Sustainable futures in sugar production and consumption: a food justice approach

Lead Supervisor: Prof Barry Gibson, School of Clinical Dentistry
Co-supervisor(s): Prof Peter A. Jackson, School of Geography; Prof Rahul Naidu, School of Dentistry, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago

Deadline: Monday 26th March 2018

Project Description
This project will explore how the sustainability of sugar production and consumption can be developed. The approach that will be used to achieve this will be informed by the underlying theory of food justice. The project will place the most vulnerable people involved in the food chain at the heart of debates about sugar. The goal of the studentship will be to describe, in the words of those most affected by global food policy, how those policies have had a direct impact on them. We will also seek to articulate how a more sustainable and just “sugar food complex” might be established. This project will involve developing a partnership with NGO’s representing groups producing sugar in the Caribbean and the subsequent collection of narrative data. We will explore how global polices have impacted on local farmers and what responses they have developed to the challenge of global production.

There are few global commodities that encapsulate the dilemmas of sustainability and social justice more than sugar. Sugar demonstrates how a simple agricultural product can undertake a ‘non-synchronous journey’ from luxury good to everyday necessity (Mintz 1985).

This project will address the sustainability of Caribbean sugar production following recent changes to the EU sugar regime which affected the market price of sugar, with devastating effects on many producer countries.  The unsustainability of sugar consumption has also resulted in a plethora of, sometimes conflicting, policy responses including the deregulation (leading to the collapse of world sugar prices) and the proposed introduction of a sugar tax (designed to reduce sugar consumption).

Focusing on connections between the Caribbean and the UK, the Grantham Scholar will explore the impact of a globalizing sugar economy on producers and consumers, asking the following research questions:

1) how did recent changes in the global price of sugar impact on vulnerable Caribbean producers?

2) how has sugar consumption been affected by these changing socio-economic circumstances in the UK and the Caribbean including its effects on public health?

3) how can policies be developed to deal with the unsustainability of sugar production and consumption?

Adopting a food justice approach, this project will place the most vulnerable people involved in the supply chain at the heart of current debates about sugar. Through interviews with sugar producers, stakeholder groups and consumer organizations, the Scholar will articulate how a more sustainable, just and healthy ‘sugar food complex’ might be established.

Funding notes
This four-year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year.  Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,336.  Applications should be received and complete by Monday 26th March 2018.

What to include in the application

Your application for this studentship should be accompanied by a CV and a 200 word supporting statement. Your statement should outline your aspirations and motivation for studying in the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. You should also outline any relevant experience and interests that you have in sustainability issues.

Please select ‘Standard PhD’ and the department of this project’s lead supervisor. Fill in the title of your desired project and the name(s) of the supervisors. The starting date of the PhD will be the start of the next academic year – 1 Oct 2018. The ‘Funding stage’ on the form will be ‘project studentship’.