Photo caption: Patel's current documentary project "The Ants and the Grasshopper" with acclaimed "Hoop Dreams" director Steven James collected 10 years of stories from around the world of people breaking rules to feed their communities.
For the first time since November 2019, The Forum series at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be presented live and in-person in Schofield Auditorium.
The 79th season of The Forum welcomes author, journalist, filmmaker, professor, and global food system and policy expert Raj Patel. Patel’s presentation is titled “How do we feed 10 billion people sustainably?”
With bachelor’s degrees in economics and public policy from the University of Oxford, a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. in development sociology from Cornell University, Patel’s expertise has led to the publication of multiple bestselling books, frequent multinational television appearances and published submissions in print media across the globe.
Patel was awarded the James Beard Leadership Award in 2016. The Beard Foundation is a nonprofit that pushes for quality and standards in the American food industry and for universal recognition of the “centrality of food to the quality of life.”
Patel is a research professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, with teaching centered on social development policy, and research focused on food systems, world ecology and international economic policy. In addition to his work at UT Austin, Patel is a senior research associate at Rhodes University in South Africa.
Outside of academia, Patel has worked for the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and as a consultant about food systems for the United Nations. He is also a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.
In keeping with The Forum tradition, the guest speaker will be introduced by a Blugold student. Molly Larson is a senior geography major from Eau Claire and an intern in the Student Office of Sustainability (SOS). She is looking forward to hearing Patel address the critical issues of food supply and accessibility.
“Many people think that there is just not enough food to feed everyone on the planet, but we currently produce enough food to feed 10 billion people,” Larson says. “So why are millions around the world food insecure, including right here in the U.S.? I am interested in what Dr. Patel has to say about these topics, and how we can better distribute food in an equitable way, how we need to change our food systems to meet the needs of people everywhere.”
In addition to his evening presentation, Patel will visit classrooms for courses in sustainability with Dr. Karen Mumford, “Sustainability Basics and Beyond” and “Intentional Environmental Problems and Policy.”
“While the topic areas covered in these two classes are similar, Dr. Patel’s vast experiences in sustainability and economics will allow him to draw on different stories and perspectives on these issues,” says Mumford, an associate professor of public health and environmental studies. “Given the prominent role of agriculture in Wisconsin communities, his work in agroecology in addressing global food crises will make for exceptional conversation.”