Saturday, July 19, 2008


The past month has been a flurry of activity, revaluation of my research interests in light of stumbling across some new insights, and well honestly I have been undergoing a dramatic cognitive shift for the past year.

While most of my preliminary ideas have focused on issues such as biofuels adoption or water resource allocation linked with participatory practices using patterns and pattern langauges, things have shifted. In some ways DIAC-08 was the final straw pushing me over the edge. This shift in thinking resulted in a rapid redrafting of my PhD topic, a meeting with my committee chair, further refinement and now a newly approved research program.

The new (current) title of the research is:

Reconfiguring the World’s Agri-Food Systems – Food Security and Poverty Reduction in an Era of Climate Change?

The overarching research question(s) driving this work is:

Can a reconfiguration away from the mainstream agri-food system, towards alternative localized food-system(s) increase food security while also promoting poverty reduction and environmental restoration in the face of global climate change? Similarly, by promoting such a shift can an alternative food-system provide insulation from price volatility associated with shifts in production due to climate and conversion of food crops to biofuels?

To answer this question I'm tentatively planning on three case-studies that include a system dynamics approach to material flows modeling and policy analysis. Linked with the analysis phase is the construction of systems based policies to increase the resilience of local alternative food-systems. These policies will be fashioned in structure after patterns (see previous post: Patterns as Policies, and Pattern Languages as Policy Frameworks? ).

Together with quantitative dimensions provided by the system dynamics models and the elements within specific "patterns as policies" it is suggested that a deeper understanding and thereby opportunity for successful interventions for reconfiguring our food systems will be more likely to achieve the benefits cited with local small-scale agriculture with regards to community economic development, reduction of environmental impact from agricultural production, poverty reduction and thereby support food security.

For those interested here is a link to the evolving research overview. However as you might notice this title is different than the one provided in this blog entry. This just means that I'm revising and clarifying the specifics of the research. Once this is complete I will restart the process of identifying case study locations.

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