MSc Thesis opportunity: Food Forests – the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve ‘Os Ancares’

Galicia is well-known for its green inlands, its landscape consisting of a patchwork of forests, pastures, and small meandering streams and rivers. Like elsewhere in Europe, rural dwellers moved from the more remote rural areas to the coastal urban centres where industries provided work. Remaining rural dwellers face difficulties with maintaining a living from forestry and farming in these areas which hold nature, and increasingly become recognised as high nature value (HNV) areas. People living from the land balance between being productive (e.g. produce cheap kilograms of meat for the food industries) and maintain natural values (such as the autochthonous forests, heterogeneous grasslands, bees, wildlife).

Study area for MSc projects is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve ‘Os Ancares’, a remote mountainous area in the inland of Galicia (in northwestern Spain).

In this context, MSc research projects can be formulated about:

  • Household production: mapping relations of households with forests and pastures in the area, either privately or communally owned land, with the aim to improve understanding of what and how the farmers in the area produce (food as well as other ecosystem services), how modes of production differ among farmers, how farmers benefit from farm activities, and how this relates to other household activities;
  • Collaborative approaches: identify and map initiatives that support rural development in the area (producer cooperatives and farmers’ markets, accountancy services, ecologist movements, regional rural development networks) with the aim to analyse and understand the social relations and values from which these initiatives emerge and develop;
  • Policy dynamics: aim is to deliver insight into the policy dynamics that enable, support, and proliferate endogenous rural development in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve ‘Os Ancares’, for which social relations and policy schemes are identified, interpreted, combined, and discussed with stakeholders in the area.

Researchers with extended networks in Galicia co-supervise these projects. For more information: Joost Jongerden

Seminar: Food, masculinity and environmental caring

We invite you to attend the CSPS Critical Food Studies Speaker Series on March 19th, featuring Emma Roe and Paul Hurley (University of Southampton). Their research explores the role of gender and care in sustainable diets.

When:    19 March 2019    15.30-17.30

Where:   Leeuwenborch, lecture hall C 62

Programme

15.30-15.40          Walk-in with coffee

15.40-15.45          Introduction and welcome (Dr Stefan Wahlen, CSPS Foodscapes Cluster)

15.45-17.00          Sustainable diets, masculinities and environmental caring: Gendered understandings of movements towards sustainable agro-food practices, Dr Paul Hurley & Dr Emma Roe, Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton

17.00-17.30          Discussion with drinks and bites

Abstract:

The impact of industrial scale food production poses significant threats to environmental sustainability. Despite the current rising trends of veganism, ‘flexitarianism’ and ‘reducetarianism’ in some areas, global levels of animal-based protein consumption are on the rise – between 1993-2013 global population increased by 29%, yet global demand for animals’ products increased by 62% (Food and Agriculture Organization (2014) State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014: In Brief (FAO, Rome)). The IPCC has recently suggested that dietary shifts (reducing meat consumption as well as shortening supply chains and lessening food waste), could play a significant factor in climate change mitigation (IPCC (2018) SR1.5).

An often overlooked dimension of sustainability issues is that of gender (see, for instance, UNFCCC’s work on Women and Climate Change).The performance of diverse masculinities is receiving increased attention more widely, following the popular critical label of ‘toxic masculinity’ and its association with a raft of negative practices from the #MeToo campaign, through to weak leadership on global environmental challenges. This is a timely moment to increase studies on the cultural, social and political dynamics that drive the performances of diverse forms of masculinity, in order to appraise how to offer more environmentally sustainable forms of living.

