Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara



"Linking knowledge with action for food system sustainability:
strategies and initiatives of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis"

Thomas P. ("Tom") Tomich
Founding Director
Agricultural Sustainability Institute, UC Davis
UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP).

Monday, April 21, 2014
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"As an accomplished economist and policy advisor, Dr. Tomich brings a richly interdisciplinary perspective to global agricultural sustainability. Anyone interested in agriculture's impacts on the environment and how they can be mitigated should not miss this talk." — Jacob Skaggs, student host

The food system is one of many lenses through which one usefully can view the practical challenges of sustainable development, specifically how to enable our growing human population to feed itself. The social footprint of the food system is indisputable: food is fundamental for human well-being, economic prosperity, social stability, and cultural interaction. Advances in remote sensing and other data sources also have established beyond doubt that the food system has a huge and growing environmental footprint. Major roles in land-cover change and biodiversity, climate forcing, energy, and freshwater, nitrogen and phosphorous cycles, to name a few, place the food system in the center of debates about potential impacts on planetary boundaries and vulnerabilities as boundaries are exceeded. The search for sustainable solutions to address food-system challenges is knowledge intensive. Creation of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute and the launch of the new Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major at UC Davis will be discussed as case studies of efforts to improve links between knowledge generation and action for a more sustainable food system.

Tom Tomich’s research spans agriculture and farming systems, economic development, food policy, and natural resource management, and has yielded numerous publications, including Transforming Agrarian Economies: Opportunities Seized, Opportunities Missed (1995); Environmental Services and Land Use Change: Bridging the Gap between Policy and Research in Southeast Asia; and Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing: A Manual for Assessment Practitioners. He has worked in a dozen countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, spending significant periods of time in Egypt, Indonesia, and Kenya. He worked for the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) from 1994-2006, serving as principal economist and global coordinator of the award-winning ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins program. Before that, he spent ten years as a policy advisor and institute associate with the Harvard Institute for International Development and also served as a lecturer in both economics and public policy at Harvard University. Professor Tomich was raised on a small family farm that grew nearly one hundred varieties of tree fruit in the Sacramento Valley. He received his bachelor’s in economics from the UC Davis in 1979 and his PhD in agricultural economics from Stanford in 1984.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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