How to Make a Just Food Future: Hopeful collaborations transforming local food partnerships

Session Convenors
Megan Blake, University of Sheffield m.blake@SHEFFIELD.AC.UK
Agatha Herman, Cardiff University
Rebecca Sandover, University of Exeter

Two RGS-IBG 2019 sessions will follow up themes explored in FGWG’s University of Sheffield conference that reflect on a range of issues related to ‘How to Make a Just Food Future’.  The linked sessions will bring together academics, practitioners and policymakers to reflect on the issues facing food systems, explore the potential for change to emerge from local, regional and trans-local food policy initiatives, investigate the role of the researcher in supporting and analysing these processes and setting out the limitations of these approaches.  A more integrative approach to food policy thinking is being progressed, it is argued, by city, regional and trans-local initiatives that enable policymakers to work with civil society actors on common issues (Betsill & Bulkeley 2007, Morgan & Sonnino 2010, Moragues-Faus & Carroll 2018). Globalised and trans-local networks of civil society food actors, such as Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, who work for more just and sustainable policies, are emerging as coherent voices for a reconfigured food system (Sonnino et al. 2016, Moragues-Faus & Morgan 2015).

Through networks in the UK such as The Sustainable Food Cities Network, Transition Towns, Incredible Edible, Fareshare, Real Junk Food Projects, City Farms, School Farm Networks, The Landworkers’ Alliance (and more) localised and trans-local initiatives are creating collaborative partnerships to change food policy and food programmes. These partnerships commonly involve a range of practitioner, professional, activist and academic members and require innovative adaptions by academics to complex research environments (Levkoe et al. 2018, Pain, Kesby, & Askins 2011, Tornaghi 2014). Other academics, however, express concern at the limitations of these localised approaches as they form a limited response to the inherent injustices of global Agri-Food systems and can be easily ignored (Agyeman 2013, Blake 2018, Herman, Goodman & Sage 2018).

These linked sessions will explore the processes and practices of these collaborative partnerships by exploring:

  • What are the processes and practices that shape their formation?
  • What are the challenges and potential for local, regional and trans-local food transformation?
  • In what way might change be effected beyond policy arenas?  In what way do partnership configurations enable or limit the potential for fairer transformation of the food system?
  • How can Action Researchers/Scholar-Activists effectively navigate the line between research and social action? 

Session 1 will involve conference papers that relate to these themes. We encourage presentations that will be meaningful across academic and practitioner audiences to mirror the collaborative spaces engaged researchers to work in.

Session 2 will take the format of a panel discussion where researchers and practitioners working in this field share their experiences and enable time for open discussion (panellists tbc).

Drawing on ideas of social justice, ethics of care, political ecologies, translocality, the more-than-human and intersectionality to offer timely and innovative interventions, these sessions will develop spaces for collaboration and conversation in which to imagine socially just food futures and map out the journeys, including research processes, that are needed to reach them.

Please send abstracts of max 250 words, giving names, institutional affiliation and contact details for authors/presenters, to Dr. Rebecca Sandover ( by no later than Friday the 8th of February 2019.

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