The Emerging Food and Agriculture Ecosystem at MIT

There’s an increasing focus on issues from nutrition to deforestation to GMOs to food waste, and it’s hard to miss the voices from many different perspectives. Despite being a land grant school, MIT has not had a strong voice in the mix recently. But, the MIT community is tackling the complex systemic problems facing local and global agriculture systems. 

And we at MIT FAC have been hard at work to bring together students – and other MIT community members – to coordinate and support work across food and agriculture. Beyond advocating for and supporting the development of a more sustainable food system on the MIT campus, the FAC also works to enhance MIT’s role in contributing to global agricultural sustainability. To do this, we host monthly events, including guest speakers, off-campus tours, movie screenings, and community happy hours.

And we’re not alone! There are tons of groups who, together, seek to increase the MIT community's awareness of, and participation in, food and agriculture related events, incorporate food and agricultural sustainability into programming and coursework, and promote collaboration between MIT students, faculty, and food and agriculture industry practitioners.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Below are some of the groups and events at MIT that we’re especially excited about. Take look and let us know what we’re missing.

The MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) was created to coordinate and promote water and food research at MIT, emphasizing the deployment of effective technologies, programs, and policies that will have a measurable and international impact as humankind adapts to a rapidly expanding and evolving population on a changing planet. J-WAFS works towards environmentally benign, scalable solutions for water and food systems across a range of regional, social, and economic contexts by incubating technologies and fostering innovative regional collaborations.

The MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize, launched in Fall 2015, is an entrepreneurship competition to support early stage food and agribusiness ideas. The prize is run by the Food and Agriculture club, and sponsored by Rabobank and MIT J-WAFS.  Finalists will compete for $25,000 in prize money at the final event on April 28th.

The Food+Future coLab is a partnership between IDEO, Target, and the MIT Media Lab. The goal of this collaboration is to create new ventures that push the edges of technology, business, and design to bring about global change within the food system.

The Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan works to create and spread innovative management practices, business models, and supporting market infrastructures that make effective, sustainable use of natural and human resources and advance human welfare. Through their Food Systems Sustainability program, the Initiative works to ensure food and agriculture are represented in conversations, programming, research, and coursework on sustainability.

With all the growing excitement and action around food and agriculture that’s been increasing rapidly at MIT, there are numerous courses, labs, student groups we want to highlight:

·      Research

·      Events and Courses

·      Prizes and Fellowships

  • Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship
  • Lemelson Prize “Eat It” track for technology-based inventions that can improve food and agriculture.

We’d love to hear from you about what the emerging food and agriculture ecosystem at MIT needs, or how we can better support its development. And if you want to learn more, be sure sign up for our newsletter. MIT FAC is thrilled to be part of food and agriculture work at MIT- we hope you’ll join us. 

Posted: March 26, 2016
Author: Sarah Nolet