We are preparing the next generation of educators, policymakers, and development practitioners who will be leaders in sustainable food systems and ethics. The program reflects global trends and drivers across increasingly interconnected food systems. Courses include:
We generate and disseminate new scientific evidence and ethics scholarship relevant related to food systems and challenges they face: climate and environment, social equity and justice, population growth, rapid urbanization and transformation.
Policy and Development
We provide guidance on ethical, political, social, health and nutrition issues connected to food systems. We are actively working to create innovative and sustainable solutions for more equitable food security.
Our unique niche is a trans-disciplinary approach that integrates perspectives from science, ethics, policy, and practice. We are working with partners to provide on-the-ground solutions and ensure that policymakers, farmers, and communities benefit from the best science and technology. Toward our ultimate goal is to build sustainable food systems, we will engage with the agriculture, ecology, health, and nutrition communities, civil society, social movements, and industry to capitalize on opportunities to share resources across sectors and minimize trade-offs. By working across disciplines and sectors, the we identify and investigate research questions at the frontier of the complex, often ethical issues underlying food system sustainability.
Thematic Focus Areas
We are working to generate solutions that address food system challenges while shedding light on how to feed the world well and ethically. Our research, education, and policy work spans four thematic areas:
Agriculture and Food Systems
Each year, it becomes more and more difficult for agriculture to achieve its primary objective: feeding the world. Population growth and changes in diet associated with rising incomes drive greater demand for food and other agricultural products. At the same time, global food systems are increasingly threatened by land degradation, climate change, and other stressors. There are uncertainties about regional and local impacts of climate change, but the overall global pattern suggests that the stability of the food system will be at significant risk due to short-term variability in food supplies. Our research seeks to inform policy action on locally relevant, ethically defensible solutions that can be implemented in a range of settings, including small- and large-scale farming in the rural context, and the connections between of rural and urban center food systems.
Sustainable Development Goal 2: Policy Research
Environment and Climate
How will increased food production to meet the demand for diverse diets affect the environment? The global food system is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, contributing 34% of the total. Ways to decrease emissions from deforestation, agricultural practices, and the processing, transport, and waste of food are among the most important challenges we face. We are working with regional, and national partners and other stakeholders around ethical issues related to these challenges. These collaborations seek to establish innovative, ethically sensitive metrics and models to understand how changes in supply and demand influence indicators of environmental and ecosystem health.
Conflict & Food and Water Resources
Nutrition and Health
As many as two billion people worldwide are affected by either obesity or chronic undernutrition. This arises from urbanization, demographic shifts, and changing dietary and lifestyle patterns. Increasing rates of obesity have become a public health crisis and require an urgent response. Increasing rates of obesity increase demands on both food and public health systems. Well-crafted responses from local farmers, international health workers, the global food industry, and governments are badly needed, but some possible responses raise challenging ethical issues. Many countries still face a significant burden of chronic undernutrition of young children, adolescent girls, and women, which require social justice action. We focus on food-based solutions, as well as global research and policy that place nutrition within a wider framework for development focused on equity.
Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture & Livelihoods
Healthy, Sustainable Diets and Food Systems
Global Nutrition Report (GNR)
Ethics, Social Justice and Democracy
Ethics is at the heart of the debate about feeding the world well and sustainably. At its core, this debate engages a range of compelling ethical values. These values are vast in scope and include:
- In the area of human welfare, ethical values focus on promoting individual and public health; assuring economic wellbeing; and respecting individual freedoms and cultural traditions, including the need to engage an active citizenry and food social movements that foster collective control over food and agricultural policy.
- In the area of planetary and animal wellbeing, ethical values include protection of the environment and minimization of animal suffering. These values can challenge potential solutions.
Health burdens, such as undernutrition and overweight and obesity, and the effects of climate change and environmental degradation tend to fall disproportionately on the world’s most disadvantaged people and groups—including poor women and children and the rural poor. The complexity of these issues underscores the need to pay careful, scholarly attention to the ethics both of the current state of the global food system and of any proposals to improve it. To illuminate the full ethical landscape of food issues, we must upon ethical theory, political and social philosophy, justice theory, and philosophy of science.
Beef, Food Choices, and Values
Global Food Ethics Project