Dr Federico Davila is an interdisciplinary social scientist at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney (UTS). As a Research Principal (Food Systems) he is responsible for advancing the theory and practice of systems-based approaches to food and nutrition security. His training, research experience, and academic publications focus on the links between human and ecological change and how they influence food and nutrition security at different spatial and temporal scales. He completed a PhD on qualitative methods and the application a systems-based human ecology methodology for capturing how different stakeholders perceive and intervene in different food system activities. He also holds a Masters of Environment (Research) and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Sustainability) from the Australian National University.
Federico’s approach explicitly focuses on taking a systems thinking approach to carry out impact oriented sustainability research for a range of funders. This ethical approach to research and practice has allowed Federico to establish long term partnerships with key stakeholders interested in improving food and nutrition security. He holds technical methods expertise in thematic qualitative coding, theoretically designed research, mixed-methods design, and transdisciplinary research.
Federico has worked in the private and academic sector, delivering a range of peer reviewed and professional service outputs. He has worked on mixed-methods projects, conducted extensive interviews and workshops in cross-cultural contexts, and implemented systems based activities in pedagogical and professional contexts. He has worked in Australia, Southeast Asia, and Europe in the broad field of sustainability science. Federico has contributed to Southeast Asian growing interests in using systems thinking for agriculture and food and nutrition security programs. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), which is leading the regional efforts in transdisciplinary food systems research.
Can supervise: YES
- Transdisciplinary sustainability research
- Systems thinking design and analysis
- Human ecology
- Food systems research
- Social science methods and theory
- Food discourse
- Sustainability science education
- International development
- Research impact assessment
Moon, K, Blackman, DA, Adams, VM, Colvin, RM, Davila, F, Evans, MC, Januchowski-Hartley, SR, Bennett, NJ, Dickinson, H, Sandbrook, C, Sherren, K, St. John, FAV, van Kerkhoff, L & Wyborn, C 2019, 'Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology, and methods', Methods in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 294-302.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Davila, F, Dyball, R & Amparo, JM 2018, 'Transdisciplinary research for food and nutrition security: Examining research-policy understandings in Southeast Asia', Environmental Development, vol. 28, pp. 67-82.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Interacting human and environmental drivers influence food and nutrition security outcomes. The way food and nutrition security problems and solutions are understood by decision makers and researchers inevitably influences interventions in food systems. One novel way of capturing different and potentially competing understandings of food and nutrition security problems and solutions is transdisciplinary research. In this paper, we examine how Southeast Asian policy and research experts working in food and nutrition security frame challenges and solutions, and the implications of this understanding for their capacity to adopt initiatives from emerging transdisciplinary research in the region. We conducted a workshop with research and policy experts from four countries in Southeast Asia and used a systems based human ecology framework to capture the common understanding participants have of the main challenges in their food systems. The systems exercises revealed similarities in the dominant framing presented by researchers and policy makers, and of the respective agencies of key stakeholders. We found that formal government policy and training was commonly perceived as major drivers of change, with smallholder farmers viewed as passive recipients of knowledge. We also found there is ongoing interest in increasing productivity of key commodities, but there is critical awareness of the environmental consequences of production-oriented agriculture. These dominant understandings have implications for current regional initiatives in transdisciplinary research that seek to build farmer capacity, reduce inequality, and include different stakeholders in research and policy activities. We conclude by arguing that research agencies aspiring to inform policy interventions based on transdisciplinary processes will face challenges given the current dominant frames of food systems in the region. We show how human ecology and systems frameworks can guide transdisciplinary food s...
Evans, MC, Davila, F, Toomey, A & Wyborn, C 2017, 'Embrace complexity to improve conservation decision making.', Nature Ecology and Evolution, vol. 1, no. 11, pp. 1588-1588.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Davila, F 2016, 'Sustainable Food Systems: Building a New Paradigm', HUMAN ECOLOGY REVIEW, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 167-171.
Koenig, A, Dyball, R & Davila, F 2016, 'Transforming the World by Transforming the University: Envisioning the University of 2040', Solutions, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 12-16.
