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____ Monday October 19, 2015 ____



Laurier’s Alison Blay-Palmer appointed CIGI Chair in Sustainable Food Systems

Waterloo – Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS) Director Alison Blay-Palmer has been appointed the Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair in Sustainable Food Systems, located at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Blay-Palmer’s background is in the area of resilient food systems and sustainable communities. Her work brings together community, researchers and many collaborators to shed light on the issues of food systems and community prosperity – using food as a lens to address complex community issues.

Blay-Palmer’s current research received over $2.4 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant Program to support the Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) Partnership. This partnership links two of the most pressing issues of our time – sustainability and food – and will support co-creating knowledge about sustainable regional food systems and explore the current and potential role of community food initiatives across Canada and globally.

“Local and sustainable community food initiatives reflect growing public awareness that food can act as a vehicle for positive change,” said Blay-Palmer. “This support will allow us to engage in hands-on research projects with members of our national and international advisory committees who have up until now only informed our research.”

Through the study of food, citizens, practitioners, policy-makers and academics can grasp the importance of and interconnections between ecological stewardship, social justice, cultural vitality, prosperous economies and citizen engagement.

Blay-Palmer, who is also leader of the Nourishing Ontario research and community outreach project (, has worked for over five years to bring together a group of over seventy Canadian and internal participants into the project. Collaborators include researchers and community members from Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (Guelph, Ontario), Ecology North (Yellowknife, NWT), Garden Party (St. Agatha, Ontario), Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security (The Netherlands), Cardiff University (United Kingdom), Institut national de la recherche argronomique (France) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. A full list of partners can be found on the CSFS website.

“This support for Dr. Blay-Palmer’s work will open more opportunities for Canadian and international cross-disciplinary collaborations in an area that is critical to human health,” said Deborah MacLatchy, vice-president: academic and provost and acting vice-president: Research. “This robust and expanding network of researchers reflects the strong positioning of Laurier and BSIA as leaders in food systems research.”

Jonathan Crush, CIGI chair in Global Migration and Development at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and leader of Laurier’s Hungry Cities Initiative, and Charles Levkoe, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of geography and environmental studies, will also serve as co-investigators on the project.

“Laurier and Kitchener-Waterloo are on the map on the issue of sustainability and food,” said Blay-Palmer. “We’re looking forward to enhancing that reputation and transferring what we learn to our community partners.”

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