The Plant Futures Challenge Lab is the first multidisciplinary, University-level course that focuses specifically on equipping students with applied learning experiences in the plant-based food and agriculture sectors.
The course is currently offered for academic credit by UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley School of Public Health, UC Los Angeles, and Harvard University (Spring 2023)
Students and young professionals around the world apply for the opportunity to spend 14 weeks working collaboratively with a Challenge Lab Partner (CLP).
We carefully select a cohort of CLP’s that are supporting transitions to healthy, equitable, and plant-rich food systems. Becoming a CLP is a great way to harness the power of students, carefully selected from PFI’s global network, to work on a real-world, food systems challenge or idea that your organization might be facing that is aligned with their skills and values.
The Lab is designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry and create pathways to livelihood for the next generation of food systems change-makers.
Partners & Students interested in joining the course, please fill out the interest form above. We hope you will join us!
Kassandra Bacon, Public Health
Team Diet ID
“The Plant Futures Challenge Lab has pushed me beyond my comfort zone unlike any other course! The intimate collaboration with individuals of varying backgrounds and expertise is the exact interdisciplinary experience I was seeking. Plant Futures has given me the chance to be at the forefront of sustainable food systems innovation and entrepreneurship, which is a driving force in public health transformation.”
Sarah Han, Public Health
“The Plant Futures Challenge Lab is definitely a highlight of my semester. As an MPH student, I am learning so much from collaborating with MBA students and mentors from the plant-based food industry and from being out of my comfort zone. It is incredibly rewarding to actually apply the project management and data analysis skills and content knowledge from my coursework to an actual product IRL.”
Betsabe Castro Escobar, Integrative Biology
“The Plant Futures lab is not just a class. It’s an incubator for future plant-based food system entrepreneurs and change-makers. Classes like this one are why UC Berkeley has a leading reputation in shaping our future leaders, thinkers, and innovators. For me, being part of this course has been eye-opening and has provided a valuable opportunity to work with a leading business partner and explore possible career alternatives.”
Dalia Benchimol, Business
“This is my last semester at Berkeley and I wanted to take the opportunity to express how transformational this class was for me. Before this class I knew I was interested in getting involved with the food industry but this class definitely reaffirmed and strengthened my passion for working in this field, especially with emerging brands that are transforming the food system.”
Lavanya Jain, Business & Bioengineering
“What I enjoyed most about this class is the opportunity for hands-on learning. Many times in an academic setting, we aren’t able to apply what we learn to the real world. Being able to help a company and knowing your work is impactful is extremely rewarding.”
Megan Huff, Nutrition
“I enjoyed being able to work with teammates across different disciplines and of different stages in their education as well as with an amazing organization where I was able to make connections to professionals in the plant-based food space.”
Ariana Alvarez, Business
“I've enjoyed collaborating with people with various backgrounds and ages. The group's diversity has helped me learn a lot and see different perspectives but our common interest in the class and the food industry has helped us bond and find a driving force for the project.”
Ella Suh, Business
“I enjoyed every part of this class. The supportive nature of this class has provided me multiple opportunities to connect with various experts and professionals in the industry”
Aga Gugala, Business
“I loved being able to use many different skill sets, from creative to more quantitative, to tackle problems and align on a concrete and tangible product idea.”
Dale Watkins, Business
“I've really enjoyed the opportunity to take a very open-ended challenge and follow it through the various stages of development to a final product recommendation for our partner. The challenge also offered a great balance between entrepreneurial creativity and analysis.”
Neda Bazofti, Business
“I definitely plan to use my findings from this class in the future within my workplace. Not only were our findings relevant for all plant-based organizations, but they were helpful to think of in a marketing lens in general.”
Brittany Quy, Public Health
“Getting to work with our challenge partners was a really great experience. I also enjoyed practicing my professional skills, networking, and learning about something completely new.”
David L. Katz, MD, MPH | Diet ID
Founder & CEO
“Our participation in this course was extremely rewarding. The students were bright, insightful, and dedicated, and made contributions of real value to our team. Can we do this again? Sign us up!”
Nate Crosser | Blue Horizon
“Plant Futures allowed me to immediately plug into a group of exceptionally bright, mission-driven students for a strategic analytical project benefitting my organization and the greater alternative protein ecosystem. The structure and programming of the course allowed me to focus on core project work without the hassle of recruitment. It felt great to provide a mentorship opportunity to students while also receiving a valuable business deliverable.”
Carl Jorgensen | PBFA
“I was struck by the diverse academic and professional interests of the students. It was rewarding to see students at different levels of their post-secondary education working together. The result of this diversity was a richer result as unexpected questions were asked and more innovative solutions were found.”
Samantha Lubow | CalDining
“Working with the Plant Futures class was an absolute pleasure. The team was thorough and professional when helping to create frameworks and mechanisms to evaluate our current menu offerings. They connected with our chefs to learn more about the challenges we face and inspired our chefs to continue taking a flavor-forward approach to promoting plant- based diets within our dining program. I look forward to working with the Plant Futures class again.”
Luis Marcos Hernandez | CalDining
Director of Culinary Services
“Cal Dining thoroughly enjoys and appreciates any opportunity to work with the future professionals of the world. We all learn something from each other and it is invaluable for us as an organization to be able to gather information and find ways to implement ideas. Our goal is to methodically push forward with providing responsible choices, quality products, and a memorable experience for our guests."
Jay Karandikar | Unovis Asset Management
"I had a great experience working with the students on this year's challenge lab. We worked on a project that has real-world significance for the plant-based food industry and the students received input from startups in the space. I think that the resulting tool will be a useful resource for entrepreneurs entering the space."