Food futures early career research network

By Lisa Höglind, Agnes af Sandberg & Per-Anders Langendahl

Training young (early career) researchers, including research assistants, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers is fundamental in academic activity. To facilitate networking and professional development among the young researchers, we initiated a young researcher network to foster collaboration and networking between the young staff-members of the programme, but also beyond by extending to young researchers in related projects.

The network is founded upon the idea that the food system faces complex challenges, which means that the generation of knowledge that can contribute in the transition to a more sustainable food system cannot be limited to individual research disciplines. The primary objective of the network is to establish a cross-disciplinary forum, where participants can learn more about different research areas relevant to the transition to sustainable food systems and explore opportunities for collaboration within and across disciplines. In its early stages, the network has mainly organized online meetings to facilitate young researchers within Mistra Food Futures in getting to know each other. The next step is to establish the Mistra Food Futures academy around the programme’s young researchers.

In this blog post we like to share some voices and insights from a networking conference that was organized at Radisson Royal Viking Hotel in Stockholm on November 9th, where 17early career researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences participated. The value of meeting other researchers interested in sustainable food transformations must not be underestimated because “there are many ways of thinking and knowing and studying the food system.”, and “as researchers we must see ourselves as a small part of the bigger picture. We don’t make transformation happen ourselves”. At this event, participants gave short presentations from their research projects, which was followed up by thematic discussions around different ways of doing research on food and sustainability as well as challenges and opportunities for collaborations.  “A day like this, that is less formal and provides a space for meeting in person and discussing with others doing related work is a nice “break” that gives me new inspiration and helps me feel motivated forward”.

The value of networking and to meet across the disciplines was clearly appreciated among the participants! “Good to see people outside your project and department for inspiration”. The participants left with positive energy and new research friends: “I go home feeling very inspired by all the cool project other young food system researchers work on. It’s really nice to get the sense of community, exchange ideas and motivate each other. Even though we might not leave the room with concrete plans for future collaborations, it is great to be aware of all the opportunities in the future”.

This networking initiative will continue its efforts to build relations between early career researchers within and across disciplines and foster research collaborations in pursuit of more sustainable food futures. Upcoming events will be organised with the participants in 2024 and beyond.