Food and Sustainability

500px Photo ID: 80357815 - Last year's crop - A corn cob survives the winter to sustain the local wildlife into spring

Last Year’s Crop
Chris Fletcher

The Project
What is food justice? How can we create sustainable food systems? What are the best ways to engage institutions of higher education in the quest for food security, poverty reduction and environmental justice? What are the benefits in creating a network of academic researchers, community activists, government officials and policy makers for the development of socially inclusive, ecologically minded and sustainable food systems?

This research stream sets out to investigate the ways in which communities stakeholders and institutions of higher learning have joined forces in the pursuit of environmental justice, to create sustainable food systems, fight poverty, and make good nutrition available to all. We wish to explore the ways in which academics, working with allies in their communities, have made universities and colleges more engaged in the creation of solutions for the urgent social problem of food insecurity. The research stream has a global focus; it aims to facilitate dialogue and spark innovative collaborations and discussions at the international level. We welcome presentations and participation from all disciplines, professions and vocations, going beyond the academic world and bringing together researchers, community activists and community stakeholders engaged in food justice, to explore their collaborations within and outside the academic world.

Who Should Get Involved?
Academic and Community Research Partnerships: how can community-campus partnerships be designed and implemented to maximize the value created for non-profit, community-based organizations, and community members? We wish to explore how these research partnerships have provided community-friendly and innovative programming to facilitate sustainable food production and distribution of good nutrition, policy reform and best practices at the governmental level. Ultimately the goals of such partnerships would be transform social policies as well as provide frameworks to improve governance at all levels, and improve the ways in which community organizations, post-secondary institutions and funding agencies can work together for better social outcomes for all members of society.

The Outcomes
Transforming the Learning Environment through Action Research: we wish to explore the creation of innovative programming in higher learning institutions for Action Research. According to CIFCE (Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement; “Community Food Security” is possible when conditions exist to allow all residents obtain nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate diets, which originate and are grown in environmentally sustainable food systems. We are interested in investigating how academia and other institutions of higher learning have helped in creating the conditions necessary for “food security”. What best practices for Community Service Learning (CSL) have been introduced and how have they been specifically tailored to maximize food justice? We are interested in finding out how professors have managed to engage their students in Action Research, the process of learning while “giving back” to their communities, by becoming activists in food justice initiatives. What courses and research plans have been introduced, what “hands on” projects have students and academic researchers put into action and harnessed to create food security in their communities?