First Ever Online Course on Edible Insects Launched

Global interest in insects as human food or animal feed keeps growing. Can insects really save humanity from environmental destruction, or help feed our ever-growing population? Why are some people more willing to accept insects as food than others? What can be done to make insects more appealing, or useful, or cheaper to produce?

To help answer these questions, Prof. Matan Shelomi of the Department of Entomology at National Taiwan University (NTU) has created a massive open online course, or MOOC, about edible insects that is now available for free on the Coursera learning platform.

It is based on his in-person class, “Edible Insects,” which since he first offered it in 2018 has grown to be one of NTU’s most popular elective courses, with a waiting list each semester of several hundreds of students.

As demand grew beyond what the Professor and his teaching assistants could reasonably manage, he worked together with the NTU Digital Learning Center for over a year to make an online version of the popular course, to more easily share its content with even more people.

“This class covers everything,” says Shelomi. “Cooking, farming, marketing, processing, the law, economics, nutrition, safety, ecology, entomology, environmental studies, social studies, cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy… no matter your background or interests, there is something for you.

The course, taught in English, consists of six modules of 12 short lectures each, starting with broad topics like why people eat or avoid certain foods, then delving into edible insects worldwide, their pros and cons, how to produce and sell them, and other insect products outside of food. It’s one of only two MOOCs on Coursera about insects, and the first anywhere about insects as food or feed.

Shelomi hopes that by putting this course online, free for anyone worldwide, he can not only help people make informed decisions about the role insects may play in their future, but also share his love of both insects and adventurous eating with the general public. It’s always great to see more educational content about insects as food, especially when it’s free!