Europe is facing significant interlinked challenges to ensure the availability and consumption of healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food for an increasing number of citizens and diversified communities. In terms of key social and economic challenges, rising levels of food poverty highlight the difficulties for some groups to access basic (let alone sustainable and healthy) food. At the same time, the number of overweight or obese European citizens is rising at an alarming rate. Research also demonstrates that current dietary patterns and the wider organization of food systems are associated with significant environmental challenges: they produce negative effects on ecosystems (soil, water, pollinator populations and biodiversity) and significantly contribute to climate change. Therefore, there is an urgent need to transform European food systems.
This post-doctoral researcher will conduct action-research on food system transformation within the framework of the EU-funded CLEVERFOOD project. This project aims to facilitate a society-wide mobilisation of European citizens, including children and youth, farmers, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, educators, knowledge brokers and policy makers to transform the European food system to become more regenerative, resilient and plant-based. To this end, social and technological innovations to support sustainable food system transformation will be accelerated in Policy and Living Labs across Europe by co-creating strategies for removing lock-ins, developing integrated food policies and building sustainable food value chains.
The Athena Institute, as one of the consortium partners, will play a key role in the project with respect to developing and implementing a Pan-European Multi-Actor and Public Engagement Mechanism to identify and address the demand for multi-actor, public engagement, education and communication activities. There are numerous barriers (knowledge, physical, economic, political and socio-cultural) to sustainable food system transformation, that will be addressed through Athena's tasks within CLEVERFOOD, by (i) further increasing public engagement in food system science, (ii) developing a platform for Higher Education Institutions to collaborate on sustainable food systems transformation, (iii) supporting Policy Labs and Living Labs in facilitating multi-actor collaboration and public engagement, and (iv) empowering European citizens, including children, youth, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, to engage with sustainable healthy food and contribute actively to transform European food systems. Conducting monitoring and evaluation studies on the progress in relation to these activities is another important performed by the Athena Institute.
In this post-doctoral research project, you will be involved in the aforementioned activities by investigating public engagement in Policy Labs and Living Labs across Europe, identifying training needs of actors in the Living Labs, and designing and implementing training workshops for competence development. You will also monitor and evaluate CLEVERFOOD's activities to engage the public and empower citizens and other food system actors by collecting and reflexively monitoring the implementation of engagement methods and tools.Your duties
- developing a research programme in transdisciplinary knowledge production and co-learning in the area of (co-creative and community-engaged) food system transformation
- daily supervision of a PhD candidate
- teaching master students, including course coordination and thesis supervision, in courses that are part of the Institute's transdisciplinary teaching portfolio
- linking up education/research efforts at VU with the real-world issues addressed in co-creative multi-stakeholder initiatives. You also assess and evaluate the added value of VU involvement
- publishing articles in high quality journals. You also communicate research findings and insights via other, more widely accessible forms of writing and presenting
- contributing to administrative tasks and responsibilities of the Athena Institute
- engaging with stakeholders outside of academia in co-learning processes
- contributing to a pleasant, diverse, and safe work environment at the Athena Institute