Category Archives: News

Multiple PhD scholarships offered

8 fully funded PhD scholarships are being jointly offered by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. They are open to a broad range of social science applicants and are focused on the social implications of new technologies being developed by the Future Science Platforms of the CSIRO.

Applications close January 31 2019.

For more information please visit the CSIRO-UQ Responsible Innovation Program website.


Two PhD scholarship opportunities CSIRO/UQ

CSIRO, in collaboration with the University of Queensland, is offering 8 PhD scholarships for social researchers in the field of ‘Responsible Innovation’ for projects starting in the first half of 2019. There are projects on diverse topics, some of which might be of specific interest to the agri-food community, and which are being supervised from members of the Agri-Food Network. Specific topics of interest to the network include: new personalised foods and impacts for health; social, legal and ethical implications of the digital revolution in agriculture; and the impact of cultural diversity on the development and use of novel biological systems.

If you, or someone you know is looking for a post graduate research opportunity, this could be for you!. Please visit the website for further details of projects on offer, and for details of how to apply.

Projects of direct relevance to the network include:

1.      Shaping the Digital Revolution in Agriculture: Understanding Ethical, Legal and Social Implications. Supervised by Emma Jakku and Simon Fielke CSIRO), Kiah Smith and Kristen Lyons (UQ)

2.      The Impact of Cultural Diversity on the Development and use of Novel Biological Systems. Supervised by Lucy Carter and Marcus Barber (CSIRO), Kristen Lyons (UQ)


Applications close 31 January, 2019, with a start date scheduled for April.

Please contact Kristen Lyons for more information.

Call for abstracts, ESRS 2019 – Working Group 1

Abstract submissions are now open for the 2019 European Society for Rural Sociology (ESRS) Conference to be held in Trondheim, Norway, June 25-28. We invite you to submit an abstract under Working Group 1: Digital Agriculture and Sustainable Rural and Food Futures.

Digital agriculture refers broadly to the application as well as integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for improving efficiency, productivity and sustainability in agricultural production. The purpose of this Working Group is to critically examine the relationship between digital agriculture and rural and food sustainability. We specifically invite papers that:

  • Unpack the meaning of ‘sustainable’ rural and food futures in the context of digital agriculture;
  • Explore how digital agriculture is assembled as an object and vehicle of sustainable rural and food governance;
  • Examine the ways in which digital agriculture intersects, and is constituted through, other processes of rural governing such as financialization, standardization and neoliberalization;
  • Historicize contemporary debates and update sociological analysis of digital agriculture in relation to analyses from the 1990s (e.g., Wolf and Wood; Wolf and Buttel);
  • Investigate the possibilities for contestation, resistance, and alternative ways of organising/performing the relationship between digital agriculture and rural and food sustainability.
  • Provide detailed case studies of how digital agriculture is implemented within specific regions and/or industries; and,
  • Develop new or novel ways of conceptualising the relationships and tensions between digital agriculture and rural and food sustainability.

Abstracts can be uploaded at the following website. Please note that the deadline for abstract submission is January 10.

For further information, please contact the Working Group contact, Associate Professor Vaughan Higgins

Call for Papers: Biennial German Geography Congress (Kiel, Germany | 25 – 30 September 2019)

The biennial German Geography Congress (Deutscher Kongress für Geography, DKG) is the most important geography conference in Germany. For more information please visit the website (Note: in German only).

Abstracts need to be submitted directly through the conference website on or before January 25, 2019. You need to provide a title (max. 160 characters), a short abstract (max. 200 characters) and a full abstract (max. 2,500 characters). Papers will be selected based on a review by session organizers. Authors will be notified about the status of their submission by the end of March 2019, registration will start April 1st 2019

Session title: Digitization, Big Data and the New Geographies of Food (L9-FS-233)

Digitization, “big data” and advanced analytics profoundly reshape the way the food chain operates, opening up new spaces of legibility, control, and value extraction at every node of it. Among others, this includes the proliferation of smart and precision farming technologies at the point of production, the implementation of blockchain technologies that enable buyers to trace their ordered products in real time across the wholefood chain, or the production and harnessing of unseen volumes of consumer data by (online) retailers and other actors interested in selling “stuff”, or the information related to it. Such changes are likely to result in new geographies of food chains.

While industry players have celebrated these various moments of digitally induced food chain transformation under banners such as agriculture 4.0 or the smart food chain, critics have voiced concerns. These concerns relate to the monetization and commodification of various forms of data along the food supply chain, raising issues of data sovereignty; the spread of oligopolistic practices of a few key data brokers known from other domains of the agtech economy; and the potential for capital to intensify the control over, and extraction of, value from labour and nature.

