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Sustainable Food Concentration

Man from local farm displays his fresh tomatoes from the back of a truck

At Smith we understand that one way to make a difference in the world is to grow knowledge. That is why, after demonstrated interest by students and faculty, CEEDS announced an environmental concentration in sustainable food. The Sustainable Food Concentration lets students engage in an interdisciplinary exploration of food and the many issues involved in sustainability. Whether you are interested in global food distribution systems, the economics of agriculture, food cultures around the world, agriculture policy or the various ways that gender and food intersect, you can explore your interests in a cohesive, directed and exciting way.

By studying sustainable food, students can capitalize on the many opportunities for engagement around food and agriculture-related initiatives happening right in their own backyard. The Sustainable Food Concentration helps you put theory into practice, gaining hands-on experience in a topic that is integral to both your surrounding community and the global community.


The concentration is limited to 15 students per class year. Sophomores, juniors and Ada Comstock Scholars are encouraged to apply. Selection of concentrators is based on academic performance, intentionality and commitment, and diversity of the cohort.

Gateway Course

Choose one:

  • ENX 100 Environment and Sustainability: Notes from the Field (1 credit/offered each year)
  • LSS 100 Landscape, Environment, Design (2 credits/offered each year)

The gateway course may be taken prior to admittance to the concentration.

Academic Core

In consultation with your adviser, you must choose four classes from among the many climate-related courses offered within the Five Colleges. Courses must span at least two of the three divisions: humanities; social sciences and history; and natural sciences and engineering. Normally, it is expected that you will take at least two of the core courses in semesters after admittance to the concentration.

Capstone Course

ENX 301: Environmental Concentration Capstone: Sustainable Food

This seminar course brings concentrators together as a cohort to engage in a community and team-based capstone project. This offering complements the 100- and 200-level Smith courses related to sustainable food to provide a deeper experience.

Practical Experiences

Practical experiences are an integral part of the Sustainable Food Concentration; they provide opportunities to integrate the knowledge gained from various courses in support of work related to the environment and the concentration, and to learn from and critically reflect upon those experiences outside of the classroom in a way that enhances your course of study at Smith.

Practical experiences may include internships and paid or volunteer work that aligns with your topic of sustainable food. To fulfill your requirements, you must complete two distinct practical experiences.

Minimum Requirements

You will complete two different practical experiences to fulfill the requirements for the concentration. Each internship, volunteer or work experience must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Consist of 100 hours of work—roughly equivalent to a semester-long campus commitment or a 2.5-week full-time internship. (In some situations, a work experience may be concomitant with academic study that bears credit. The work component should be distinct and, on its own, satisfy the 100-hour minimum.)
  • Focus on substantive, content-based work.
  • Occur after your arrival at Smith.
  • Be approved by your concentration adviser.

Note: If Praxis funding is used to support the experience, there may be requirements in addition to those outlined here.

Receiving Credit

To receive credit for your practical experience, you must:

  1. Receive preapproval from your concentration adviser using the Practical Experience Approval Form. (If you already completed a practical experience before entering the Environmental Concentration, you may be eligible to receive credit for one experience. Instructions on retroactive practicum experiences are below).
  2. Have your practicum supervisor complete the Supervisor Evaluation Form. Then meet with your concentration adviser to discuss your experience and sign the form.
  3. Participate in the Concentration Reflection Program (dinners, meetings, retreats, etc.) during both your junior and senior years.

Retroactive Practicum Experiences

With your adviser's approval, a practical experience completed before entering the Sustainable Food Concentration may be accepted provided that it consisted of at least 100 hours and took place after your senior year of high school and within two years of matriculating at Smith. Please consult your concentration adviser, and then document your experience by completing the Practical Experience Approval Form retroactively with your concentration adviser.

A deadline for submitting this paperwork to Joanne Benkley will be communicated to you after you have been accepted into the concentration.


Fill out the Declaration Form when you first meet with your concentration adviser. This will allow the concentration to show up in Banner and makes your participation official with the college.

Early in the final semester of senior year you are required to submit a completed Concentration Checklist, signed by your adviser, indicating that you have completed all concentration requirements. You will not receive credit for the concentration without submitting this form to Joanne Benkley.


Practical Experiences

Prior to your practical experience, complete and discuss the Practical Experience Approval Form with your concentration adviser before submitting it to Joanne Benkley.


Complete the upper portion of the Supervisor Evaluation Form and give it to your supervisor at the beginning of your internship. Submit a completed form to Joanne Benkley once your internship has finished.

How to Apply

To apply for the Sustainable Food Concentration, log in and fill out the online application. You may apply to the concentration in your sophomore or junior year.

The next deadline to apply is October 11, 2019.

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Wright Hall 005
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3352
Fax: 413-585-3333
Assistant Director:
Joanne Benkley