Systems Science Friday Noon Seminar Series



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Proposals for biodiversity conservation as related to the dominant form of human land use, agriculture, have broadly coalesced around two paradigms: "Land sparing" and "Wildlife-friendly farming." Neither paradigm is sufficiently grounded in the more complex socioeconomic realities of the food system with regards to another paramount problem of our time: widespread malnutrition. However, the "land sparing" paradigm's simplistic approach to food, policy, and ecosystem dynamics is arguably more egregiously out of sync with current knowledge. The talk will present a conceptual view of food systems, hunger, and biodiversity conservation, with the goal of generating discussion on how to systematically integrate the different and sometimes clashing perspectives different academic areas bring to this debate. Without more sophisticated, integrative, and value-explicit assessments and models, and the recognition of the need for discontinuous change, we risk intensifying a system known to have severe consequences for biodiversity alongside notable failures to reduce hunger, or alternatively, modifying it in ways that ameliorate neither problem.

Biographical Information

Jahi Chappell is assistant professor of Environmental Science and Justice in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and faculty affiliate of the Center for Social and Environmental Justice at Washington State University Vancouver. His research on the political ecology of sustainable development focuses on the issues of food security, agroecology, conservation biology, and social and environmental justice. Practically speaking, this involves study of the design, development and implementation of food and conservation policies at various scales, with a specific focus on how one may influence (and hopefully support) the other. To do this, he applies tools from diverse areas, from political science, sociology, anthropology, science and technology studies and economics to metapopulation theory, theoretical biology, agroecology, and conservation and community ecology. Rather than attempting to specialize in all of these areas simultaneously, he specializes in synthesizing their approaches and research and on making their perspectives mutually intelligible. His work thus vitally depends on the cultivation and maintenance of collaboration with a diverse group of scholars and practitioners.

His research to date has focused on the ecological implications of the unprecedented successes of the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil in addressing food security. He plans to continue and expand his research of Brazilian food policy systems, as well as to begin study on the effects and implications of urban agriculture on food security and biodiversity in the Portland-Vancouver area.


Biodiversity conservation, Land use -- Social aspects, Land use -- Environmental aspects, Agricultural landscape management, Agricultural systems


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Environmental Policy

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The 'Goldilocks Hypothesis' : A Political Ecology of the Land-sparing/Wildlife-friendly Farming Debate