Another great job opportunity: Policy Coordinator with the Berkeley Food Institute

Berkeley Food Institute News

BFI is Now Accepting Applications for a Policy Coordinator Position

I’m not a jobs blog, but I play one on TV…

I have a lot of respect for and excitement about the Berkeley Food Institute, which involves people I hold in great esteem, like seminal agroecologist Miguel Altieri, my friend Alastair Iles and his faculty co-director Claire Kremen, and BFI’s Executive Director Ann Thrupp. An exciting Institute amidst a lot of exciting thinkers doing great work. SO, take your opportunity to work for them and apply!

Applications are now being accepted for the position of Policy Coordinator with the Berkeley Food Institute.

The Policy Coordinator at the Berkeley Food Institute will be responsible for implementing BFI’s policy program activities that are aimed to increase the usefulness, application, and impact of research (and education) at UC Berkeley that can inform or support policies for sustainable food and agriculture systems. The Policy Coordinator will serve as a liaison between BFI and relevant policy organizations, government agencies, and legislators who deal with food systems. She/he will help facilitate effective multi-directional exchange of information on key policy issues, by communicating research needs that are identified by policy-makers, and summarizing and disseminating findings of BFI/UC Berkeley studies that can inform policy making or effect change in this field.

For job details and to apply visit and search for job #18300. Please submit a cover letter and resume as a single attachment when applying.

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Empowered Africa: A Progressive Dialogue on Sustainability, Peace and Democracy – Aug 4, 2014

Event coming up next week in DC. I will be there speaking on food sovereignty, trade, and the Open Source Seed Initiative.

The webpage says invitation only, but registration is now open to the public!


Click here to view the full agenda

Creating Our Own Space & Changing the Conversation

Taking place on the eve of President Obama’s African Leaders Summit, the Empowered Africa Dialogue will provide an alternative space where grassroots citizen-activists, scholars, progressive NGOs and community organizers from Africa and the United States will critique, from a progressive and proactive perspective, significant issues related to US-Africa policy.

Positioned as a counter to the African Leaders Summit, Empowered Africa will gather a broad range of constituencies and multi-issue organizations from the United States and Africa that have influenced progressive organizing on U.S.-Africa relations. These organizations include those working on human rights, conflict, labor, gender, climate justice, health and sustainable development locally and transnationally.

The Dialogue is an important opportunity to focus renewed attention on Africa by bringing in new energy from young activists and organizers on the continent. Participants from Africa and the U.S. come with many experiences and multiple perspectives on how to shape not only foreign policy agendas but also domestic ones.

Defining the Moment

In his second term, President Obama initiated three programs to demonstrate an interest in Africa. He committed $7 billion over five years to “Power Africa,” a largely corporate initiative aimed at increasing access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was established to train 500 young people from Africa in entrepreneurship and business, civic leadership, and public management. The final project is the African Leaders Summit in Washington, DC on August 5-6. Our people’s event will occur the previous day.

The heads of state summit, the first of its kind, provides us with a unique opportunity to help shape the public debate and hold the Obama administration and African heads of State accountable on critical issues of peace and militarism, democracy, sustainability and climate justice.

Our goals are to build solidarity between U.S. and African based activists and to provide a space to critically engage US-Africa policy and strategies to transform it.


9:00 to 9:30 a.m.
Registration and Resource Tables

9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Toward an Inclusive Dialogue on US-Africa Relations
Brenda Mofya, Oxfam International
Sulayman Nyang, Howard University
Anita Plummer, Spelman College, Moderating

10:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Break and Resource Tables

11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Concurrent Discussion Group Sessions

Climate Justice on Our Common Planet
Mithika Mwenda, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
Jacqui Patterson, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Brandon Wu, ActionAid
Katherine Philipson, US-Africa Network, Moderating

Militarism and Human Security
Horace Campbell, Syracuse University
Maurice Carney, Friends of the Congo
Brenda Mofya, Oxfam International
Michael Shank, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Emily Williams, US-Africa Network, Moderating

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
(Buffet lunch will be available on site for $10.05 per person.)

1:30 to 1:45 p.m.
Please proceed to your next discussion group.

1:45 to 3:15 p.m.
Concurrent Discussion Group Sessions

Agribusiness and Land Grabbing
Jacques Bahati, Africa Faith and Justice Network
M. Jahi Chappelle, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Scholastica Haule, ActionAid Tanzania
TBD, ActionAid USA, Moderating

Trade Unions and Democracy from Below
Bill Fletcher, American Federation of Government Employees
Able Ngigie, United Workers Union of Liberia
Nancy Parker, United Steelworkers
Oretha Tarnue, United Workers Union of Liberia
Janet Checkley, Solidarity Center, Moderating

Rising Inequality and Illicit Financial Flows
William Minter, AfricaFocus Bulletin
Alvin Mosioma, Tax Justice Network Africa
Khadija Sharife, African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting
Evelyn Sallah, Unchain Africa Press, Moderating

3:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Break and Resource Tables

3:45 to 5:30 p.m.
An Alternative Vision of US-Africa Relations
Kari Miller, US-Africa Network, Moderating
Prexy Nesbit, US-Africa Network, Moderating

Wednesday, August 5, 2014
Networking Dinner
6:30 PM
Addis Ababa Restaurant
8233 Fenton Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910

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Interesting Job Opportunity: Coordinator for the Global Alliance for the Future of Food?

