Chatham University

Bridging the Past, Cultivating the Future: Exploring Sustainable Foodscapes

AFHVS/ASFS Annual Meeting and Conference
June 24 - 28, 2015

Chatham University is pleased to host the Joint 2015 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society. Emphasizing a holistic intellectual and material landscape, this year's theme emphasizes the need to plan forward by looking backwards, by imagining and creating spaces where agricultural and culinary practices mesh with opportunities for environmental, social, cultural, and material sustenance. Taking our cue from Pittsburgh's history and character, symbolized by its many bridges, the conference theme encourages a focus on the processes that help us explore across divisions, whether they shaped by disciplines, theories, methods, or activist priorities, material needs, cultural and agricultural histories, historical or modernist narratives. We invite participants to explore the ways in which people have or have not created social and ecological landscapes, and what can be learned historically, globally, and locally about our capacity to create and maintain viable social, economic, and cultural food landscapes.

About Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is a former industrial powerhouse, full of ethnic enclaves and urban renewal, home to multiple world-class universities, and consistently voted one of the greenest cities in America. Defined by its three rivers as well as steel and coal, all of which created a material imprint on the region, visibly marking people, place, and culture, even today as natural gas extraction, high tech, and the medical industry establish economic dominance. Pittsburgh's cultural history includes Andy Warhol, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, the Hill District of August Wilson fame, and unmatched sports loyalties. There is a rich food landscape, including the Heinz manufacturing plants, African American food entrepreneurship, and pierogi races at major league baseball games. The agricultural landscape of Southwestern Pennsylvania is a mix of sensibilities from Appalachia, the Midwest, and Amish settlements, with dairy farms, soy, and corn mixing comfortably with three decades worth of sustainable agricultural advocacy and support. This is a city that embraces farm-to-table alongside sandwiches stuffed with French fries, commodity agriculture and small farm management.


Chatham University's Falk School of Sustainability & Environment and its Food Studies Program are engaged in cross-disciplinary academic programs that emphasize economic, social, environmental and cultural knowledge. We approach sustainability from a systems perspective, creating a critical link between academic skills and research and the practical necessities of sustainable communities. With a 388-acre sustainable campus in the suburban fringe, and two urban campuses, Chatham lives its mission to enhance local and global solutions to contemporary environmental and social issues. The Food Studies program takes a holistic approach to food systems, from agriculture and food production to cuisines and consumption, providing intellectual and practical experience from field to table. We explore the global and the local in economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainable food and agriculture. The conference participants will experience the urban community-based food systems, a farm-to-table banquet and hands-on workshops at our sustainable-from-the-ground-up campus. Sessions will include conversations and presentations by our partners in food justice, sustainable business, education, and the environment.


The Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society was formed in 1987 and promotes interdisciplinary research and scholarship on the values, visions, and structures underlying contemporary food systems, nationally and internationally. Through conferences and its journal, Agriculture and Human Values, it explores alternative visions of more democratic and decentralized food systems that sustain local and regional communities, cultures, and habitats.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), an organization dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary approaches to food, society, and culture. Its journal, Food Culture and Society, has received awards for design and content. The conference will include a sponsored reception to celebrate the many years of its existence.

Both AFHVS and ASFS also offer a variety of academic prizes for student papers, books, teaching, and service. Please see links on the association websites for more information.