peter has worked extensively on the values or prices associated with environmental quality changes in a number of resource sectors. His recent research has been involved with applying market based instruments to addressing wetland conservation issues in agriculture.