A great opportunity to help shape an alliance of funders’ efforts on nothing less than The Future of Food. The alliance works on Agroecological TransitionsAdvancing Well-beingExternalities and True Cost Accounting, and Scaling for SustainabilityFrom what I know of their work, they support great on-the-ground work and are seriously interested in how to spread impact without losing the advancement of true social justice, agroecology, and sustainability.  See below.


Call for Applications for Working Group Coordinator 

Organization Name: New Venture Fund
Project: Global Alliance for the Future of Food
Position: Working Group Coordinator (Consultant)
Time requirements: 0.6 FTE Negotiable
Location: Negotiable
Application Deadline: Friday 12 September 2014 5:00 PM EDT

Global Alliance for the Future of Food

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is an alliance of foundations committed to cultivating healthy,  equitable, renewable, resilient, and culturally diverse food and agriculture systems shaped by people,  communities, and their institutions. The Global Alliance represents approximately 30 foundations from 10  countries with diverse interests and expertise, spanning health, agriculture, food, conservation, cultural diversity  and community well-being. At the core of the Global Alliance is a shared belief in the urgency of leveraging our  resources to help shift food and agriculture systems towards greater sustainability, security, and equity, and in the  power of working together and with others to effect positive change. The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is  a project of the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest  projects and grantmaking programs.   The Opportunity  The Global Alliance is seeking a new Working Group Coordinator to support its four current Working Groups:  Championing Agro-Ecological Transitions Working Group (AETWG); Advancing Well-Being Working Group (AWBWG);  Externalities and True Cost Accounting Working Group (ETCWG); and, Scaling for Sustainability Working Group  (SFSWG). Overseen by the Global Alliance Coordinator and in close collaboration with the four Working Group Leads and  members of the Working Groups, the new Working Group Coordinator will build on the early strategic work that  has been done across the Working Groups and help the Global Alliance realize even greater impact vis-à-vis  advancing sustainable global agriculture and food systems. The Working Group Coordinator will have a broad  portfolio of responsibilities, including coordination and management of the Working Groups; strategy  development; critical thinking about issues, goals, priorities; project management; and monitoring and evaluation  of Working Group developments and the activities in which they engage.  As an alliance of foundations that aims to support the generation of new and different solutions at the global level  that take us beyond our usual strategies, we are seeking a qualified professional who can work in an adaptive and complex environment to advance knowledge and action around our four priority areas, help us to understand  each other’s activities better, and capitalize on our comparative advantages while focusing our collective energies  to influence effective change. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to help shape and support the thoughtful  stewarding of charitable, investment, and human resources for the ecological, economic, and social and cultural  well-being of the future of food.

Application at

More information on the global alliance at

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Explaining Absolute Absences: A Critical Reply to Scott Frickel, Abby Kinchy

Originally posted on Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective:

Author Information: Abby Kinchy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,

Kinchy, Abby. “Explaining Absolute Absences: A Critical Reply to Scott Frickel.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 4 (2014): 24-29.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink:

Please refer to:

In science and technology studies, the recent turn to studies of ignorance (including secrecy, suppression of research agendas, and abandoned knowledge) has offered new ways of revealing that “things could have been otherwise”. In his insightful contribution on how to…

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New paper: Navigating conflicting landscape aspirations. Application of a photo-based Q-method in Transylvania (Central Romania)

Originally posted on Ideas for Sustainability:

Andra Ioana Milcu, Kate Sherren, Jan Hanspach, David Abson, Joern Fischer. Land Use Policy (full paper available here or here)

How do locals look at their landscape and what do they want from it? These are two questions we’ve been trying to answer since the start of our research project, and the answers are “differently” and “many things” respectively. These questions are interesting to ask in the context of any cultural landscape, but all the more of those subject to increased and confusing pressures from external drivers. In Southern Transylvania, the global and European socio-economic contexts translate in demanding and often contradicting challenges for the Saxons landscapes. On the one hand, as globalization turns into reality for this region as well, traditional subsistence agriculture loses its economic profitability and agricultural intensification becomes a strong model for development. On the other hand, a growing awareness of the threats and continuous…

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The only winning move is not to play

Originally posted on Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week:

