Academic conferences can seem like a strange place for those of us in the alt-ac world. Conferences may not feel like a good fit for freelance academics – as freelancers, we’re not affiliated with mainstream higher education. But academic conferences offer a place to meet and pitch your book to editors, offer a workshop, and present a research paper. Even as a freelance academic, you have a voice as a scholar and expert.
Poverty is a worldwide problem. Urban and rural communities in every country struggle to survive. Poverty means food insecurity or economic and social conditions where people have little or uncertain access to enough food. Food insecurity hits people in urban, rural, and peri-urban areas (communities located around cities). While it’s easy to think that food insecurity is just an urban problem, clearly it is not. Hunger is not in a vacuum. Even if food is abundant, many people don’t have enough food on a regular basis. How can we feed more people? What are the connections between urban-rural agriculture?
The holiday season is here! I enjoyed some downtime over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Now that 2018 is on the horizon, it’s time to look back on my projects for 2017. I’m reviewing my career transition plans since I earned my doctorate in 2015. Yes, I’ve wondered if my PhD was worth it. Was it really worth all the time, money, blood, sweat, tears, uncertainty, fear, worry, headaches, anxiety, and excitement?
What is something that reduces food waste, contributes 15% to 20% of the food worldwide, recycles nutrients, and is complementary to rural agriculture? Urban agriculture. That’s right: food that we grow in the city. Peri-urban agriculture (food grown in areas around the city) is also part of this practice. Collectively, urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) can potentially feed 20 million people in megacities by 2020.
Everyone loves a good story: a good story means good writing. Since Dr. Patti and I completed my doctoral journey, we’ve developed a new appreciation for writing. We earned our writing chops, but writing is an evolving skill.
For example, I push myself to try different forms of writing: blogging, academic, copy writing, drafting proposals for conferences and fellowships, and emails. But another form of writing that I see too often is bad writing. Let’s talk about why scholars need a clue about good writing.
When I first thought about my dissertation, I floundered around for ideas on a research topic. I waffled between different ideas such as water conservation, animal-human relationships, transition town creation, social justice, and sustainability. Qualities of my study had to be:
- Something I was passionate about (passion is key because I’d be stuck working on one idea for many years running).
- Something relevant to the world (I didn’t want my research to sit on the shelf collecting dust in a dark corner of the library).
- Something that contributes to the existing knowledge (Yes, I wanted to add another spoke to the wheel of knowledge).
I discovered that urban food policy had all these qualities. But my real challenge was to answer the questions “So what? Who cares?”
The face of rural farming is changing. Women farmers in developing nations are critical to life and survival in rural communities. But the gender gap continues to fuel hunger:
- Laws and traditions prevent women from owning and inheriting land.
- Women own smaller, poor quality land, resulting in less productive crops.
- Women have limited access to quality seeds, fertilizers and equipment.
If given similar resources as men, women could reduce hunger by 150 million people.