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Eating Tomorrow (2012)

Eating Tomorrow - rethinking the world food system

The third ETH Sustainability Summer School was a great success. The participants have worked on real life case studies within the field of the world food system: smallholder livelihoods, food waste and urban farming. At the end of the three week program, the students proudly presented their work to a broad audience at the HUB Zurich and in «Frau Gerolds Garten».
The multifunctional aquaponics system exhibited at «Frau Gerolds Garten» attracted a great deal of attention. It consists of a vegetable patch at the top and a fish tank at the bottom. The water from the fish tank circulates trough the vegetable patch and thus reduces the water consumption by 80-90% compared to conventional models. Further, the fish excreta server as fertilizer for the plants whereas the plants clean the water for the fish. In the mean time, the aquaponics system was moved to «SeedCity», the community garden at the ETH Hönggerberg campus.?

The final reports can be found here:
Smallholder Livelihoods >>
Food Waste >>

Urban Farming >>

Ideas into Action

With the summer school 2012, the ETH Zurich wants to introduce innovative and sustainable approaches to secure our global food supply and find new ways of confronting the mayor challenges associated with food security. For three weeks, the ETH Zurich will create an environment in which interdisciplinary and international teams can work together with industry partners to create solutions for concrete case studies.
Important learning goals are to:

A global Challenge

Food is one of the most basic human needs, but famine is still not a thing of the past. Having said that, we?re also at a point were more than 1.1 billion people worldwide are overweight. Although quite different in their appearance, they are just the two sides of the same coin, a world food system out of balance. Rising food prices and subsequent riots, environmental pollution and degradation as well as climate change are other consequences. And causes at the same time.

Besides from understanding this complex and intertwined system, the greatest challenges are to make food production sustainable while controlling greenhouse gas emission, conserving dwindling water supplies and decreasing biodiversity. This will require a revolution in the social and natural sciences concerned with food production, as well as a breaking down of barriers between fields. The goal is no longer simply to maximize productivity, but to optimize across a far more complex landscape of production, environmental, and social justice outcomes.


The participants of the summer school will be composed of 15 students from the ETH Zurich and 15 students from other academic institutions, in addition to faculty members and industry partners coming from various fields of expertise. During the first week, students will receive an introduction to all topics relevant to the world food system and its related fields. This will occur through a series of lectures and workshops conducted by both local and international experts as well as inputs speeches by and discussions with sustainability pioneers. In weeks 2 and 3, students will be split into the three thematic groups to carry out a guided case study from an industry partner, and to gain further input through lectures, workshops and excursions in one of the three topics:

A Strong Team

Successful projects are the result of dedicated individuals and teams. The ETH Sustainability Summer School Programme will be organised by ETH Sustainability, the central hub for coordinating sustainability activities at ETH Zurich, and the World Food Systems Competence Centre in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Systems Science, the Department Health Sciences and Technology, the Department of Architecture, Eawag, NADEL, the Club of Rome, Exploration Architecture, Federal Office for Agriculture, FiBL, Halba and Helvetas. Input and support for the formulation of individual case studies is provided by selected firms and institutes that occupy a leading role in the field of sustainable development namely the FAO, Syngenta and the Urban Farmers.

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Download information >here (PDF 2.8 MB)

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