Mar 01
1163 Mechanical Engineering
1513 University Avenue
4:00 PM Food Studies Network

Transforming Our Food Systems

Laura Lengnick and Molly Anderson

Thursday, 1 March

4:00 PM Lecture by Laura Lengnick, “Climate Change, Resilience, and the Future of Food”

Toward the end of the 20th century, global movements of food accelerated in an increasingly specialized and concentrated global food system.  Current food policy continues to favor this path despite the critical sustainability challenges associated with this system.  Emerging research suggests two transformations could put us on a path to a sustainable and resilient food future: re-orientation to regional markets serving major metropolitan areas, and transition to diversified production systems that produce multiple benefits for communities they serve.

5:00 PM Reception 

6:00 PM Lecture by Molly Anderson, “Food Systems Transformation”

The need to change the US food system(s) to be more sustainable is widely recognized, by people ranging from progressive activists to the CEO of Unilever; and there is considerable agreement about the problems:  environmental degradation, low prices for (most) farmers, unconscionably high food insecurity, poor working conditions and wages for foodworkers. But there is little agreement about how these changes can happen.  Anderson will critique prevalent concepts of how change happens in food systems, what is needed for each pathway to result in the desired changes, and whether these conditions exist in the US.

Friday, 2 March

Workshop with Molly Anderson,

“Education for Sustainable Food Systems”

10 AM to noon, followed by lunch at the University Club

By reservation, contact

Food systems programs and food studies are becoming more popular, and courses dealing with food system problems attract large numbers of students.  How can UW-Madison create a cohesive program of study from current resources, and what should be emphasized?  Dr. Anderson will lead workshop participants through the development of “food studies” as a diverse field, various program options that UW-Madison might consider, and how to take the next steps in developing a program.  Participants will gain an understanding of the most common competencies in existing programs and where the field is going, so that UW-Madison can create a program fit for emerging issues.


Molly Anderson is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Food Studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she teaches about fixing food systems, agroecology, food insecurity, and sustainability metrics.  She participates in organizations and networks from the local to international level that focus on transforming our food system in the directions of greater sustainability, equity and resilience.  She is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and works with civil society organizations from the state level to the international Committee on World Food Security. Anderson was the founding director of the Agriculture, Food & Environment Graduate Program at Tufts University’s School of Nutrition Science and Policy and helped to create a Sustainable Food Systems program at College of the Atlantic and Middlebury College.  She has consulted with domestic and international organizations, worked for Oxfam America, and published widely on food systems issues in addition to teaching and academic administration.

Laura Lengnick has explored agriculture and food system sustainability and resilience through more than 30 years of work as a researcher, policy-maker, educator and farmer.  Her work in soil quality and sustainable farming systems was nationally-recognized with a USDA Secretary’s Honor award in 2002 and she contributed to the 3rd National Climate Assessment as a lead author of the 2012 USDA report Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation. After more than a decade leading the academic program in sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson College, Laura left the college in 2014 to launch Cultivating Resilience, LLC a private firm offering ecosystem-based climate risk management services. She is a consultant to the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance and serves as VP of Resilience at Climate Optimize. Her award-winning book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate (New Society Publishers), examines climate change, resilience and the future of food through the adaptation stories of 27 leading sustainable farmers and ranchers across the U.S. You can learn more about Laura and her work at

Sponsored by the Food Studies Network Borghesi-Mellon Workshop of the Center for the Humanities, the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, the Robert F. and Jean E. Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environmental of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Borghesi-Mellon Workshops