Global Food Security
An Interdisciplinary Approach to the World Hunger Challenge
Monmouth's Global Food Security Triad
Sociology and anthropology professor Megan Hinrichsen explains how Monmouth's Global Food Security Triad allows students to address food security issues on both the local and global level.
How do we feed a human population of 9.5 billion or more with food systems that are sustainable, achieve nutritional equity, and ensure access to culturally appropriate food?
This is just one example of the global challenges Monmouth College is attempting to answer through its Global Food Security program. Intentionally bringing together faculty from diverse disciplines (economics, anthropology, and biology), the Global Food Security program aims to prepare students to change the world through studying and better understanding food security.
Food security is continual, reliable access to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food that provides a foundation for the pursuit of one's full human potential. Hunger and malnutrition are major global concerns that can be addressed through ensuring global food security. The United Nations member states recently made a commitment to "end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture" by 2030. Monmouth College shares this goal.
Embracing Monmouth’s liberal arts focus and commitment to an interdisciplinary curriculum, this program provides students the opportunity to learn from, and work with, faculty dedicated to global food security. While seemingly unconnected, economics, anthropology, and biology come together to provide a comprehensive and coherent education in global food security.
Examples of multidisciplinary study associated with food security include:
- Economics—Logistical issues with food distribution; impact of government subsidies on farming and biofuels; role of commodity markets on food production.
- Anthropology—Food as an expression of culture; examination of demographic shifts, changing social mores and practices, and social movements.
- Biology—Optimizing the conversion of sunlight into food energy; the nature and implications of genetic modifications of plants; advantages and hazards associated with agrichemicals.
To frame such a global challenge into a context that fits Monmouth College and its students, the following four questions have been identified in order to guide the work faculty and students undertake:
- How do we feed a human population of 9.5 billion or more with food systems that are sustainable, achieve nutritional equity, and ensure access to culturally appropriate food?
- What are the social/biological/economic consequences of food insecurity for individuals and societies?
- How should we construct sustainable food systems and ensure food security in Western Illinois?
- How do we promote sustainable food systems and create a food culture oriented toward achieving full human potential at Monmouth College?
These questions serve as the backdrop for the rich and engaging experience that Monmouth College and its surroundings provide students. Monmouth College’s geographic location is uniquely suited for discussions of food production and distribution.
Surrounded by prime farmland, Monmouth lies in the heart of a productive agricultural region. Local food-related industries include a pork processing plant that ships 780 million pounds annually and a 480-acre Monsanto research farm. Nearby transportation hubs include the massive Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad classification yard at Galesburg and the Mississippi River, upon which 60 percent of U.S. grain exports travel by barge.