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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge
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This project assembled multiple small groups of researchers representing the natural, physical, and social sciences as well as the humanities, to discuss objects relating to global food security.

Conversations were recorded and transcribed, and objects photographed to create a series of feature articles, podcasts, videos, a public photography exhibition, and an edited book.  The aim was to help academics from very different backgrounds better to understand each other, communicate across disciplinary boundaries, and gain more holistic perspectives on their research. In addition, Objects was designed to extend conversations about food security to a larger public audience and thereby contribute to public awareness and discussion of the food security challenge.

The project began in 2018, with funding secured from the Isaac Newton Trust and the European Research Council, and continued in 2019 with activities related to each object. The project was originally conceptualised by Jacqueline Garget, previous Programme Manager of Cambridge Global Food Security IRC, and Dr Inanna Hamati-Ataya, Principal Research Associate at CRASSH and Founding Director of gloknos, as a joint collaboration between the IRC and gloknos. Dr Hamati-Ataya led this project as Principal Investigator. The objects selected for 2018-19 were wheat, the potato, the cow, processed food, and the fridge-freezer. 

The project's first activity, 'Objects: Carriers of Knowledge', occurred as part of the 2019 Cambridge Science Festival, when participants held a transdiscplinary discussion about the role of wheat and potatoes in global food security. Our second event, titled 'Meat and Potatoes: Changing diets for changing times?', was held at the 2019 Cambridge Festival of Ideas in collaboration with EIT Food. This was an interdisciplinary discussion on the value and importance of specific foods and food technologies.

We published additional information about this event in an article detailing our collaborations with EIT Food. 'What's your beef?', which expands on the event, and was published by the University of Cambridge in January 2020.

More information on the Objects events and their associated activities can also be found here.

Recordings from the different discussions can be found here.       



Prof Martin Jones (Department of Archaeology) 
Dr Alison Bentley (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) 
Dr Helen Ann Curry (Department of History and Philosophy of Science)


Dr Lauren Gardiner (Department of Plant Sciences)
Dr David Firman (National Institute of Agricultural Botany)
Dr Mukesh Kumar (Institute for Manufacturing)
Dr David Nally (Department of Geography)


Dr Pablo Salas (C-EENRG)
Prof James Wood (Department of Veterinary Medicine)
Ms Lesley Steinitz (Faculty of History)
Dr Melissa Calaresu (Faculty of History)
Dr Victoria Avery (Fitzwilliam Museum)

Processed food 

Dr Jean Adams (The Centre for Diet and Activity Research)
Dr Lili Jia (Institute for Manufacturing)
Prof Marie Louise Sørensen (Department of Archaeology)


Prof Jaideep Prabhu (Judge Business School)
Prof Steve Evans (Institute for Manufacturing)
Dr Shailaja Fennell (Department of Land Economy)

Image courtesy of Laura Carnicero.





Global food security is a major research priority for UK and international science.

Cambridge Global Food Security is a virtual centre at the University of Cambridge. We promote an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the challenge of ensuring all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life. 

Please contact the Programme Manager D.ssa Francesca Re Manning to request information, share information, or join our mailing list.