Supported by BISAPGN funding
Food (In)Security Research Network:
International and trans-disciplinary perspectives
The one-day international postgraduate conference, supported by the GEM PhD School and the British International Studies Association Postgraduate Network (BISA-PGN) took place on October 16, 2013 at the University of Warwick. It was a very successful and engaging event and attracted postgraduate students, academics, and members of civil society from a diverse range of disciplines, interests, and geographical locations. The conference played a role in strengthening the interdisciplinary study of food security through exploring its social, environmental and especially international dimensions, as well as creating a network between early career scholars. The date selected for the conference also had symbolic significance as October 16th is World Food Day, which is celebrated by the FAO and around the world to raise awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.
The BISA-PGN and the GEM PhD School provided us with the financial support we needed to organise a conference devoted to this important issue. As doctoral students situated within the discipline of politics and international studies and researching various food-related subjects, we were aware that food security is a topic increasingly elevated to the top of government agendas and the focus of scholarly inquiry that had not yet gained a strong foothold in many disciplines such as the study of International Relations. This is surprising considering it can be argued that food insecurity is exacerbated by the current international trading system, trade laws, and certain international actors such as the World Bank and transnational corporations. It is an issue not only restricted to the Global South, but a crucial focus of new European Common Agricultural policies and Europe-wide conferences. The generous support of the GEM PhD School and the BISA-PGN enabled us to help overcome this neglect. This conference was just the first step and we plan to make it regular and more institutionalised in years to come and in order to achieve this we started a website: http://foodsecuritynet.wordpress.com, which will be the organisational hub.
Finally, the conference had a practical food security effect, since the conference organisational team decided to follow up one of the research project in practice and conducted a “A ‘drop’ towards food security” project. The aim was to assist a secondary school in the Tanzanian Coast Region sustain the costs of the water harvesting system currently in place in order to sustainably care for the school garden where several different vegetables and trees are planted, thus contributing to food security of its students. This was done by providing the school with two water tanks to store the water collected and some more seeds to increase the amount of land under food production.