Professor Karen Charlton, from the School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences at the University of Wollongong is an internationally recognised nutrition scientist and research dietitian. She was awarded her ARC Future Fellowship and funding of $1,066,940 over four years for her project, “Creating a sustainable, healthy, and equitable food system”. Two PhD scholarships are available for this project.
The project aims to develop a whole-of-food system approach to inform the development of a regional food strategy in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven of NSW in order to result in a more healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system (Figure). A multi-disciplinary approach, based on that of the US Vermont Farm to Plate initiative, will bring together key stakeholders to collectively increase availability and access to locally sourced food, increase consumer awareness of the role of sustainability in food choices, accompanied with a retail “Love Local” campaign. Partners include four local governments, agribusinesses, the retail and processing sector and civil society organizations. The knowledge created by this project will inform recommendations for policy and legislative reforms that will empower local governments and communities to respond to food system challenges.
For the two PhD scholarships, there will be some flexibility in exact topics within the larger project, however it is envisioned that the two PhDs will be structured as follows:
PHD 1. Creating enabling environments for local food systems solutions
In partnership with Healthy Cities Illawarra (HCI) & Food Fairness Illawarra (FFI), the candidate will:
- Evaluate and refine the delivery of the Wollongong Online Farmer’s market;
- Implement a “Love Local” retail campaign with local food outlets and supermarkets that includes appropriate signposting of products and results in grocers to increase their sourcing of locally produced food;
- Develop a consumer education/awareness and marketing campaign that builds on the FFI Fair Food Field guide to encourage more residents to shop at independent, locally owned grocers;
- Add an Illawarra and Shoalhaven Food Atlas function (an online platform which will provide a mapping function to find all food-related organizations, and online Farmers Markets in the region) to the FFI Fair Food Directory to encourage food ecotourism;
- Undertake consumer education, to improve food literacy of Illawarra and Shoalhaven residents (through existing HCI channels such as Stir it up, FFI Fair Food field guide, Dinner Table Project);
- Engage with the 4 local governments to implement food systems change.
- Create 2 Stakeholder Working Groups within the FFI framework that each address a leverage point for change, namely:
- Aggregation & Distribution (assessing demand for local food at locally owned/independent retail outlets in the region and better understand their interest and volume and packaging needs); and
- Consumer Education & Marketing (to develop a consumer education and marketing campaign to encourage food shopping at independent, locally owned grocers).
The candidate will be located at Healthy Cities Illawarra offices in Fairy Meadow and work closely with Kelly Andrews (CEO) and Berbel Franse (Program Manager, Food Sustainability & Community Nutrition). The UOW academic co-supervisor is yet to be confirmed.
PHD 2: Co-designing local food system solutions through partnerships, people and policy
The first stage of this PhD is a design thinking inspired co-design approach to engage stakeholders and build coalitions of support. This is a critical step to implementing a change agenda that facilitates the formation of an interconnected local food system in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region. This approach looks through four key lenses: what is desirable, possible, viable and scalable. The candidate will:
- Develop 5 Stakeholder Working Groups that each address a leverage point for change, namely: Farmland Access & Stewardship (including traditional land owners and Indigenous residents); Dairy and Beef Development (farmers); Blue economy (fisheries, oyster farmers); Education & Workforce Development (preK-12 educators, TAFE and adult learning programs, university curricula); and Uni-Food (campus workplace approach to transform UOW campus food environments). An additional 2 stakeholder groups will be developed by the other PhD candidate (Aggregation & Distribution and Consumer Education & Marketing).
- Conduct ongoing work with the key stakeholder groups, using feedback to continuously inform the iterative design process and cultivate a sense of trust and ownership of the final outputs. Identifying primary barriers and opportunities to growing, accessing and consuming local food from these different perspectives will allow framing of what is technically possible, economically viable, and practically scalable.
- Develop a roadmap of opportunities that have been generated and validated by stakeholder engagement and develop operational action plans for the identified opportunities (including how, and to what extent, stakeholders can be involved and lead into Stage 2 which is developing, implementing and evaluating the interventions).
This PhD will involve some travel to the Shoalhaven region and be co-supervised by Dr Anita Stefoska-Needham who has extensive experience in co-design methodology.
How to apply:
Contact Karen Charlton: firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance for more information.
Applications need to be submitted through UOW Future students, ticking the box to be considered for a scholarship and naming Prof Karen Charlton as the supervisor (School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences, SMAH Faculty). https://applytouow.uow.edu.au/app/welcomeHdr.jsp
A brief outline of the project you wish to be considered for is required in the online application (this can be taken from the above text) – please state that this will be associated with the ARC Future Fellowship of Prof Charlton.