Pardee Center Sponsors Panel at Food and the City Conference


The Director and two Faculty Fellows of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future participated in the closing panel of the Food and the City Conference at Boston University on Saturday, February 25.

Titled “Food and the City: Issues on the Horizon,” the panel was chaired by Pardee Center Director Jim McCann, BU Professor of History and an expert on the history of food, ecology, and agriculture of Africa. Other panelists included Pardee Faculty Fellows Prof. Sarah Phillip (History) and Paul McManus (School of Management) along with Prof. Nathan Phillips (Geography and Environment).

In her remarks, Sarah Phillips referenced the 1906 novel The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which tells the story of a Lithuian immigrant working in a meat packing house in Chicago. Tying themes explored in the well-known novel to remarks made in the conference keynote address, she noted that two important questions remain unanswered related to “Food and the City”: first, what kind of food system can provide the nourishment that individuals need and do so in a sustainable and ethical way? And second, what food system can provision cities of the future?

Nathan Phillips discussed his work on the Urban Metabolism project, which is looking at the inflows and outflows of the city of Boston, in part by monitoring the carbon dioxide levels through a meter on the roof of the College of Arts and Sciences. A large-scale, multi-year project funded by the National Science Foundation, the project will consider food production systems as part of the overall effort.

Paul McManus spoke about the Sustainable Neighborhood Lab, a project involving an interdisciplinary team from Boston University working with local government officials, citizens, and businesses to address problems in neighborhoods within the city of Boston. The goal of the project is to connect Boston University directly to the city in which it resides, and to create knowledge, new systems for improvement, and measures for progress through engagement with civil society.

The closing session came after two days of presentations at the BU Photonics Center on topics ranging from the urban and suburban markets of Paris to street vendors in New York City and the culture of coffee houses in Europe.

The Food and the City conference was sponsored by the Boston University History Department. Co-sponsors included the Pardee Center and the BU Gastronomy Program. More details are available at the conference web site.