The problem

I find myself reading a lot recently about “portable peer-review” — posts like Take me as I am, and my paper as it is? by scicurious at Neurotic Physiology, which excellently diagnoses a terrible, wasteful problem in scientific publishing:

My papers don’t often get in with minor revisions. Often I’ve got a ridiculously puffed head about my own work (apparently), and send them to places which reject them out of hand, or suggest major revisions and piles of new experiments which we just cannot do for various reasons. Then the paper ends up shuttled around. Send it in, wait 3 months, get rejected. Reformat (+2 mo or even more depending on collaborators and how much other crap you’ve got on your plate at the time) and send it out again. Years go by. In the meantime, suggested reviewers begin to hate me and I run out…

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Paper recommendation: Rejecting Editorial Rejections Revisited: Are Editors of Ecological Journals Good Oracles?

Originally posted on Ideas for Sustainability:


Reommendation of: Farji-Brener A, Kitzberger T.: Rejecting Editorial Rejections Revisited: Are Editors of Ecological Journals Good Oracles? Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 2014 Jul; 95(3):238-242.

This paper looks at a topic we have been pondering for a while now (e.g. here, here or here): do editorial rejections contribute to the publication of good science or are they just arbitrary decisions that are a nuisance for authors? From our experience editorial rejections seem to be increasingly common. Sometimes (and at best) these come as friendly letters by editors who actually read the manuscript, but mostly they are just the set phrases from a rejection template. Sometimes (and in the worst case), editorial rejections are justified using arguments that contradict the actual publication practice of the very same journal (e.g. “We don’t publish papers on single species” when a similar study…

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Talking Real on Food and Farm Prices: Beyond Vox

This graphic and its kin from Brad Plumer’s Vox piece (“Here’s how much each country spends on food“)

find a nice response in this piece by farmer and activist Brad Wilson:

Family Farmers & Rural “Sweatshops” Subsidizing US/World Food:

The points made in this [Vox] article and it’s charts about poverty and the struggle to be able to afford food are extremely important.  Nevertheless, on that point and others, I find the chart project to be seriously inadequate, for example, as explained below.

First, the charts show the US as spending the least on food, which raises a number of questions.  Are we the ones most reliant on “sweatshop labor,” and by that I mean, are we the ones who most exploit the farmers of the world, coercing them into subsidizing us in our food purchases?

We should have no doubt, for decades, US and global farmers have massively subsidized the US food system, and all other food systems, below “living wage” (fair trade) levels, below minimum levels, and below zero.  Directly as a result of this, most US farmers have gone broke.  (And yes, this is a huge contradiction to the myth that farmers have been beneficiaries, not victims, of the “farm” bill.)

Meanwhile those purchasing from them have had repeated years of record profits and record returns on equity (not anything remotely close to a need for being subsidized by farmers, and not with any “means testing” [on means testing for AgBiz, see here]).  We can then ask how much of this exploitation of US and global farmers was passed on through to subsidize the food of all US consumers…


You can read the rest of Brad’s important and fiery piece on ZBlogs here.

It’s important to realize the rest of the story when we see the kinds of analysis Brad Plumer presents, and it’s way past time, as Brad Wilson rightly and regularly points out, for “the rest of the story” to take their rightful prominent place as a main part of any story about food, farms, and prices.

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The Illusion of Mathematical Certainty


Nicely said — something I’ve been thinking for a while, but unable to express this crisply!

Originally posted on Unlearning Economics:

Nate Silver’s questionable foray into predicting World Cup results got me thinking about the limitations of maths in economics (and the social sciences in general). I generally stay out of this discussion because it’s completely overdone, but I’d like to rebut a popular defence of mathematics in economics that I don’t often see challenged. It goes something like this:

Everyone has assumptions implicit in the way they view the world. Mathematics allows economists to state our assumptions clearly and make sure our conclusions follow from our premises so we can avoid fuzzy thinking.

I do not believe this argument stands on its own terms. A fuzzy concept does not become any less fuzzy when you attach an algebraic label to it and stick it into an equation with other fuzzy concepts to which you’ve attached algebraic labels (a commenter on Noah Smith’s blog provided a great example of this by mathematising Freud’s Oedipus complex and pointing…

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Life as a reject (without review)

Originally posted on Ideas for Sustainability:

By Joern Fischer

This blog has a bit of a history of commenting on “academic life”, rather than just on the content of sustainability research (e.g. here). In line with that history, and following a series of rejected papers, I thought I’d share my latest thoughts on rejections with the rest of the world.

Before I do this, I might just highlight some of the less amusing recent experiences I’ve had with the peer review process – all of these with so-called reputable international journals:

  • One paper was rejected without review because it did not fit the scope of a journal – but that same journal had published a paper with virtually the exact same scope in the previous year (same threatened species as a focus, arguably less interesting study area, no more or better data).
  • One paper I co-authored was attacked in a response article. We had never been asked…

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