Recent work by Roe and Hurley in their project ‘Man Food: Exploring men’s opportunities for ‘Becoming an ecological citizen’ through protein-related food practices’, focusses explicitly on studying practices of being a man in relation to food and environmental caring. Through a series of participatory workshops, in which researchers cooked, ate and talked with groups of men, they have sought to understand more about the interaction of gendered identity norms and barriers to ecological caring and responsibility. Key findings of the project include the fact that a number of men had experienced shame and bullying about choosing vegetarian food options among groups of other men, and that others were willing to try alternatives to meat-based meals but hadn’t had the social reference points to encourage them to do so (lacking peers who didn’t eat meat, or the skills to cook vegetarian food). More recent work has begun to consider these gendered practices of food and environmental caring within the broader social and political contexts of populism, both in the UK and more widely.

 

Interested in space & place? Register now for ‘A Global Sense of Place’

RSO-55306_2018In period 5, from March 18 till April 26, we’ll be teaching again RSO-55306 A Global  Sense of Place: Place-based approaches to development.  Registration for the course is open until February 17, 2019.

A Global Sense of Place  is an optional interdisciplinary course on sustainable place-based development for students from various master programmes (e.g. MDR, MES, MID, MLP, MUE, MOA, MFN).  The course aims to make students acquainted with interdisciplinary and place-based approaches to development. This advanced MSc course might also be of interest to PhD candidates associated with the Centre for Space, Place and Society.

By means of this course students will achieve profound understanding in key-concepts and methods on place-based sustainable development. Work from key thinkers in sustainable place-making will be critically discussed and examined on the basis of various cases. Guest speakers are invited to reflect on place-based approaches to sustainable development and illustrate these through case studies. Ultimately students will acquire a place-based perspective on development.

Language of instruction and examination is English. Classes are taught on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon. See course schedule.

Key lecturers: Joost Jongerden, Dirk Roep and Anke de Vrieze (RSO).

For more information, please contact Anke de Vrieze, anke.devrieze@wur.nl.

Call for contributions

Cultivating hope while getting into trouble with Community Food Initiatives (CFIs)

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, August 28th-30th 2019

Session sponsored by: Food Geographies Working Group

Community food initiatives (CFIs), such as community gardens or food waste initiatives, are often framed as hopeful solutions to our troubled food system. Yet the actual interrelations of hope and trouble are rarely interrogated in locally specific contexts. Hope and trouble are often employed in partial and limiting ways. CFIs are critiqued for being too hopeful, reproducing existing troubles (e.g. racism, power, privilege, and exclusion). Other readings strategically avoid the dominance of trouble, to leave space for hope and possibility. Neither approach is sufficient. Moreover, binary affects of hope and trouble can create methodological tensions that effect our own abilities to engage in action research that is both critical and reparative, hopeful and troubling.

The aim of this session is to develop new methodological, theoretical, and practice-based approaches for interrogating CFIs as sites of hope and trouble. Exploring diverse organizational forms, actors, benefits, and impacts, enables an understanding of their hopes, best intentions, and generative capacities as well as their troubles, failures, and limitations. We are interested in new stories and tools for helping researchers and community food initiatives “get into trouble” in our food system.

We welcome empirically, methodologically, and/or theoretically driven papers and discussions that engage with the hope and trouble of community food initiatives, such as:

  • Food waste initiatives
  • Food banks
  • Community gardens
  • Alternative food networks
  • Solidarity purchasing groups
  • Food Cooperatives
  • Social enterprises
  • Food advocacy organizations

We propose a format of two successive sessions. The first session follows the general structure of paper presentations followed by time for questions and short discussions. We use the second session for more thorough in-depth discussion. The first hour will be used for a world cafe setting to discuss recurrent themes in groups. We will use the last forty minutes for a ‘talk show’: we ask a representative from each table to come forward. We will then discuss the findings of each group by way of a talk show format: one interviewer asks questions to the representatives, potentially leading to discussions or an exchange of ideas. With this set-up we hope to elicit lively discussions on the topic, from various viewpoints and entry points.

Please contact the convenors to indicate whether you would like to present a paper and/or whether you would like to participate in the world cafe. Paper abstracts due by February 1st.