Smyth, L, Davila, F, Sloan, T, Rykers, E, Backwell, S & Jones, SB 2016, 'How science really works: the student experience of research-led education', HIGHER EDUCATION, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 191-207.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Davila, F & Dyball, R 2015, 'Transforming Food Systems Through Food Sovereignty: An Australian Urban Context', Australasian Journal Of Environmental Education, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 34-45.
Davila, F & Dyball, R 2015, 'Transforming food systems through food sovereignty: An Australian Urban context', Australian Journal of Environmental Education, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 34-45.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© The Author(s) 2015. This article draws on La Via Campesina's definition of food sovereignty and its potential for reconceptualising food as a basic human right within the dominant Australian food discourse. We argue that the educative value that emerges from urban food production in Australia stems from the action of growing food and its capacity to transform individuals' social and environmental concerns over food systems. Community participation in urban food production can promote a learning process that generates political understanding and concerns over food systems. We use the education theories of transformative learning and critical consciousness to discuss how Australian urban food production systems can create this social and environmental support for alternative food systems. By having control over food production practices and building collective understandings of how food choices impact global food systems, elements of food sovereignty can develop in an Australian urban context.
Davila, F & Sloan, T 2014, 'Studios for sustainability in higher education.', Fusion, no. 3.
Sloan, T, Davila, F & Malbon, E 2013, 'Student-facilitators as university tutors: An effective approach to sustainability education', Australian Journal of Environmental Education, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 80-96.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Higher education institutions are considered by many to be pivotal in shaping the next generation of thinkers and practitioners required to further work towards addressing the sustainability challenges faced by contemporary societies. The extent to which higher education has embraced this responsibility is debateable. Notwithstanding, this article reports upon our experience as three students employed as tutors in teaching sustainability to our undergraduate counterparts. Drawing upon our collective experience as both students and tutors within The Fenner School of Environment and Society of the Australian National University, we explore what makes student-facilitators part of an effective approach for sustainability education. Through this process, we describe some key practices that student-facilitators apply and which contribute to students' understandings of sustainability. These key practices are: conceptualising what a tutorial should be; taking the position as a facilitator of discussion; using game-based activities; and the role that student-facilitators play in a community of social learning at the Fenner School. We conclude that the incorporation of student-facilitators in the teaching and learning of sustainability play a unique and significant role that should be valued, fostered and supported in higher education. Copyright © The Authors 2013.
A major sustainability challenge is to feed the world’s population whilst reducing
environmental impacts, narrowing inequities in food access, and meeting global
nutritional needs (Lawrence et al., 2010; Ingram, 2011). If this challenge is to be met,
processes operating between key interacting factors must be successfully managed.
These factors include the social and economic (Carolan, 2016; Dethier & Effenberger,
2012), environmental (Vermeulen et al., 2012), and health and wellbeing
(Friel & Ford, 2015) and occur across the food chain from production, manufacture
and processing, to distribution, retail, and end consumption. Because these factors
dynamically interact to drive changes in each other, it is preferable to think of food
systems rather than chains (Ericksen, 2008; Ingram, 2011). The goal of a food system
is, or should be, to regularly and reliably make appropriate food available at a specific
scale, be it a household, town, or nation. We add the words ‘should be’ to flag that the
purpose or goal of food systems is actually contested, as discussed later.
Davila, F & Reinhardt, W 2017, 'Teaching as a Strategic Choice' in McMaster, C, Murphy, C, Whitburn, B & Mewburn, I (eds), Postgraduate Study in Australia: Surviving and succeeding, Peter Lang, New York.
Amparo, F, Davila, F, Dyball, R, Geges, D, Jimena, C, Malenab, C, Mendoza, E & Saguiguit, S 2017, An analysis of smallholder commodity systems using and integrative and systems based framework in two pilot ISARD sites in the Philippines., pp. 1-111, Los Baños, The Philippines.
Davila, F, Sloan, T, Milne, M & van Kerkhoff, L 2017, Impact assessment of giant clam research in the Indo-Pacific, no. ACIAR Impact Assessment Series No 94, pp. 1-100, Canberra.
Davila, F, Sloan, T & van Kerkhoff, L 2016, Knowledge Systems and RAPID Framework for Impact Assessments, ACIAR Impact Assessment Series, no. 92, pp. 1-110, Canberra.