IonE resident fellow Randel Hanson, a faculty member in the Department of Geography at the University of Minnesota Duluth, is working to create institutional change around food systems. He has developed a 10-acre organic farm to grow produce for UMD dining services. The farm provides dining services with an opportunity to reintegrate minimally processed foods and move toward procuring more produce from area farmers. It also provides students with experiential learning opportunities around food and agricultural systems.
In effort to institutionalize sustainability around food, Hanson has spent a lot of time bringing together the different parts of the University to build a more collaborative, sustainable system. Hanson says, "These entities - administrative, academic, operations, etc. - have evolved rationally to do their job, but they often work irrationally in relation to one another from the viewpoint of sustainability, at cross purposes in carrying out their respective missions, and most often in ways that make each other's work less fluid." He says there remain significant challenges to move from symbolic to more substantive changes as well to institutionalize the project.