Session Convenors: Esther Veen (esther.veen@wur.nl), Oona Morrow (oona.morrow@wur.nl), Stefan Wahlen (stefan.wahlen@wur.nl), Anke de Vrieze (anke.devrieze@wur.nl)

 

Thesis Opportunities: Social Economies of food, agriculture, and nature in Gelderland.

Social economy is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of third sector, cooperative, voluntary, non-profit, and social enterprise initiatives that put social and environmental well-being before profit.  They operate in different sectors of the economy, and provide a number of important goods and services – that range from food to social services and care. The social economy is also an important part of the solidarity economy, a term used to describe diverse economic practices that seek to strengthen local economies and communities and create alternatives as a form of resistance to the social, economic, and environmental injustices associated with capitalism, colonialism, racism, and neoliberalism. The cities of Ede, Arnhem, and Nijmegen are home to a growing number of social economy initiatives, especially in the areas of agriculture, food, and nature (e.g. ecosystems services, green infrastructure). Here they play a vital, yet often unrecognized role. With these three thesis topics –  on (WP1) mapping, (WP2) diverse economies analysis, and (WP3) assessment –  we hope to change that.

Start date: January or February 2019

Qualifications:           

  • You are able to conduct qualitative research in Dutch.
  • You are able to engage diverse stakeholders in participatory and collaborative research
  • You can use basic excel and mapping tools (WP1)
  • You have an interest in diverse economies and social innovation (WP2).
  • You have some experience in assessment and evaluation (WP3)
  • You are registered for one of the following MSc programmes: MID, MCS, MLP, MFT, or MOA
  • You have completed at least 2 RSO courses (or relevant social science courses)

Questions? Please get in touch!

Supervisors: Oona Morrow (RSO) oona.morrow@wur.nl and Jan Hassink (PRI) jan.hassink@wur.nl

  1. Mapping social economy in food-health valley

What/ Where is the social economy in food-health valley?

This MSc thesis will seek to inventory and categorize social enterprises in the greater Ede, Arnhem, and Nijmegen region. Through online research and field research you will construct a database and map of social economy initiatives in the agriculture, food and nature domains providing social services. You will work closely with a MSc student specializing in diverse economies to develop a typology for categorizing these initiatives in terms of their organizational model, funding, sector and services,  etc. The data you collect is important for measuring the size and scope of the social economy. And ultimately for making the social economy visible to itself, the general public and policymakers. You will organize several stakeholder events in each city to reflect on the reflect on your data, and also what is missing. You will use your research practice to strengthen existing social economy networks in the region by bringing stakeholders together. Your MSc thesis will thus also reflect on the role of mapping as a method for making networks visible.

  1. Diverse economies of social economy in food-health valley

What are the diverse economies of the social economy?

This MSc thesis will work closely with the Mapping the social economy thesis to adapt the diverse economies framework (Gibson-Graham 2008) to create a typology of social economy initiatives and practices. You will draw upon  the database and map created by MsC 1 to select case studies from several different sectors (e.g. food, agriculture, nature care, etc.) and analyse them for their diverse economic practices and business and funding models. You will examine the social and institutional relationships and policies that shape these practices – e.g. health policy, access to land from the city. And identify emerging social innovations and best practices to share within this network social economy initiatives.

  1. Co-designing Impact and Assessment tools for social economy initiatives in food-health valley

What are the impacts of the social economy, and how can we measure them?

Social economy initiatives have important goals. But how do they know they are achieving them? What metrics and indicators are meaningful? And what types of evaluation tools are actually useful and usable ? And how can they best communicate their impact (to funders, policy makers, and participants)? You will answer these questions, in collaboration with social economy initiatives working in different sectors of the region. Together you will co-design impact and assessment tools that are tailored to the unique needs of social economy initiatives yet also replicable and can be implemented by the initiatives. You will organize communities of practice around evaluation that are rooted in the concrete needs and practices of different sectors.

