The first of the University of Kent’s Signature Research Themes have recently been announced, and are a key part of the University’s strategy to further develop its global research profile. Out of the shortlist of eight potential themes, the first three selected themes are:
Dr Silvio Caputo, Director of Research and Innovation, and member of CASE Research Centre at Kent School of Architecture and Planning, represents the Division of Arts and Humanties in the Signature Theme: ‘Food Systems, Natural Resources and the Environment’. This theme aims at developing world-class research on the production, processing and consumption of food (i.e. food systems), the impact of these systems on the environment, and the socio-cultural context determining food choices. Dr Silvio Caputo was one of the three proponents of the theme, bringing his expertise on urban agriculture and sustainable food planning, and his experience of working in highly interdisciplinary research projects. Alongside Dr Silvio Caputo, other proponents are Professor of Biochemsistry, Martin Warren, from the Division of Natural Sciences, and Dr Dan Petrovici, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Kent Business School. Professor George Chryssochoidis will chair the Signature Theme.
The Theme’s vision states, “This Signature Theme aims to become a leading centre in Food Systems studies and beyond. Our aim is to influence stakeholders including research, public policy and organisations in the evolution of business models, food cultures, diets, land use and more. The range of expertise included in our team can generate comprehensive solutions to the challenge of sustainable food chain systems and related issues.
This Signature Theme will aim to identify approaches to reduce the impact of food systems and move towards sustainable food consumption. We define food systems as ‘all the elements (environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, institutions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, and the outputs of these activities’ (HLPE, 2017). For instance, interdisciplinary ground-breaking research can consider how to ensure food security and healthy food, sustainable consumption and consumer’s behaviour, look at cultures of food and human-animal relationships, and investigate how land use patterns can enable restoration of local and global ecosystems, and will have a strong impact on policy and industry.”