Bergen Summer Research School
Course | BSRS 2020

Global food systems

Viewing food in a global system perspective offers possibilities to analyse developments and linkages across spatial and temporal scales. It includes value chains from soil, plant and livestock, water and fish, via transport, processing, marketing, purchase, food culture and to nutritional outcomes of food consumption.

Main content

Course leaders
Ragnhild Overå, Professor, Department of Geography, UiB
Peter Andersen, Head of the Department of Geography, UiB

Polly Ericksen, International Livestock Research Institute
Jeppe Kolding, University of Bergen
Anne Hatløy, Fafo and University of Bergen
Anna Birgitte Milford, Nibio
Inger Elisabeth Måren, University of Bergen
Birgit Kopainsky, University of Bergen

Food system changes are linked to global environmental change, trade, food policies, technology, agro-biodiversity, demography, and dietary patterns, creating concurrent situations of food insecurity and under-nutrition and over-nutrition, in the global South as well as the global North.

Food cultures relate to economy, class, ethnicity, socialization and ethics, and are constantly changed by trends and countertrends in global and local markets. The rise of climate and environmental crises present a serious challenge to food systems, and the need to create policies that make both production and consumption more sustainable while still ensuring food security.

Knowledge based food system policies are crucial for meeting the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This course seeks participants interested in setting their research case studies in a system perspective, combining insights from natural sciences, health sciences and environmental resource management with social science approaches to the production, provision and consumption of food.

Learning outcomes

  • Obtain an overview of food systems theory and other contemporary approaches to study food related themes in relation to spatial and temporal interactions.
  • Use a political ecology perspective on changes of production, marketing and consumption in the global food system.
  • Be able to value and apply an interdisciplinary perspective on linkages between food systems, health outcomes and sustainability.
  • Train the ability to view the global food system in relation to the SDGs, and to critically evaluate how food policies may be contradictory for the achievement of the different goals.

Participation at the BSRS is credited under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Participants submitting an essay, in a form of a publishable manuscript of 10-20 pages, after the end of the summer school will receive 10 ECTS.

It is also possible to participate without producing an essay. This will give you 4 ECTS. In order to receive credits, we expect full participation in the course-specific modules, plenary events and roundtables.

Ragnhild Overå is a human geographer mainly working in Ghana and other African countries. Her research methods involve ethnographic fieldwork where socio-economic processes in local communities are viewed in context of processes on national and global scales. Research interests include gender, entrepreneurship, informal economies, food trade, small-scale fisheries, food and nutrition security, natural resource management, migration, globalisation and political ecology. Overå currently participates in the research project 'Small Fish and Food security (SmallFishFood): Towards innovative integration of fish in African food systems to improve nutrition' where she focuses on processing and marketing in small fish value chains.

Peter Andersen is geographer in the erea of environment and development. He has field experience from a number of countries in Africa and Asia. He has generally worked with sustainability of agriculture and food production, including its relevance for human nutrition. Special interests are sustainable land use, under-utilised crops and micronutrients.

Reading list per lecture

Polly Ericksen – Theoretical perspectives on food systems

Ericksen, P. J. 2008.  Conceptualizing food systems for global environmental change research.  Global Environmental Change 18:234-245

Eakin, H., Rueda, X., & Mahanti, A. (2017). Transforming governance in telecoupled food systems. Ecology and Society, 22(4). https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-09831-220432

Béné, C., Oosterveer, P., Lamotte, L., Brouwer, I. D., de Haan, S., Prager, S. D., … Khoury, C. K. (2019). When food systems meet sustainability – Current narratives and implications for actions. World Development, 113, 116–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.08.011

Neufeldt, H., Rosenstock, T., Scholes, M., LeZaks, D., Meinke, H., Wollenberg, E., … Gulledge, J. (2013). Beyond climate-smart agriculture: toward safe operating spaces for global food systems [electronic resource]. Agriculture and Food Security, 2(1), 41. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2048-7010-2-12

Ruben, R., Verhagen, J., & Plaisier, C. (2018). The challenge of food systems research: What difference does it make? Sustainability (Switzerland), 11(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010171

Polly Ericksen – Climate smart livestock systems

Thornton, PK and M Herrero.  2015.  Adapting to climate change in the mixed crop and livestock farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa.  Nature Climate Change DOI 10.1039/NCLIMATE2754

Rojas-Dowing, et al 2017. Climate Change and Livestock:  Impacts, adaptation and mitigation.  Climate Risk Management 16:145-163

McKune, S.L. et al. 2015.  Climate change through a gendered lens: examining livestock holder food security.  Global Food Security 6: 1-8

Weiler, V. et al. 2014.  Handling multi-functionality of livestock in a life cycle assessment:  the case of smallholder dairying in Kenya.  Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 8: 29-38.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2014.07.009

Roos, E.   2017.  Greedy or needy?  Land use and climate impacts of food in 2050 under different livestock futures.  Global Environmental Change 47: 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2017.09.001

Jeppe Kolding – Sustainable fisheries for food

Kolding, J., Bundy, A., van Zwieten, P.A.M and Plank, M. 2015. Fisheries, the inverted food pyramid. ICES Journal of Marine Science. doi 10.1093/icesjms/fsv225

Kolding, J., Jacobsen, N.S., Andersen, K.H. and van Zwieten, P.A.M. 2015. Maximizing fisheries yields while maintaining community structure. Can. J. Fish and Aquatic. Sci. 73(4): 644-655, doi: 10.1139/cjfas-2015-0098

Kolding, J. and van Zwieten, P.A.M. 2014. Sustainable fishing in inland waters. Journal of Limnology 73: 128-144. DOI: 10.4081/jlimnol.2014.818

Kolding, J. and van Zwieten, P.A.M. 2011. The tragedy of our legacy: how do global management discourses affect small-scale fisheries in the South? Forum for Development Studies 38(3): 267-297.

