O1 SUS+ Survey

O1 – Analysis of students’ understanding of the ‚Sustainable food system’ and expectations towards education within this subject area.

This has been an international survey on the expectations and needs of students towards educational modules/topics/methods within the subject of sustainable food system in the study programmes/courses. The survey has been done in each of the 8 Universities participating in the project (altogether more than 700 entries). Each SUSPLUS project Partner was involved in the activities leading to production of this final output.

The O1 Output is available here: SUSPLUS_O1_Results of the survey

The output files can be found here:

Questionnaire: Susplus-survey

Survey results:

O1 results UPM, Spain

O1 results Poland

O1 results Munster

O1 results Kassel

O1 results Italy

O1 results ISARA, France

O1 results Estonia

O1 results Copenhagen

Summary of the results

The present elaboration looks into the general trends in the whole data set from all countries. The survey in all countries has comprised over 900 students. Most of the students (70 %) were between 20-25 years of age and most of them were females (70 %). About 60 % of students were at the BSc level, the rest predominately MSc students and only 5 % of PhD students. The students represented all study years – in the similar proportions first, second and third year of study.

The biggest part of students (about 40 %) represented the food / nutrition science, next the agricultural / horticultural sciences, the environmental sciences and other study tracks.

According to the obtained results, the most important values for the students when buying food are taste, health, composition of products and price. The least important values are tropical production and seeking for tastes from childhood. There are differences between the countries in this respect. For the students from the German Universities (Kassel and Münster) animal welfare in much more important than for the students from Poland and Estonia. Health aspect is very important for Polish and Spanish students, while local production mostly for French, Italian and German students from Kassel Univ. (more than from the Münster Univ.).

Predominant part of students (> 80%) purchase food for their households, similar amount individually and sharing responsibility with somebody else. More than half of students (60 %) buy food 2-3 times a week or every day. Smaller part buys food once a week or even more rarely. Interestingly, Polish students buy food every day – more frequently comparing to other nationalities. German and Danish students buy food mostly 2-3 times a week. Spanish and French students declare buying food once a week.

More than 80 % of students cook every day or 2-3 times a week. These data together with frequent buying of food indicate that the idea of fresh diet is very close to most of respondents.

In the opinion of students the most important elements/features/characteristics of the Sustainable Food System (SFS) are: ‘maintains health ecosystems’, ‘makes nutritious food available, accessible and affordable to all’, and ‘has minimal negative impact on environment’. The least important is ‘is economically sound’.

Most of students are interested in SFS (about 70 %) and only small part (about 5 %) is not interested at all. Generally about half of students already had a course related to SFS during their studies, the rest had no such courses. In this respect the most advanced universities are ISARA (France), UNISG (Italy) and EULS (Estonia), and the least advanced is UPM (Spain).

It is interesting to know which topics related to sustainable food systems have been covered in the university education of the investigated students.

The most frequently covered topics are – surprisingly – permaculture, precision agriculture, food box schemes, and veganism. The least popular topics covered in the lectures are organic food and agriculture, food safety, but also conventional agriculture.

More than 80 % of all students think that a course in SFS will be useful for their future employment. The most interesting topics for the future teaching courses according to the students’ opinion are: organic agriculture and organic food, local food and fair trade. The least interesting are food box schemes and protected denomination of origin and protected geographical indication. The reason for the last result is probably because the students don’t understand that this means regional and traditional foods.

Most students (about 60%) prefer to have only a few lectures about SFS within other courses, the rest prefers a whole course, at least 15 hours.

Students were also asked to give their opinion about teaching methods. The most interesting teaching methods were for them field trips and excursions, international courses, seminars / interactive workshops and lectures with discussion. The least interesting were e-learning courses and regular lectures. From the students’ point of view the most interesting skills to be achieved while learning SFS were creative problem solving skills, ability to innovate and create and ability to make judgements and justify decisions. The least interesting skills were ability to search for relevant information and ability to work in a lab.