Seeding Food Equity for Public Health: Call for Faculty Fellows

Win a research award for a novel idea that promotes food equity in the Global South 

Faculty applicants from any discipline are invited to the 2016 UB Food Equity Ideas Lab workshop, January 23-25, 2017. Twenty-five selected faculty fellows will spend an engaging, intensive, and productive three days in a workshop with an interdisciplinary team of colleagues, from mathematics to management. Fellows will develop research proposals in teams on a topic related to public health and community food systems in the Global South. Winning proposals will be awarded seed funding to get the projects off the ground. Fellows will also be invited to submit winning ideas as part of an edited book. Twenty-five fellows will be selected; see application details below.

Who is eligible and how to apply?

We welcome expression of interest from UB faculty from any discipline. Faculty do not need to have prior experience working in the Global South, or experience working directly on community food systems. Applicants with current or planned projects or in the Global South may indicate interest to work in their region of focus; otherwise, a region of focus will be provided.

Interested faculty must submit CV and an abstract that responds to the following questions in no more than 100 words each.

1) How could your disciplinary/research lens offer a unique perspective for addressing challenges in equity within the food system, especially in the Global South?

2) What do you hope to gain from your participation in the Food Equity Ideas Lab?

3) What is your approach to teamwork?

Faculty may include in their application names of one collaborator guest (student or faculty member from UB or elsewhere) with a rationale for why their participation is important. A selected number of guests will be invited on a rolling basis.

Deadline for submission: Materials must be received by Tuesday January 3, 2017. Submit your application with subject line “Last Name: Fellows for Food Equity Ideas Lab” to Erin Sweeney at Selected participants will be notified by January 9, 2017.

Workshop Information

The workshop for selected fellows will be held from Monday, January 23–Wednesday, January 25 in historic Hayes Hall, South Campus. Fellows must be available all three days from 8:30 am – 4pm. A meet-and-greet reception for fellows will be held Friday, January 20, 4-7pm.

More About the Food Equity Ideas Lab

Faculty fellows will participate in a three-day workshop to respond to challenges and opportunities in community food systems in the Global South, and generate ideas for promoting food and health equity. Fellows will be formed into teams of 3-5 individuals at the start of the workshop based on common interests and distribution of disciplines. Throughout the course of three days, each team will create an innovative, unconventional, dynamic research proposal. The proposals will be reviewed by an expert panel. Winning team(s) will receive seed funding through CGHE, and are expected to submit their winning ideas for funding to external funding entities following the workshop with support from CGHE leadership. Fellows will also be invited to participate in an edited volume (book) on innovative, interdisciplinary strategies for promoting food equity through community-led policy strategies.

Questions? Contact Erin Sweeney at

What is an Ideas Lab (IL)?

Modeled after workshops designed by KnowInnovation Inc., ILs are active, creative workshops during which participants develop innovative research ideas. During an IL scholars and scientists gather to articulate, explore, and address a problem that may be outside of their traditional fields of study. With support from trained facilitators, teams of participants bring their unique disciplinary knowledge to develop innovative solutions in response to complex problems.

What is a community food system (CFS)?

A community food system is the soil-to-soil system that enables the production, processing, distribution, acquisition, and consumption of food, and management of food waste. A CFS depends on natural resources, technologies, cultural norms, governance structures, policies and laws that shape and influence how food moves from farm to plate. An equitable CFS enhances the environmental, economic, social, and health equity of a place and its inhabitants. In the Global South, where hunger and malnutrition remain a pressing problem, community food systems are rapidly changing, creating both challenges and opportunities. Because of its complexity and breadth, community food systems are ripe for transdisciplinary scrutiny and innovation.

What is food equity?

Globally, one in nine people are  undernourished, and the prevalence of hunger is concentrated in the Global South (FAO, IFAD and WFP 2015). Food equity is the concept that all people have the ability and opportunity to grow and to consume healthful, affordable, and culturally significant foods. In an equitable food system, all community members are able to grow, procure, barter, trade, sell, dispose and understand the sources of food in a manner that prioritizes culture, equitable access to land, fair and equitable prices and wages, human health, and ecological sustainability. In this system, food systems are democratically controlled and community stakeholders can determine the policies that influence their food system.

The Food Equity Ideas Lab for UB faculty fellows is sponsored by UB Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE). Steering committee include faculty members Jessica Cao (Public Health), Rajiv Kishore (Management), Sara Metcalf (Geography), Samina Raja (Urban and Regional Planning), John Ringland (Mathematics), Marion Werner (Geography), and coordinators and facilitators Andy Burnett (Know Innovation), Alex Judelsohn (CGHE/UB Food Lab), Lisa Lenker (CGHE), Izzy Mamnoon (Know Innovation), and Erin Sweeney (CGHE/UB Food Lab).