Birgit Kopainsky - Food security and resilience in socio-ecological systems

Darnhofer, I., Fairweather, J., & Moller, H. (2010). Assessing a farm's sustainability: Insights from resilience thinking. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 8(3), 186-198. 

Cabell, J. F., & Oelofse, M. (2012). An indicator framework for assessing agroecosystem resilience. Ecology and Society, 17(1 C7 - 18). doi: 10.5751/es-04666-170118

Tendall, D. M., Jörin, J., Kopainsky, B., Edwards, P., Shreck, A., Le, Q. B., . . . Six, J. (2015). Food system resilience: Defining the concept. Global Food Security, 6, 17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.gfs.2015.08.001

Meuwissen, M. P. M., Feindt, P. H., Spiegel, A., Termeer, C. J. A. M., Mathijs, E., Mey, Y. d., ... Reidsma, P. (2019). A framework to assess the resilience of farming systems. Agricultural Systems, 176, 102656. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2019.102656

Herrera H., Kopainsky B. (2020). Do you bend or break? System Dynamics in resilience planning for food security. System Dynamics Review. DOI: 10.1002/sdr.1643.

Ragnhild Overå – Gender, power and access in food value chains

Medard, M., Van Dijk, H. and Hebinck, P. (2019) Competing for kayabo: gendered struggles for fish and livelihood on the shore of Lake Victoria.  Maritime Studies (2019) 18:321–333. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40152-019-00146-1

Bolwig, S., Ponte, S. Riisgaard, L. du Toit, A. and Halberg, N. (2011) A Methodology for Integrating Developmental Concerns into Value Chain Analysis and Interventions. In: Mitchell, J. and Cole, C. (Eds.) Markets and rural poverty: upgrading in value chains. London, EarthScan. Pp. 21-45.

Svarstad, H., Benjaminsen, T.A. and Overå, R. (2018) Power theories in political ecology. Journal of Political Ecology, 25, 350-363. https://doi.org/10.2458/v25i1.23044

Myers, M. & Hansen, C. P. (2019) Revisiting A Theory of Access: A review. Society & Natural Resources, https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2018.1560522

Anderson, M. and Leach, M. (2019) Transforming food systems. The potential of an engaged political economy. IDS Bulletin ‘The Political Economy of Food’, 50, 2: 131-146. https://doi.org/10.19088/1968-2019.123

Peter Andersen – Food system changes and nutrition: what are the challenges?

De Schutter, O., 2017: The political economy of food systems reform. European Review of Agricultural Economics vol. 44, 3:705-731.

Fiorella, K.J., R.L. Chen, E.M. Milner and L.C.H. Fernald, 2016: Agricultural interventions for improved nutrition: A review of livelihood and environmental dimensions. Global Food Security 8:39-47.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2016.03.003 

Gómez, M.I. et al., 2013: Post-green revolution food systems and the triple burden of malnutrition. Food Policy 42:129-138.

Popkin, B.M., 2014: Nutrition, agriculture and the global food system in low and middle income countries. Food Policy 47: 91-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.05.001

Webb, P. and E. Kennedy, 2014: Impacts of agriculture on nutrition: Nature of the evidence and research gaps. Food and Nutrition Bulletin vol. 35, no. 1:126-132

Anne Hatløy –Food and nutrition security strategies on household level

HLPE. 2017. Nutrition and food systems. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome.  http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7846e.pdf (page 43-66)

FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2019. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019. Safeguarding against economic slowdowns and downturns. Rome, FAO. http://www.fao.org/3/ca5162en/ca5162en.pdf (page 1-46)

UNICEF (2019). The State of the World’s Children 2019. Children, Food and Nutrition: Growing well in a changing world. UNICEF, New York. https://www.unicef.org/reports/state-of-worlds-children-2019 (page 64-119)

Anna Milford – Transitions towards sustainable consumption

Poore, Joseph, and Thomas Nemecek. "Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers." Science 360.6392 (2018): 987-992.

Milford, Anna Birgitte, and Charlotte Kildal. "Meat Reduction by Force: The Case of “Meatless Monday” in the Norwegian Armed Forces." Sustainability 11.10 (2019): 2741.

Milford, A. B., Le Mouël, C., Bodirsky, B. L., & Rolinski, S. (2019). Drivers of meat consumption. Appetite 141, 104314.

Laura T. Raynolds (2017) Fairtrade labour certification: the contested incorporation of plantations and workers, Third World Quarterly, 38:7, 1473-1492, DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2016.1272408

Milford, Anna B. "The pro-competitive effect of coffee cooperatives in Chiapas, Mexico." Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization 10.1 (2012).

Milford, Anna B. "Co-operative or coyote? Producers’ choice between intermediary purchasers and Fairtrade and organic co-operatives in Chiapas." Agriculture and human values 31.4 (2014): 577-591.

Inger Elisabeth Måren -- Transforming global food systems to meet the SDGs

Godfray H.C.J., Beddington J.R., Crute I.R., Haddad L., Lawrence D., Muir J.F., Pretty J., Robinson S., Thomas S.M. & Toulmin C. (2010) Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People. Science 327: 812-818.

Caron et al. (2018) Food systems for sustainable development: proposals for a profound four-part transformation. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 38: 41. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-018-0519-1

Måren I.E. (2019) Food systems for sustainable terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15). Food Ethics 2(2), 155-159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41055-018-00032-2

IPCC (2019). Climate Change and Land. An IPCC Special Report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. Summary for Policymakers.