Campus News Georgia Impact

Spreading ideas

Julia Gaskin (right)

New initiative will focus on sustainable food systems

What we eat and how we grow our food impact everything from the health of the environment to international trade, obesity and malnutrition rates around the globe. 

So when Julia Gaskin and Mark Risse, Extension specialists with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, set out to develop a teaching and research initiative in sustainable food systems, they knew they would have to take an interdisciplinary approach. 

They and a handful of faculty in geography, agriculture, ecology and anthropology are hosting a campus-wide faculty forum on Oct. 30 beginning at 8 a.m. at the Fanning Institute for Leadership in an effort to build a community of food system researchers at the university. The hope is to garner interest to launch a Sustainable Food Systems Initiative on campus.

“We are trying to make this a broad-based effort, because we feel that real solutions to our challenge of feeding the world’s population and to food and nutrition problems here at home can only come from looking at these problems from a variety of perspectives,” said Gaskin, who currently serves as the sustainable agriculture coordinator for the college. 

Tim Griffin, director of the Agriculture, Food and Environmental Program at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy, will give the keynote address at 8:45 a.m.

Seven faculty members will make presentations during the forum’s morning session, which begins at 10:20 a.m.

During the afternoon, organizers are inviting all faculty who are currently working on food system topics to give a five-minute, one-slide briefing on their work. 

The main goal of the symposium is to bring faculty from different departments and colleges together and get them talking about their projects to see how they might work together, said Risse, the Georgia Power Professor of Water Resources in the agricultural and environmental sciences college. 

“We really hope that this forum serves as a springboard for getting faculty from across campus working together under a common initiative,” he said. 

Interested faculty can register for the forum online by clicking on the faculty forum link at or by  emailing The registration deadline is Oct. 24.