Food is at the intersection of major sustainable development challenges: it connects climate change, water, energy, economics, gender, social inclusion, digital innovations, and human wellbeing.
Food is at the intersection of major sustainable development challenges: it connects climate change, water, energy, economics, gender, social inclusion, digital innovations, and human wellbeing. Globally, there is a need to conduct food research that benefits social and environmental systems. This requires food research to look beyond production, and focus on on value chains, markets, stakeholder values, and social equity.
Our team at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures draws from a range of expertise to conduct food systems research in partnership with funders. We take a 'food systems' approach to understand and address issues across the food value chain and associated human and ecological drivers of change.
We design our research to identify:
- Feedbacks between different food activities and their associated human and ecological drivers
- The role of institutional and individual values and their influence on food activities
- Social and policy opportunities for sustainable food systems governance
- Leverage points to enable sustainable practices across the food system
- Emerging innovations to advance the use of spatial and digital technologies in food systems
As a research intensive institute, we are always adapting methods to meet societal and environmental challenges through research and practice. Our expertise includes:
- Vulnerability assessments of food systems
- Spatial mapping and urban planning
- Statistical analysis
- Systems thinking facilitation to build shared understanding of food systems
- Social network analysis
- Research impact assessment and program reviews
- Transformation pathways analysis
- Qualitative visioning and scenario design
- Qualitative interviews and workshops in a cross-cultural context
- Gender and inclusion sensitive design and research practice
- Nexus thinking and analysis
Our food systems expertise is grounded in transdisciplinary practice. We actively involve stakeholders and partners as collaborators through project design, conduct, monitoring and evaluation, and dissemination. We bring together different knowledge sets to provide technical outputs and practical recommendations that can lead to sustained adoption and impact.
→ Read our Food Systems brochure
Professor Stuart White
Sustainability systems and options
Stuart is Director of ISF. With over twenty years experience in sustainability research, he specialises in achieving sustainability outcomes at least cost for a range of government, industry and community clients across Australia and internationally. This includes both the design of programs for improving resource use efficiency and evaluation of their impact.
Brent is a Research Director, who leads ISF’s Natural Resources and Ecosystems research area. His background is in agricultural science with broad experience in agricultural systems and eco-physiology of crops and pastures. His current research interests include resilience, vulnerability and adaptive capacity of communities, and he is the leader of the NSW Climate Adaptation Research Hub Adaptive Communities Node.
Dr Dana Cordell
Food security and phosphorus
Dana is a Research Principal, focusing on food production and security. She co-founded the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative (GPRI) as an outcome of her doctoral research on the 'Sustainability implications of global phosphorus scarcity for food security' and continues to play a leading role in phosphorus research globally.
Food security and development
Melita specialises in food security and water, sanitation and hygiene in international development and in Australia. She is an experienced practitioner and advisor in sustainable food and water management, with over 15 years experience. Melita managed international and Australian youth engagement programs at Oxfam Australia, and advised on food security issues, including food waste reduction initiatives.
Sustainable food choices
Jenni is a Research Consultant with a number of years’ experience engaging people around the topic of sustainable food choices. As part of a small advocacy group she regularly gives talks and workshops on the environmental impacts of our daily food choices. She is currently pursuing research on how to help people translate their ethics and values into sustainable food choices on the grocery floor.
Louise is a Research Consultant with strong interpersonal skills and a background in stakeholder and community engagement. Her research focusses on the impact that food production has on animal welfare and human health. She has an interest ways to foster greater uptake of urban food production.
Food systems and permaculture
Fiona is a Senior Research Consultant with a passion for building communities through permaculture, urban agriculture, community gardening and local food systems. She has experience in sustainable urban development, corporate sustainability, carbon mitigation and alternative energy in Australia and overseas.
Sustainable food choices
Judith is a post-graduate researcher examining the role of the media in contributing to successful environmental campaigns. Focusing on organizational media strategies to encourage people to adopt a more sustainable diet, she draws upon her background as newspaper editor and feature writer with The Australian, The Sun-Herald and The Sydney Morning Herald and Channel Nine television producer and researcher.