Further Reading:

Amin, A. (Ed.). (2013). The social economy: International perspectives on economic solidarity. Zed Books.

Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2008). Diverse economies: performative practices for other worlds’. Progress in Human Geography32(5), 613-632.

Gibson-Graham, J. K., Cameron, J., & Healy, S. (2013). Take back the economy: An ethical guide for transforming our communities. University of Minnesota Press.

Loh, P., & Agyeman, J. (2018). Urban food sharing and the emerging Boston food solidarity economy. Geoforum.

Miller, E. (2010). Solidarity Economy. In Eds. E. Kawano, T. Masterson, and J. Teller-Ellsberg. Solidarity Economy I: Building Alternatives for People and Planet. Amherst, MA: Center for Popular Economics. 2010

 

Foodscapes of the sharing economy

On the 25th of September, the Foodscapes cluster of the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS) organised a critical food studies work shop on the food sharing economy. We invited Karin Dobernig from Vienna to talk about the research that she conducted with her colleague Karin Schanes.

Karin gave a very interesting and inspiring talk on “Collective Action Around Food Waste: Investigating the determinants and characteristics of participation in food sharing initiatives”.

After the talk there was plenty of time to discuss food sharing in more detail. We tried to link the concept of foodscape to that of food sharing, and raised and discussed various questions. For instance, to what extent is food sharing an urban phenomenon? When sharing food, who is liable and should food savers and food sharers accept responsibility? How is this organised in different countries? Also, to what extent does food sharing cross the binary opposition between consumers and producers? Who are the recipients of food sharing, and should they always be in need? There were no clear answers to these questions that can easily be reproduced here, but the discussion was insightful.

This was the first activity organised by the Foodscapes cluster. We much enjoyed the presentation and the discussions. Hoping for more inspiring meetings in the future!

Critical food studies workshop and seminar series

The Foodscapes cluster of the Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS) is pleased to announce the following workshop:

Foodscapes of the sharing economy

25 September 2018 – 13.45-17.00

Room C 62 in de Leeuwenborch (Hollandseweg 1, Wageningen)

During the recent decade, new modes of food provisioning have emerged under the guise of the sharing economy. A dominant picture of initiatives in the sharing economy is associated with platform capitalism and the gig economy. Yet, a variety of initiatives are using the tools of the sharing economy to promote sustainable consumption, thereby reducing our dependence on commercial activity and reducing the use and reliance on material possessions. This seminar will scrutinize the interconnections of the sharing economy and food, people and places. We are interested in food in the sharing economy, how exchanges are performed, by whom, and to what end. We want to provide an embodied understanding of food and place in the sharing economy. We are interested in issues of social, spatial and environmental justice, health and well-being in the sharing economy.

Program

13.45 – 14.00   Walking in

14.00 – 14.15   Introduction

14.15 – 15.00   Karin Dobernig and Karin Schanes: Collective Action Around Food Waste: Investigating the determinants and characteristics of participation in food sharing initiatives

15.00 – 15.15   Discussion

15.15 – 15.30   Coffee break

15.30-16.30     Roundtable discussion

With Karin Dobernig, Karin Schanes, Esther Veen, Oona Morrow, Stefan Wahlen

16.30-17.00     Drinks

About the foodscapes cluster:

The Foodscapes cluster brings together a variety of academic researchers and PhD candidates at Wageningen University, who are engaged in the multi-disciplinary domain of critical food studies.

 

Sign up for #SUSPLACE2019 Final Event, May 7-10 in Tampere

The EU funded MSCA ITN project www.susplace.net is coming to an end in 2019 and for that matter a Final Event is organised to celebrate the results of the 15 research projects so far and the effort the project makes to further sustainability transformations as a science and as practice. One can now sign up and submit an abstract for a contribution. For more information see: www.lyyti.fi/p/susplace2019

The rise of Community Supported Agriculture in China

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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

When: 19:00-21:30

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/