The aim of this session is to critically interrogate the risks and opportunities that lie within digital food futures. We invite proposals for papers addressing (but not limited to) one or more of the following aspects of the “digital revolution” across the food chain:

– Smart farming, precision farming, and drone farming
– Blockchain technologies and their impact on supply chain management, logistics, and producer-consumer relations
– Silicon Valley goes farming: the rise of AG tech focused venture capital and private equity
– The tendency for oligopolization in data-based domains of the economy
– The implications of digital technologies and automation for labour and nature
– Issues of big data and data sovereignty
– Environmental footprint management
– Emergence of closed/privatized versus open/open source platforms
– The changing spatiality, sociality and materiality of digital food chains
– Entry points for digital political activism and a radicalization of food futures

We welcome submissions in English or German. Please direct any questions to the session organizers Sarah Ruth Sippel and Stefan Ouma.

Session title: Local diversity, global unity? Theories and practices of socio-ecological transformations of agri-food systems (L5-FS-108)

Stream: Geography and Global Change

Short Abstract: The need to transform current agri-food systems towards more sustainable pathways is widely acknowledged amongst experts. But how do those alternative approaches differ in theory and practice?

Full Abstract:Academic, governmental, civic and economic stakeholders alike stress the necessity and urgency to change the dominant agri-food regime. Seminal publications to that effect include, amongst other, the 2008 IAASTD world agriculture report “Agriculture at a Crossroads” or the final report by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2014). They paint an alarming picture of present agricultural systems and related global value chains. They warn us that “business as usual is not an option” if we want to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and human health, and achieve environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development for all.

At the same time, we find an increasingly complex landscape of “alternative food” approaches, ranging from various organic standards / certification systems, and terms such as organic or biodynamic farming, permaculture, agroecology, ecological intensification to an emphasis on community supported agriculture (CSA), fair trade, urban agriculture, seasonality, local and regional food and more.

The increasing attention paid to alternative agri-food systems in academic and public debates offers new opportunities but also raises new questions for agri-food geographies. For this session, we invite theoretical / conceptual papers – possibly also empirically grounded and/ or including regional comparisons – that engage with but are not limited to one or more of the following questions:

•             How can we define “alterity” with regard to agriculture and food systems? Which formalised (e.g. standards) and non-formalised approaches of “alternative“ agri-food systems exist? In what way do they differ from each other?

•             What are paradigms and phases of the debate? Which approaches and terms have been most successful, under which specific conditions, and in which contexts? How can we explain this? To what extent do these approaches complement and reinforce each other, how far do they compete with or contradict each other?

•             How can these approaches, which are generally developed in very specific geographical and societal contexts, be translated into other languages and transferred to other geographical locations? Which challenges does this imply? Are comparisons possible and/or reasonable?

•             In what ways do changing relationships and understandings of urbanity and rurality play a role in these “alternative“ systems?

We welcome submissions in English or German. Please direct any questions to the session organizers Amelie Bernzen and Marit Rosol.


Unsettling Food Politics: Agriculture, Dispossession and Sovereignty in Australia

AFRN member, Christopher Mayes, has a new book titled Unsettling Food Politics: Agriculture, Dispossession and Sovereignty in Australia. It is available for purchase (hardback and e-book) from most online outlets, as well as directly from the publisher.

The publishers have generously offered 60% off the hardback and 30% off the e-book price. Visit Christopher’s blog to access the code for the discount (only via the publisher’s website).

An extract of the book has been adapted for an article for ABC Religion & Ethics – ‘Is eating a settler-colonial act? Food justice and Indigenous sovereignty

Job Opportunity: Lancaster University

Lancaster Environment Centre
Salary:   £34,189 to £39,609
Closing Date:   Tuesday 25 September 2018
Interview Date:   Tuesday 09 October 2018
Reference:  A2403

Lancaster University wishes to appoint a Senior Research Associate – N8 AgriFood Knowledge Exchange (KE) who will work within Lancaster University and across the N8 universities, developing new and sustainable partnerships with key stakeholders of the N8 Agri-Food Resilience Programme that generate positive impacts on the resilience of the Agri-food system. The N8 is a partnership of eight research–intensive universities in the North of England: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York to develop its Agri-Food Resilience Programme, N8 AgriFood. This multi-disciplinary initiative is aiming to transform agri-food research in the UK. The programme will build on the N8’s research strengths in science, engineering and the social sciences to address key global challenges in food security, including sustainable food production, resilient food supply chains, and improved nutrition and consumer behaviours.

You will focus on accelerating and amplifying the social and economic impact of the research insights generated within the programme. We are particularly interested in applicants who can demonstrate a track record of co-evolving research with stakeholders, have a relevant research background and experience in communicating with a wide range of stakeholders within Higher Education and externally.

The post will commence 1 November 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter and be for 19 months.

Informal enquiries can be addressed to Professor John Quinton, Lancaster Environment Centre, tel. 01524 593654, or Professor Marian Rufino, tel. 01524 592819,

Lancaster University welcomes applications from people in all diversity groups.

To view the position description and to apply, please visit the job listing here.