Workshop on the Sustainability of the World's Food and Farming Systems

This seminar is by invitation only but several events will be open to the public and listed in our Event Calendar.

The Seminar on the Sustainability of the World's Food and Farming Systems convenes in 2016–2017 to consider the phenomena of food and farming in their global context. Workshop participants have been investigating several broad food-system questions:

  • The international grain price spikes of both 2007–2008 and 2010–2011 have now been replaced by a return to lower prices. How can we avoid a return to complacency, and sustain investments in lagging regions (such as Africa)?

  • Is the world's increasingly specialized and industrialized food production system fundamentally incompatible with environmental sustainability? Would it be better to revert to less specialized traditional systems, or innovate greener industrial systems? Have we reached “peak land”?

  • To what extent has obesity and overnutrition (particularly in industrial countries) replaced hunger and undernutrition as the world's most pressing “food problem”? Is it accurate to speak now of “double burdens” within transitional countries?

  • Does food sustainability depend more on the evolution of farming systems, or instead on dietary trends and transitions?

  • To what extent can the problems of today's food and farming systems be adequately addressed by national governments, as opposed to intergovernmental institutions, private business firms, or civil-society organizations?

The seminar chair is Robert Paarlberg, adjunct professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.  


Robert L. Paarlberg

Associate. Betty F. Johnson ‘44 Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Wellesley College.

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See also: Open Seminars