Mapping and analysing the diversity of food systems research at WUR
MSc Thesis Project
Rural Sociology & WCDI
Supervisors: Jessica Duncan (RSO) and Herman Brouwer (WCDI)
The topic: The concept of food systems has emerged recently as a buzzword. Across Wageningen University and Research (WUR) researchers are using the concept and applying it in different ways. This thesis will review the different ways food systems are being defined and applied across WUR.
The research process will involve:
- Literature review on food systems
- Data collection (e.g. comprehensive analysis of WUR-based activities around food systems; interviews)
- Analysis with the aim of: 1) mapping the food systems landscape at WUR; 2) categorizing the diversity of concepts and approaches; 3) analyzing points of coherence and contention across these concepts.
- Conclusions with possible recommendations
Pre-requisites: completed at least two social sciences courses (preferably with RSO); keen interest in food systems research; interdisciplinary background an asset.
Start date: ASAP
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image from Cultivate https://www.facebook.com/collectivecultivate/
On April 16th, Shi Yan, pioneer of the Community Supported Agriculture movement in China will visit Wageningen after participating in FAO’s International Symposium on Agroecology. During the day she will visit a selection of CSAs and in the evening she will give a presentation at Wageningen University.
Where: Room C013/VIP Room Forum Building
In 2008 Shi Yan started the first CSA of China in the area of Bejing as a joint project with her university, the district government, and the Renmin Rural Reconstruction Centre. By now some 800 CSA’s are operating around China.
Shi Yan had been inspired by her experience of working with Earthrise Farm, a small CSA in Minnesota, USA. “It changed my life,” says Shi Yan. She arrived there thinking that she would study its business model, “but when living there, I realised that farming is not just a model, it’s a lifestyle.” But she decided to move to the northwest corner of Beijing’s Haidian district to found and manage Little Donkey farm, going against the trend of young people abandoning rural villages for jobs in the city. After that she started Shared Harvest farm (http://sharedharvest.cn/), where she produces fresh food and also trains both farmers and school children.
With a growing middle class and expanding cities, fresh produce has become hard to come by in China. Novel food production and distribution systems are successfully meeting demands of urban residents in search of fresh and local produce. As the story of Shi-Yan tells, the CSA movement also offers opportunities to young people to shape their lifes according to a different set of principles from the average ‘big city’ way of life.
Shi Yan was a speaker at FAO’s Agroecology Symposium from 3-5 April 2018 where over 700 people attended. Learn more about Shi Yan and the CSA movement in China and join us on April 16th. More details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/413668762416251/
Are you too curious to wait? Check out this article in Farming Matters (June 2015): https://www.ileia.org/2015/06/09/community-supported-agriculture-thriving-china/
The state of Sitopia. Report of the 8th AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference
By Paul de Graaf, External PhD Candidate, Rural Sociology Group
In the fall of 2017 the 8th AESOP Sustainable Food Planning Conference took place in Coventry, hosted by the Center for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR). Since its inception in 2009 the Sustainable Food Planning department is one of the most active within AESOP (the Association of European Schools of Planning), indicating that food is back on the urban agenda, at least in academia. As a budding urban agriculture planner and researcher I attended the first two AESOP SFP conferences (Almere, 2009 and Brighton, 2010). Both were exciting meetings where pioneers from Europe and America – not only planners but also initiators, activists and scientists from other disciplines and people like Carolyn Steele (architect and writer of the seminal book Hungry City) – came together to discuss the then relatively new theme. I went to Coventry curious to see how the discussion has developed since those days and what is the state of affairs in the field in international perspective.
Call for papers open for the 1st International Conference on Biodynamic Research
Call for Papers: Evolving Agriculture and Food – Opening up Biodynamic Research
Taking place at Goetheanum in Dornach (Switzerland), September 5th to 8th 2018
Biodynamic research is done in any agricultural field, in many places of the world using a great diversity of methods and disciplines, getting in touch with many other research areas. Taking an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach, we aim to bring together both academic research and farmer’s expertise to explore and discuss issues in biodynamic food and farming systems. The perspective taken on these issues may be from a classical scientific point of view as well as from an innovative methodical standpoint.
