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PhD position: Learning from food systems transitions - enabling community resilience, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

Date
WUR

Advertiser's description (via Wageningen University & Research):

The Social Sciences Group (SSG) at Wageningen University is looking for a motivated PhD candidate to study relations between food system transitions and community resilience. The position is based in the Rural Sociology Group (RSO) and will be supervised by Professor Han Wiskerke and Dr Jessica Duncan with active supervision and collaboration with Dr Sietze Vellema from the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group (KTI), and Dr Marion Herens from Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI).

Broad scope of the project
Advancing sustainable and inclusive development requires fundamental changes in the institutional architecture of food provisioning. Food insecurity continues to be major societal challenge, catalysed by the implications of climate change, biodiversity loss, pandemics, political conflicts, and war. Thus, unpredictability and uncertainty are major challenges currently confronting food provisioning systems. 

A gap in research addressing these challenges relates to the prevailing assumptions and normative frames underlying (and reproducing) current food system rationalities. Solutions for the aforementioned challenges are often sought within formal food economies and globalized and industrialized agri-food value chains. As a result, the potential of highly contextual and self-organized forms of food provisioning is neglected or misunderstood. The PhD-project endeavours to not only problematize prevailing norms but also make visible alternatives. 

The proposed PhD project will analyse and compare alternative and self-organized pathways for food system transition, with a specific interest in unravelling how local communities and small and medium food enterprises creatively respond to the challenges related to crises and risks affecting food and nutrition security. The PhD research will include an interest in pathways emerging in the Global South while allowing space for comparative research. We look for empirical studies of community or territorial-level mechanisms to expose what enables or constrains food provisioning systems to increase access to healthy, nutritious, affordable, and culturally appropriate food in the context of crises or shocks.

The starting point for the research is locally embedded initiatives, ranging from self-provisioning and food sharing to the ways in which smallholder producers, processors and traders are integrated into agri-food chains. Inserting knowledge from situated modus operandi into mainstream policy and practice may form an entry point for scaling resilient and self-organized practices and catalysing transformative processes. Studies will question:

  • How do self-organized food provisioning networks and markets emerge from or sustain in times of food crises, including those related to lockdowns?
  • How do community initiatives promote food security and healthy eating?
  • Which values are at stake, and which governance and/or organizational principles guide such efforts?

 

The PhD is fully funded and includes a salary and benefits. Find more information here. Apply by 10 April.

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