Archive for the ‘Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Category

Rebuilding the American Food System: One Heirloom Tomato at A Time

October 3, 2011 Comments off

Rebuilding the American Food System: One Heirloom Tomato at A Time (PDF)
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The food system of the United States is currently witnessing a remarkable shift. Small farms and artisanal producers are on the rise, working with restaurants, institutional food services, and retail outlets to make locally-sourced, sustainably-grown food more widely available. Health- and environment-conscious consumers — “the locavores” — are placing new demands on the food system in ways that are affecting the nation’s economy as well as its eating habits (see the “infographic” opposite). On March 4, 2011, United States Studies at the Wilson Center, with the support of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, convened practitioners, scholars, farmers, producers, and food activists to discuss both the scope of this phenomenon and the challenges faced by those seeking to transform the way Americans eat.

One of the greatest challenges, according to Fred Kirschenmann, a noted expert on sustainable agriculture, is moving from industrial to “agrarian” agriculture. As Kirschenmann explained, the food systems of the United States and other developed countries depend on “stored, concentrated energy” that is being rapidly depleted. To feed future populations, the entire food system must be redesigned.

The best way to do this, according to Kate Clancy, another leading expert on sustainable food systems, is to pay attention to scale. “A properly managed system,” she said, “should self-organize on a scale that respects ecological limits and optimizes both economic and social efficiency.” Solutions to complex problems must come from across scales in the system. This requires local efforts to interact with the scales both above and below. Kirschenmann and Clancy both expand on their views in the papers that follow in this report.

India’s Contemporary Security Challenges

October 2, 2011 Comments off

India’s Contemporary Security Challenges (PDF)
Source: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

India is the world’s largest democracy, and one of its fastest-growing economies. The country is celebrated for its educated professional class, its urban-based prosperity, and its Bollywood-fueled cultural influence abroad. Commentators wax effusive about its extraordinary “growth story” and rising global clout. A 2010 joint study by the U.S. National Intelligence Council and the European Union declared it the world’s third-most powerful nation.

India, to borrow a government slogan first coined in 2003, is indeed “shining.” This cheery narrative, however, masks a parallel reality about India. While parts of the country bask in the glow of new-found affluence, others continue to toil in the gloom of abject poverty. This other side of India is also riven by violence and unrest, which increasingly targets the government. Meanwhile, even as India takes on the trappings of a global power, it remains deeply concerned about security developments beyond its borders. Lurking beneath India’s recent triumphs are internal and external security challenges that may well intensify in the years ahead.


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