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.
By Joëlla van de Griend
‘Mountains covered with woods’ is used to describe the green area of Keihoku, just outside of Kyoto City. As part of the AGST program, students and faculty members visited a farming event organized by the Shinfujin Kyoto (the new Japan Women’s Association) and the Nouminren Kyoto (Japan Family Farmers Movement).
Participants transplanting rice: Our academic hosts were not afraid to get their hands and feet dirty!
This event tries to make the connection between farmers and consumers and is visited by a lot of families. We can look at it as a celebration of what the earth has given to both farmers and consumers, illustrated by the waving flags showing the text: ‘Hug the Mother Earth’. For example, one of the farmers I met told me about how he grows his rice in the village at the foot of the mountain without making use of chemicals.
One of the organizations responsible for the event, Shinfujin, is a women’s organization that aims to promote environmental protection and emancipation but is also a movement to oppose the comeback of militarism in Japan. Many of the members of this organization are young mothers who are concerned with a variety of crises that could become a threat to their children’s future. This farming event however was more a celebration than a protest, with a vibrant temporary market with products and food stalls, activities, and the possibility to experience transplanting rice plants into the rice paddies. Continue reading
By Ilona Matysiak, visiting guest of the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw, Poland
The idea is quite simple: to combine agricultural production with health and social services provided to people with different types of disabilities. However, it’s really hard to imagine or understand a care farm if you have never seen such a thing. One of the most important goals of my four-week research stay at the University of Wageningen was to unburden my imagination and see them for real. Continue reading
Click here for a video and news item of Omroep Flevoland (in Dutch only).
Our pilot project ‘Healing Gardens’ has finally started! From this week onwards (former) cancer patients will garden on a weekly basis at Parkhuys, a social support center for cancer patients in Almere. The participants will garden in containers (square foot gardening) from April until October, under supervision of two experienced gardeners.
As gardening is an outdoor activity that requires bending and stretching and gardeners work with fruits and vegetables, it seems a good way to get physical exercise, eat healthily, and take up vitamin D – all important aspects for people who have or are recovering from cancer. Moreover, the hypothesis is that when people like what they do – for most people gardening is more enjoyable than visiting a gym – it will be easier to maintain such healthy behavior. Finally, people may experience social support from the peers with whom they are working, without having to join specific social support groups.
Two years ago the first seeds for this project were planted – last week Ellen Kampman, professor of Human Nutrition, elderman Rene Peeters, Henk Wolfert from AMS institue and Astrid Heijnen from Donkergroen officially opened the project during a festive event. This pilot project is the start of what will hopefully become a bigger project – if we manage to get finance, we aim to start a larger garden (or several gardens) with a larger number of participants.
Although the project in its current form is too small to measure whether gardening really makes people more fit, it will help us gain insights into what would make such a project successful (individual gardens or a communal garden, for example, or the addition of cooking workshops). We also hope to get a better understanding of the extent to which this group activity leads to social support. Moreover, we may find indications for health effects.
Healing Gardens is supported by Flevo Campus and Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS ) institute. Donkergroen sponsored the square foot gardening containers.
From March 7-11, 2017 the Global Peasants Rights Congress took place in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany. Federico Andreotti, MSc-student Organic Agriculture of Wageningen University, participated in the event. Federico made the video report above and wrote the blog below about the event with support from the ‘Boerengroep‘ (Peasant Foundation).
Reclaiming New Peasantries’ Rights: Social Movements and Foxy Entrepreneurs Continue reading
Promising insights into local pathways to food and nutrition security – http://wp.me/p6RmNs-8D
The first contender for the annual award of the University Fund Wageningen (UFW) is, according to the jury, a lecturer who is to be praised for her enthusiasm and audacity. Someone who is not afraid to tackle her lectures in a different way and is always open to feedback on her methods.
At the Rural Sociology Group we are very proud that Jessica Duncan is one of the six nominees for the Teacher of the Year award. The official ceremony in which the Teacher of the Year Award 2017 will be handed out is on April 6, 2017.
On the 30th of March there will be a Green Train event in Almere, hosted by RUAF:
Urban Green Train Multiplier Event
Date: Thursday 30 March 2017 14.00 – 17.30
Location: Aeres, Almere, Stadhuisstraat 18 Almere
Urban Agriculture is increasingly seen as a promising area for new business development. However, starting an Urban Farm requires a variety of knowledge and skills. Knowing how to cultivate plants or rear animals does not guarantee success; you also need to be able to analyse markets and social networks, plan and respond strategically to new trends, as well as to manage and monitor results once your businesses is up and running. It is also crucial to be innovative, sustainable and make optimal use of multifunctional resources. The Urban Green Train project, that was realised in the last years with a team from 4 European countries, encourages and supports pioneering business initiatives in Urban Agriculture by strengthening knowledge exchange, cooperation and innovation between Higher Education Institutions, Small & Medium Enterprises, NGOs and policy makers. In this multiplier event, we share some of our findings and results, including an innovative Training course on Urban Agriculture, innovation and entrepreneurship.
For more information about this event, click here.
Wageningen University’s School of Social Sciences (WASS) will be offering a PhD course in May and June 2017 called Gender and Diversity in Sustainable Development. Bettina Bock and Jessica Duncan, both from RSO, will lecture in this course.
Inequality lies at the center of current debates about sustainable development, from which a number of policy issues, including Sustainable Development Goals, emanate. Yet, how social (in)equality contributes to creating sustainable development often remains invisible in research. This course enables participants to recognize linkages between gender and diversity and sustainable development in a contemporary globalising world.
The topics covered in this course are:
- Introduction: key concepts in gender studies
- Trends form a historical perspective
- Economics: macro and micro perspectives
- Work and care
- Population and migration
- Food security and governance
- Environment and natural resource management
- Global politics
This course will be a seminar. We will take a highly interactive learner-centered approach that combines short lectures with group-based learning activity and discussion. A series of instructors with gender and diversity expertise from WUR and other universities will discuss the relevance of the themes discussed in our class to their own domains.
More information is available here: http://www.wur.nl/en/Education-Programmes/PhD-Programme/Graduate-Schools/Wageningen-School-of-Social-Sciences/Courses/Show-1/Gender-Diversity-in-Sustainable-Development.htm
Last autumn Jordan Treakle successfully defended his Master of Science thesis ‘Agricultural cooperatives and the social economy in Kenya’s changing governance landscape’ in Wageningen’s Rural Sociology Group to complete his International Master in Rural Development. Below a synopsis of the thesis. Continue reading