This new biannual event will gather academics, scholars, PhD students, graduate students, farmer-researchers and action researchers from around the world to discuss the latest and most pressing issues in biodynamic agriculture, horticulture and food, dedicating significant attention also to new and alternative researching methods.
The partners of the organizer, the Section for Agriculture at the Goetheanum, are: The Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences of the University of Kassel, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and Forschungsring (Research in Biodynamic Agriculture, Darmstadt, Germany).
Call for papers is open : http://www.sektion-landwirtschaft.org/veranstaltungen/biodynamic-research-conference/call-for-papers/
More information at: www.sektion-landwirtschaft.org
Thesis Opportunity with Rural Sociology: What is inclusive when it comes to policy?
Proposed title: Inclusive approaches to policy making: Making sense of options for food policy
Key words: policy, inclusivity, civil society, multi-actor, stakeholder, co-production
Context: There have been increasing calls for more participation in policy making to allow for more inclusive policies. But what does this look like in practice? What models have been developed and tried? What has worked and what hasn’t? What are the implications of trying to be more inclusive. And, what does inclusivity even mean in a policy making context? The goal of this thesis is to start to answer these pressing questions and to related them to food policy.
Objective: The goal of this research is to identify and understand strategies for including people and their lived experiences, into policy making processes.
In this thesis, you will:
- Undertake a literature review into inclusive governance (theory and practice)
- Identify examples of inclusive governance from a broad range of sectors
- Create a database of examples
- Select an appropriate number of case studies to examine in greater depth
- Collect data (including via interviews) to support description and analysis
On the basis of this, you will be expected to deliver concrete outputs.
- Develop a clear research proposal building on a structured literature review and outlining clear methods for undertaking the research
- Collect relevant literature and empirical cases to support the answering of the research question.
- MSc thesis conforming to the criteria and quality indicators of the Rural Sociology Group.
Start date: February or March 2018
- You are registered in one of the following MSc programmes:
MID, MHS, MOA or MFQ
- You have an interest in participatory policy making, civil society, food security and food sovereignty
- You have some knowledge about theories of change
- You have completed at least 2 RSO courses (or relevant social science courses)
Supervisor: Dr Jessica Duncan (RSO)
If you are interested, please email Jessica Duncan (email@example.com ) with a short letter of motivation.
Seriously Sustainable Week 2017 is coming up and Wageningen University’s Green Office has organised an entire week, packed with all kinds of activities, from fun to serious, from small to big.
By Joëlla van de Griend
In-class debate on trade and food security
Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Economics, as part of the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability & Transcultural Studies (AGST), aims to contribute to sustainable development in Asia and throughout the world. Wageningen University’s Rural Sociology Group is a key partner in this platform. As a part of this partnership, Dr. Jessica Duncan has come to Kyoto University to teach a course on Global Food Security Governance.
Taking a sociological approach, the course covers a variety of angles to think about global food security governance. The course is attended by graduate students, PhD candidates and faculty members, which has contributed to rich discussions. Furthermore, amongst the participants there is a large variety of backgrounds and fields of expertise such as law, economics, development studies, business management, political science, and agricultural science with attendants coming from Asia, Europe and Africa.
One of the students attending the class is Wurihan. She decided to follow the course because of a growing interest in policy regarding food security. Before attending Kyoto University as a research student, she went to an agricultural university in China where she studied geographical information systems:
“I used to think that to ensure food security we should increase efficiency in production. But after I did some fieldwork I found it was more about policy and how this can sometimes turn out differently than policy makers intend.”
That is why she wants to learn more about food governance in order to understand how we can contribute to solutions of problems like the distribution of food and obesity.
As one of the objectives of the course is to explore the complexity of the thinking about food security, many theories and approaches are discussed and explored in class while using “framing” as a method to understand the different (often competing) perspectives.