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Prefiguring sustainable food enterprises for sustainability education

This research is supported by a Formas Early Career Researcher Mobility Grant (decision number: FR-2021/0004).

The project explores how sustainable food entrepreneurs and change agents attempt to 'be the change they want to see' through their enterprises.

Specifically, I will be studying:

  1. How can sustainable food enterprises be understood as both an outcome and a process?

  2. What are the social, economic, and political factors that influence whether sustainable food entrepreneurs and change agents can live out their values through their enterprise?

  3. How do sustainable food entrepreneurs and change agents navigate the tensions between their desire to live out their values and constraints that prevent them from doing so?

  4. What sustainability competencies do sustainable food entrepreneurs and change agents develop through attempting to live out their values through their enterprise?

To answer these questions, I will be conducting research in Calgary, Canada, and Malmö, Sweden.

Key terms and concepts in my research

Prefiguration: the practice of attempting to construct alternative or utopian social and/or material relations in the present (Yates, 2015). (Attempting to 'be the change you want to see!')

Sustainable food enterprise: Initiatives with social/and or environmental mission(s) that engage in food production, distribution, processing, service, retail, rescue, waste management, and/or education. They will often offer alternative products, be part of alternative networks, and/or engage in alternative economic practices (Rosol, 2020).

Sustainable food system: A system state in which there are healthy, adequate, and safe diets for all, the planet is clean and healthy, the food system thrives economically to support the common good, and is just, ethical, and equitable (Hebinck et al., 2021).

Why prefiguration?

Prefiguration is a necessary precursor to the radical transformations we need to address the inequalities, power differentials, and environmental degradation present in our food system. Prefiguration is a highly pedagogical practice, and this is important because learning is a key leverage point for transformations towards sustainability.

 

What are the practical implications of this study?

My aim is that findings will be useful to help policymakers and planners better understand how to create environments where prefigurative sustainable food enterprise can thrive. I also intend to produce findings to help sustainable food entrepreneurs and change agents better understand how to navigate the tensions between sustainability ambitions and the constraints that reality poses.

If you want to learn more about this project, please don't hesitate to contact me at rebecca.laycock_pedersen (at) lucsus (dot) lu (dot) se.

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