Climate change, population growth and movement, cost of living pressures, animal welfare, seed monopolies, supply chain shortages, consumption and health… the list of challenges around food seems endless. Yet there is much thoughtful and positive work taking place to improve the health and sustainability of our food systems worldwide.

In this four-part seminar series, presented in partnership with All of Life Redeemed, an international platform of researchers spoke on their work in this area from a range of perspectives that ‘use research to do good for all’.

Friday 20th MayDr Yoseph Araya
Climate-smart agroforestry in Malawi
Dr Richard Gunton
How broad is sustainable intensification?
Friday 27th MayDr Jan van der Stoep
Eating as a normative practice
Dr Philip Sampson
Whose world, whose sustainability? Recovering the interests of the planet
Friday 3rd JuneDr Plamen Ivanov
Economics of food security
Prof Richard Werner
Financing sustainable food supplies
Friday 10th JuneMaarten Verkerk
The many faces of sustainable home cooking
Dr Franck Meijboom
Animals in perspective: on animals and transitions towards sustainability

You can watch recordings of all of the talks below. Press the title to expand or hide each talk.

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Dr Yoseph Araya – Climate-smart agroforestry in Malawi

Among many challenges facing our planet, the three that often come to the fore are biodiversity loss, impending climate change and loss of food security. In this context, recently, there has been a growing recognition of smallholder farmers’ contributions to addressing these key global environmental and social development issues in innovative ways. In this example I will discuss a case study of climate-smart macadamia agroforestry, as practised by a smallholder cooperative in Malawi.

Dr Araya is Senior Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, The Open University. His research focuses on the functional relationships between plants and their environment, especially concerning water and nutrient dynamics.

Dr Richard Gunton – How broad is sustainable intensification?

Sustainable intensification (SI) is a slippery term that means something like increasing food production while reducing environmental damage from farming. But there are many ideas about what counts as increasing food production and what “reducing environmental damage” means: it depends whom you ask. In this talk I will apply a pluralistic evaluation framework to explore the possible diversity of flavours of SI. I will suggest how these options can be understood using the concept of modes of valuing, and consider how ideological divergence among people and cultures may illuminate and also frustrate the application of SI in practice.

Richard is Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Winchester, where he also teaches a module on The Values of Nature. His research ranges around environmental ethics, policy evaluation, and philosophy of the sciences.

Dr Jan van der Stoep – Eating as a normative practice

For a long time, food was seen as a matter of personal preference. Such a view is no longer tenable due to climate change, health issues and changing relationships between humans and animals. What’s a good meal? What can we learn from Reformational philosophy about dining as a normative practice?

Jan is Endowed Professor of Christian Philosophy at Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands. He is also affiliated to Ede Christian University of Applied Sciences, where he directs a research group on Faith and Work.

Dr Philip Sampson – Whose world, whose sustainability? Recovering the interests of the planet

‘Sustainability’ has become a watchword of contemporary public policy making, both in the UK and internationally. Major documents over the past 50 years have consistently adopted an anthropocentric language which views creation as an environmental resource to be managed. This well represents the interests of humans, but not necessarily those of the planet. This talk explores a broader vision which speaks of the earth as more than a human resource, drawing upon a pre-twentieth century evangelical discourse. Following the Westminster Confession, Philip argues for a vision of the world as a harmonious worshipping community of creatures. Within such a world-view, sustainability becomes an outcome of righteous living, not a goal of human managerialism. This is illustrated using the example of the global meat industry.

Dr Philip Sampson is a Fellow at The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, and Consultant Editor for the Journal of Animal Ethics. His main research interest is  the archeology of nonconformist Christian discourses about animals.

Dr Plamen Ivanov – Economics of food security

The UN aims to eradicate hunger by 2030. Yet the world is now facing unprecedented levels of hunger due to a perfect storm of socio-economic developments, from Covid to Ukraine. The challenges may be traced back to our highly-financialised capitalist framework. Following denationalisation and de-weaponisation of the agri-food industry with the drive for private profitability, the financial services system has been ill-equipped to provide credit to more sustainable, small-scale agri-producers. Yet there are success stories. Plamen will show how Germany’s inclusive financial system (built on the Christian pillar of “help thy brother”) has been foundational to the availability of affordable, good quality food in the Bundesrepublik in the last 200 years, laying the foundations for its successful export-led economic growth.

Plamen is Lecturer in Economics and Banking at the University of Winchester. His research focuses on the role of credit institutions in economic development.

Prof Richard Werner – Financing sustainable food supplies

Empirical research has firmly shown that the mainstream treatment of the economics of banking, representing banks as mere financial intermediaries i.e. transferring funds from surplus agents (depositors) to deficit agents (borrowers), is erroneous. In fact, banks have the power to create and allocate credit and money in the economy in the process of lending. Modelling upon the true accounting operations of banking firms, Prof. Werner develops a case for abundant economies by utilising credit creation for productive purposes, including the establishment of sustainable agri-food systems. Channelling money to eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious use of land, flora and fauna to sustain human kind can be achieved through re-imagination and decentralisation of our contemporary financial system. The critical role of community banking is briefly discussed.

Richard is a professor in banking and finance at De Montfort University. He is also a founding chair of Local First, a community interest company establishing not-for-profit community banks in the UK. In 2008 he founded the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development, and until 2018 he was Professor of International Banking at the University of Southampton.

Maarten Verkerk – The many faces of sustainable home cooking

This talk explores the practice of sustainable home cooking by analysing a traditional Dutch dish from two perspectives. The first is the theory of modal aspects developed by the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd, which can offer insight into diverse aspects of home cooking. The second is the normative practice approach developed by Jochemsen, Hoogland, Glas and others, which highlights values involved in home cooking, the societal dynamics in which home cooking is embedded, and the influence of the spirit of the times.

Maarten retired in 2019 as Affiliate Professor in Christian Philosophy and Ethics at the Maastricht University and the Technical University of Eindhoven. He is now an independent consultant in the fields of innovation, sustainability and the meaning of life.

Dr Franck Meijboom – Animals in perspective: on animals and transitions towards sustainability

Analyzing transitions in the agri-food sector from the perspective of animals contributes to finding different perspectives on the transition: eg. on what the nature of the problem is, what values underlie the transition or how a problem can be best approached. Furthermore, it prevents animals being overlooked in current food transitions, which is highly problematic given the strong arguments for acknowledging animals as having moral status whose role in transitions should be taken seriously for their own sake.

Franck studied theology and ethics at the Universities of Utrecht (NL) and Aberdeen (UK), and as Associate Professor he is affiliated to both the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University, and to the Adaptation Physiology group of Wageningen University. He is also Head of the Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship. His fields of interest are in ethics of animal use and veterinary ethics, in agricultural and food ethics, and the role of public trust and debate in these domains.

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