Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some new directions, some not so new...

Well, it has been months since I have posted anything on this blog and for the most part it would seem completely dead, but no it is not... Truth be told I have been finishing up classes, passing my qualifying exams for candidacy and working to develop my research program for completion of the PhD.

As some of my later posts indicated I have taken an interest in sustainable agri-food systems, but in many ways I was trying to change some of my interests to fit the literature available to me. However, with my background in IT and the social sciences coupled with my new knowledge in environmental systems it seems appropriate to find a way to integrate all of these elements into some sort of coherent program of research.

With that in mind I began looking for references in the literature on agri-food studies that discuss the role of technology and the internet in particular and their respective influences on the rise of alternative agri-food system projects. This fascinating search revealed one single source and only scant hints at the role of new information and communication technologies for informing civic agriculture.

So to complete the PhD I will be doing 3 empirical research papers with the intent of publishing them in some journals. The first two deal directly with the role that ICTs are playing in supporting the emergence and spread of civic agriculture. The third paper has yet to be approved but I intend to do an ecological footprint analysis on a hypothetical scalability of local agriculture on the Palouse.

The key to this eco-footprint analysis will be the focus on spatial variation with respect to landscape. It is my hypothesis that ecological variations across spatial dimensions will invariably lead to different outcomes with respect to the sustainability of local agri-food systems.

For instance, it cannot all be about GHG emissions and food miles. For instance, biodiversity, water consumption for food production and soil quality all relate to sustainability and therefore should be included!