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Intellectual Community Planning Grant – Climate Change, Food Systems & Sustainability

Area of Shared Intellectual Interest

We propose deepening Duke’s research agenda in the intersection of climate change, food systems, and sustainability and engaging with Triangle faculty. Climate change will be the primary lens, but we will also more broadly engage faculty and students to discuss what we should eat as a society.

News coverage of climate change has increased, with policy traction and funding opportunities related to food/climate. For example, foundations have tripled their giving for climate change mitigation since 2015, according to a report by ClimateWorks, and the US federal government made a large financial commitment to tackling climate change via the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022. Further, the National Science Foundation noted that convergent research is necessary to address pressing societal problems of food and agriculture’s overlapping systems and cultural relevance for multiple disciplines.

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Question or Problem for Proposed Exploration

Thus, we propose an intellectual community to address our central question: Considering climate change, what would be an equitable, just, and sustainable food system?

Duke Faculty Group’s Qualifications Relevant Qualifications/Experience

  1. Elizabeth Albright, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Environmental Science and Policy Methods, Nicholas School – policy/decision-making in response to extreme climatic events
  2. Sarah Bermeo, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Sanford – climate migration, food security, political economy, donor aid allocation
  3. Saskia Cornes, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Franklin Humanities; Program Director, Campus Farm – environmental humanities, sustainable food systems, pedagogy inView page context of climate change
  4. Gavan Fitzsimons, Edward S & Rose K Donnell Professor of Marketing and Psychology, Fuqua – consumer behavior, including food choice and eating behavior
  5. Lisa Gennetian, Pritzker Professor of Early Learning Policy Studies, Professor of Public Policy, Sanford – applied economist; causal mechanisms regarding child poverty shaping children’s development
  6. Akhenaton-Andrew D. Jones, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Engineering – global water challenges via engineering and policy analysis, environmental equity & justice
  7. Ryke Longest, Clinical Professor of Law, Director of Clinical Programs, the Co-Director of the Environmental Law
  8. Brian McAdoo, Associate Professor of Earth and Climate Science, Nicholas School of the Environment – effects of disasters triggered by natural hazards on marginalized populations
  9. Jarvis C. McInnis, Cordelia & William Laverack Family Assistant Professor of English; Trinity – African American & African Diaspora literature and culture, especially the role of agriculture in the global south (primarily the US South and the Caribbean)
  10. Lee Miller, Environmental Law and Policy Clinic Legal Fellow, Lecturing Fellow of Law, Law – food and agriculture law and policy, subnational climate change mitigation and resilience; adoption of regenerative agriculture systems; the federal farm bill; development of local/regional food systems
  11. Michele Nowlin, Clinical Professor of Law, Co-Director, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, Law – protection of natural resources and public health through the practice of environmental law
  12. Martin Smith, George M. Woodwell Distinguished Professor of Environmental Economics, Nicholas School of the Environment – the economics of the oceans, including fisheries, marine ecosystems, seafood markets, and coastal climate adaptation.
  13. Erika Weinthal– Professor of Environmental Policy and Public Policy, Nicholas School – global environmental politics and environmental security with a particular emphasis on water and energy
  14. Norbert Wilson, Professor of Food, Economics, and Community; Divinity & Sanford; Director, Duke WPFC – food security and food policy, including issues of access, choice, and food waste
  15. Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Theology, Divinity; Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics – intersections of theology, philosophy, ecology, agrarian/environmental studies


  • (Fall 2023) Literature Review & Interviews – hire a research assistant (RA) to conduct a literature review and faculty interviews to sketch out an initial promising research agenda and to find areas of mutual connection between the different disciplinary areas. The RA will present the research to the faculty project group to stimulate discussions to give this multidisciplinary group a common starting point.
  • (Fall 2023 – Fall 2024) Faculty Project Group Collaborative Sessions – host four in-person sessions with the project faculty and identify and invite relevant Triangle faculty to join. This group may include a few graduate students and post-doctoral scholars and center staff as relevant (around 25 people per meeting). The RA will assist with meeting planning, and Duke WFPC staff will help design effective meeting agendas. Meeting topics will cover: identifying research gaps, extramural grant proposals to pursue, exploring the relaunch of a faculty working group on food topics, and content for a class on climate, food, and sustainability (“What Should We Eat?”).
  • (Fall 2023 – Spring 2025) Course Planning & Class Launch – plan a class syllabus on these intersectional topics led by Norbert Wilson (joint Divinity & Sanford – cross-listed in Nicholas, the target audience is upper division graduate and masters students) with several guest speakers from this project team and possibly from faculty from the Triangle.

Anticipated Deliverables

  • Class
  • Presentations for faculty project group on results of literature review and interviews
  • List of emerging research agenda ideas for collaboration and list of potential funding entities
  • Joint grant application for one proposal
  • Relaunch of a faculty working group on food-related topics (formerly “Food Working Group”)
  • Increased interactions with food-related faculty from the Triangle