PhD opportunity at Lancaster Environment Centre: Can food sovereignty be up-scaled? The scope, limits and politics of community initiatives in the context of global food security

PhD opportunity at Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster Univeristy (UK)
Deadline for Applications: 14 February 2016
Start: October 2016

Info and on-line application:

For further information or informal discussion about the position, please contact G. Bettini
or R. Whittle .

The sustainability of food systems is one of the most pressing global challenges at the intersection of environmental and developmental policy, and has attracted a vast amount of research. Currently, such research falls into two broad camps. On the one hand, there is a large body of work concerned with developing food security at the global scale. This research tends to place a strong emphasis on science and technology “solutions” and the search for top-down interventions in biophysical, agricultural and economic systems. However, recent years have seen the emergence a contrasting body of literature concerned with the development of ‘food sovereignty’. This work, which has strong roots in critical social science, places the emphasis on giving control of food systems back to farmers and communities. Consequently, proposed interventions tend to be low tech, diverse and bottom-up in character. However, while proponents of such approaches tend to emphasise their value in transforming power imbalances within the food system, critics dismiss them because they are often seen to be purely local in scale and thus of limited value for addressing global food insecurity.

The two approaches often talk past each other, and few studies seriously engage with both. With this project you will fill this crucial knowledge gap, combining exciting empirical work with community groups at the cutting edge of action on food sovereignty with in-depth theoretical engagement. The key objective is to assess the potential of community food projects to foster food sovereignty. In particular, you will explore the scope and limitations of their engagement with transnational initiatives, economic processes, policies. To this end, the perspective of polycentric governance will help in understanding processes and entities that cannot be placed in any of the boxes (international, national, regional or local) envisioned by traditional understandings of scale. The aim is thus to generate a better understanding of the scope and limitations of novel forms of action and governance within food systems (with unconventional combinations of private and governmental actors, networks, community groups, etc.) which transnational initiatives bring to life, and of which community engagement is an important ingredient.

The project combines theoretical/conceptual elaboration with qualitative empirical research with community-level groups whose actions are focused on creating food and climate security for their locales (for example, Transition Town initiatives, the Incredible Edibles movement and Sustainable Food Cities groups) AND that engage with transnational groups such as La Via Campesina, The Transition Network and the Slow Food Movement. The choice of the specific case study will be negotiated with the supervisors at the beginning of the project.

Fully-funded collaborative PhD Studentship: School of Geography, University of Nottingham

‘Developing sustainable diets collectively: participatory approaches to addressing the challenge of dietary sources of pollution in the Eye Brook catchment, Leicestershire’

The School of Geography at the University of Nottingham invites applications from suitably qualified students for the following ESRC funded collaborative PhD studentship to cover maintenance and fees for full-time study.

This novel and transdisciplinary PhD research project embeds a social science research project within a larger natural science experiment on water friendly farming conducted by the project partner – the Allerton Project, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. It intersects with emerging societal and social scientific debates about the contribution of diet to sustainability transitions within the food system, the challenges of ‘diffuse’ pollution control and the role and practice of participatory and collective approaches in rural environmental governance, particularly at the spatial scale of the catchment.

The candidate will have, or be working towards achieving in 2016, an upper second or first class Bachelors degree in geography or cognate discipline, such as sociology, anthropology, social psychology or environmental studies. A candidate with a Bachelors degree will be expected to undertake a Masters degree (in Environmental Geography) that will be fully funded during the first year of the studentship. Alternatively, the candidate will have a Masters degree in any of the above disciplines and if this higher degree meets the ESRC’s research training requirements they will be eligible to begin studying immediately for a PhD and for 3 years of funding. Ideally, the candidate will also have relevant pre or post-degree experience of working with community groups and be able to demonstrate an academic interest in the relationships between food, eating and the environment. The candidate must fulfil relevant ESRC eligibility criteria:

The successful applicant will be entitled to a full-time, yearly tax free stipend at current RCUK rates (£14,057 for 2015/16, updated each year), plus tuition fees (£4,060 for 2015/16) and additional research funds.

Further details and application forms are available at: or from Andrea Payne, Postgraduate Research Administrator, School of Geography, The University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD. Tel: 0115 951 5575. Email: Andrea.Payne [at] For an informal discussion about the project please contact the academic supervisors: contact Dr Carol Morris (Carol.Morris [at] or Dr Susanne Seymour (Susanne.Seymour [at]

The closing date for applications is 12th February 2016 and the date for interviews for the position is Wednesday 2nd March. The project will start in September 2016.

University of Manchester, Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) PhD Studentships

The University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute will be offering up to 4 fully-funded PhD studentships to outstanding candidates wishing to commence their doctoral studies in September 2016.

The Sustainable Consumption Institute aims to bring insight and clarity to a key part of the sustainability challenge: the role of consumption. It takes original insights from across the Social Sciences and subjects them to critical empirical scrutiny in order to advance fundamental understandings about processes of consumption and innovation, and to consider their implications for transitions towards more sustainable societies.

The studentships will need to be closely aligned with the research agenda and ongoing activities of the SCI, and so applicants are advised to consult the SCI’s website and research pages for details of existing projects.

Successful candidates will be funded by the SCI, supervised by at least one member of SCI research staff (Boons, Browne, Evans, Geels, MacGregor, McMeekin, Mylan, Southerton, Yates), and located within a host School. The exact location of the studentship will depend on the applicant’s project, their interests, and their supervisor. We anticipate that most candidates will be based in the School of Social Sciences (SoSS), Manchester Business School (MBS) or the School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED).

