PhD Studentship From the ground up: community food production practices for well-being, sustainability and social cohesion

To celebrate the University’s research successes, the University of Hull is offering one UK/EU PhD Scholarship, or International Fees Bursary for candidates with a 1st, 2(i), or equivalent, applying for the following project

Closing date 11th January 2013.

Studentships will start in September 2013


This research will examine how community gardening and local food production are used to promote health, wellbeing, social cohesion and the move towards a more sustainable society. Turning food consumers into food producers through collective, community projects is a key way used by policy-makers and NGOs to move towards sustainability and to integrate local publics into food supply chains through practice, rather than merely through rhetoric and social marketing. But how successful have such projects been in changing practice and involving and motivating local people, especially groups who are seen as ‘hard to reach’, such as young people? And what are the consequences for those people in terms of reflecting on and changing local food cultures, their wellbeing and the sustainability of their lifestyles more generally?

The studentship will focus on local food projects such as community allotments and school gardening projects, such as Beverley Town Council’s ‘Field to Table’ project and Probe (Hull) Ltd’s ‘Food 360’ project. Such projects aim to foster a culture of involvement with food growing and healthy eating, including a particular focus on social inclusivity (e.g. to allow people with disabilities to participate) and on educating and enthusing children to connect with food production and consumption in ways that will support more sustainable living in the longer term.

These projects also resonate with the ‘turn to practice’ in social science theory and literature since the 2000s, whereby practice rather than knowledge is increasingly seen as key to how social life is shaped and also how sustainable and unsustainable patterns of living are developed and challenged. The research will therefore examine the practical experience of local people involved in community food production to particularly address the gap in the literature regarding how practices change in the move to a more sustainable future.

The research will examine how effective and inclusive community gardening and food projects are and also their potential to foster a wider transformation in local food cultures through attention to practice ‘on the ground’ in the light of theoretical debates about sustainable futures, diverse participation and community governance.

Methodologically, the research will use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to establish a sociodemographic profile of people recruited by and participating in the food projects and look in more detail (e.g. through interviews and participant observation) at how the food projects work in practice and are experienced by participants through different seasons.

To apply for this post please click ‘Apply Online’ below.

This full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship will include fees at the ‘home/EU’ student rate and maintenance (£13,590 in 2013/14, subject to final confirmation) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependant on satisfactory progress, but no living expenses.

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

Successful applicants will be informed of the award by 29th March 2013.

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