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The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), the College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci), and the College of Arts & Letters (CAL) are collaborating to advance the research profile of Michigan State University in the holistic study of food. Lead by three signature research centers, the Center for Regional Food Systems (CANR), the Health & Risk Communication Center (ComArtSci), the Center for Interdisciplinarity (CAL), this innovative partnership is advancing a vision of engaged, participatory research rooted in the deepest commitments of the land-grant mission.

Interdisciplinary Food Research Grants

Beginning with public conversations about food through the Our Table initiative, the three colleges will establish an Interdisciplinary Food Research Grant program in which we will award three to five small grants focused on food-related topics to faculty teams that include members from all three colleges. Two elements differentiate this from other food-focused research around the country. First, our holistic approach brings strengths from across three colleges in food science, food communication, and food ethics to bear on pressing public concerns about food. Second, our collaboration takes its cue from the public itself, allowing the conversations around Our Table to shape the research agenda of the faculty. Ours is a deep, structural collaboration that demonstrates a new level of strategic coordination across the liberal arts and scientific mission of the University.

For the first year, this program will be open to faculty from CANR, ComArtSci, and CAL. In years 2 and 3, we envision extending the program to other colleges, and we’ve had preliminary conversations with the College of Business and College of Nursing.

Postdoctoral Exchange in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Equity (SAFSE)

Our commitment to interdisciplinarity with respect to food research will also be advanced through a postdoc exchange program between two centers at MSU: the Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I) and the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS), and two institutes at Ohio State: the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Humanities Institute. Topic areas for this program align with the interests of OSU’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) and the Food@MSU program. This postdoctoral exchange program will award two two-year postdoctoral positions: one for an MSU individual in the humanities to work at OSU and one for an OSU individual in the social sciences to work at MSU. Seed funding and in-kind contributions for this postdoctoral program will come from CANR, CAL, and ComArtSci. Postdocs will participate in the Food@MSU project through training in science communication and requirements to create sharable content based on their postdoctoral work. The C4I will provide mentoring in interdisciplinary careers.

Collaborative Philanthropy

CANR, CCAS, and CAL are committed to developing coordinated and strategic fundraising efforts around the Food@MSU initiative. As our shared research agenda develops and is refined through ongoing engagement with the wider community, we will be well positioned to establish a coherent collaborative fundraising strategy, including specific goals related to building the research capacity for the initiative through endowed faculty positions, graduate fellowships, and endowed postdocs. We hope in this way to pilot a new model of philanthropy for the next capital campaign at MSU.