Candidates are invited to write a research proposal for a PhD project that complements and/or extends current SCI research projects. Proposals should be c.1500 words long and include a title, the background to the project, the research design and methodology, and a bibliography. We are particularly interested in hearing from candidates whose projects address the following topics:

*Comprehensive analysis of system innovations in food, energy, or transport
*Comparative research on socio-cultural change, the temporal organization of daily life, and trajectories of consumption
*Environmental movements and/or consumer activism
*The dynamics of societal problems and responses by large incumbent industries
*The food-energy-water nexus and its relationship to different system boundaries (e.g. households, cities)
*Alternative modes of food provision and delivery (in particular, eating outside the home)
*Histories and dynamics of everyday life, city transitions, and sustainability in China (with potential to collaborate with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences or University of Shanghai)
The diffusion and appropriation of sustainable innovations (in particular related to meat substitutes)
*Comparative political economies of sustainable transition pathways
*Sustainability and social difference/inequalities (gender, class, race, age, abilities, intersectionality, etcetera)
*The cultural politics of sustainable food (contested meanings of food quality, rival problem framings, the distribution of responsibilities, etcetera)

Please note that this list is indicative and not exhaustive. Candidates must get in touch with potential supervisors to discuss their ideas in advance of making an application. Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr David Evans <david.evans [at]>

Studentship details – The studentships comprise an annual stipend of £14,210, payment of fees up to the level charged for UK/EU students (TBC but currently £4,052) and £1,000 for fieldwork and conference expenses. It might be possible to cover the fees for non-UK/EU candidates, but this will only happen in exceptional circumstances. The studentship will be for direct entry onto the three year (+3) PhD programme. The programme will commence in September 2016. Continuation of the award is subject to satisfactory performance.

Entry Requirements – Applicants must hold a Bachelors degree equivalent to a First Class or Upper Second Class Honours UK degree. They must also have (or expect to gain) a UK Masters degree (or overseas equivalent) at Merit level (with a coursework/examination average of 60% or more AND a dissertation mark of 60% or more, with no mark below 50%) or above in a relevant social science discipline. Preference will be given to candidates whose Masters degree involves a significant element of social science research methods training, and those who performed at distinction level (70% or higher) or equivalent.

How to apply – Applicants should email a full CV together with a covering letter and research proposal. Please note that applying for the SCI PhD studentship is separate process to applying for entry to a PhD programme. Successful candidates will therefore also be required to fulfill the normal admissions procedures for the school in which they will be based.

Further information – HERE  or e-mail: <david.evans [at]>

The deadline for applications is 22nd January, 2016.

Research Positions: University of Dublin. Assessing the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food sharing economies

Final call for three dynamic researchers to work on an ERC-funded project SHARECITY: Assessing the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food sharing economies, based within the Geography Department, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin. Post summaries are provided below. Full details available from or Anna Davies: <daviesa [at]>

1. PhD Studentship: 4 years, tax-free stipend (€16,000pa) and payment of EU level academic fees

2. 2 x Postdoctoral researchers: 2 years, IUA level 2, point 1 salary scale €37,750 pro rata

All deadlines 18th December at 12 noon (Irish Standard Time)

PhD Post Summary:

Applications are invited for a four year ERC (European Research Council) funded PhD studentship based at the Department of Geography at Trinity College, the University of Dublin, under the supervision of Professor Anna Davies and as part of the ERC-funded project SHARECITY: Assessing the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food sharing economies. The successful applicant will become a core member of the SHARECITY team (which will include the Principal Investigator, at least 4 postdoctoral researchers and a Research Assistant). This PhD project will contribute to the SHARECITY team’s conceptual and analytical development in the identification and classification of food sharing activities within cities globally. The successful candidate will assist in the development of a global database of city-based food sharing and undertake an in-depth ethnographic study of food sharing within one global city identified by the Principal Investigator. Research will include site visits, participant observation, interviews and netnographies of sharers (donors, facilitators and recipients) as well as co-designing and trialling a sustainability assessment toolkit with sharers and sharing regulators within the case study city. The final component of the PhD will include conducting a backcasting experiment with key stakeholders regarding the future of food sharing in cities. The successful candidate will be hosted in the Department of Geography, School of Natural Science and will become a member of Environmental Governance Research Group and the Future Cities Research Centre. General enquires concerning this post can be addressed to <daviesa [at]>

Post-doctoral Posts Summary:

The Department of Geography at Trinity College, the University of Dublin, is seeking two Post-Doctorate Researchers to work with Professor Anna Davies on the ERC-funded project SHARECITY: Assessing the practice and sustainability potential of city-based food sharing economies. The successful applicants will be core members of the SHARECITY team (which will also include the Principal Investigator, further Post-Doctorate Researchers, a PhD student and a Research Assistant). The post-doctoral researchers will contribute to the first two phases of the SHARECITY project, specifically focusing on a) conceptual and analytical development in the identification and classification of food sharing activities within cities to culminate in the development of a global database of 100 cities and b) in-depth ethnographic studies of food sharing within selected global cities identified through the database. The research will include site visits, participant observation, interviews and netnographies of sharers (donors, facilitators and recipients). The successful candidates will be hosted in the Department of Geography, School of Natural Science and will become members of Environmental Governance Research Group and the Future Cities Research Centre. General enquires concerning these posts should be addressed to <daviesa [at]>