News & Events

Nutritional Sciences Program changes name to Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health

Students harvesting squash at UW Farm

The University of Washington Nutritional Sciences Program is now known as the Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Program, effective Jan. 1, 2024. 

The renaming process began before the pandemic when program faculty and stakeholders suggested that a new name could better align with the program’s mission; the scope of its current educational programs, teaching and research; and its vision for growth in the next decade. 

The name choice was voted on by core program faculty in 2023 who intended the change to both highlight the program’s continued leadership in training nutritional science, public health nutrition, and dietetics students while also illustrating the broadened focus to sustainable food systems, and on training the future food systems workforce.  

A call for collaboration among food systems programs in higher education to train the future workforce was recently authored by UW and WSU faculty members in a perspective article in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 

“Many of the world’s most pressing societal problems — including climate change, food insecurity and social inequities — are rooted in or related to challenges at the interface between food systems, nutrition and health. Meeting these challenges requires truly interdisciplinary mindsets and approaches. Our research and training programs span traditional academic disciplines and structures and the new name for the program reflects that orientation and commitment,” said School of Public Health Dean Hilary Godwin. 

Over the last five to ten years, the program has offered an expanding array of classes and collaborations at the undergraduate and graduate-level. Undergraduate and graduate courses added in recent years show how food systems issues and population and planetary health are interconnected. Examples of these courses include NUTR 514 Sustainable Food Systems for Population Health, and NUTR 490 Sustainable Animal Agriculture, which explores sustainable animal agriculture complexities and tradeoffs.  
“We are excited about the opportunities ahead for our program. We will continue to provide leadership and education in nutritional sciences and public health nutrition, and expand our focus on sustainable food systems,” said Interim Program Director Michelle Averill. 

The program is home to over 415 undergraduate and graduate students, comprised of an undergraduate major in food systems, nutrition and health, a nutrition minor, graduate degree programs in public health nutrition and nutritional sciences, and a graduate-level coordinated program in dietetics. The undergraduate major in Food Systems, Nutrition and Health was launched in 2018; it is now the second largest program housed in the School of Public Health and continues to be in high demand. 

Program core faculty bring an interdisciplinary lens to teaching their respective areas of discipline and hold affiliations with epidemiology, environmental and occupational health sciences, health systems and population health, and global health.  

While the name change has been approved effective Jan. 1, 2024, the transition will be staged. The change will be implemented on the most public-facing channels first, and then on a rolling basis throughout program and School materials and communications. We thank you for your patience as we work through this process. 

February 12, 2024