Skip to navigation Skip to content

Hutton Seminar Series: Cultivating a sustainable and resilient food future

Important information for event attendees and external visitors

coronavirus (COVID-19)In light of the ongoing government restrictions and advice to mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission, our events have been rescheduled or moved to online delivery.

Our sites remain on a restricted access condition, and only staff who are doing essential site-specific work or tasks are on site. All other colleagues continue to work from home for the time being.

We have excellent and free to use video conference and conference call systems and are happy to make these facilities available to help you engage with us. Meetings are taking place via video conference with participants joining individually from their own locations; check with the relevant member of staff for advice.

As the situation continues to evolve, please check the UK Government and NHS websites for the latest advice and updates. If you have any questions or concerns, please email

Hutton Seminars
16 May 2017, 11am
at James Hutton Institute, New Seminar Room (Dundee) and Macaulay B (Aberdeen)
for scientists, students, researchers and anyone interested
Hutton Seminar Series 2017 badge

A growing awareness of the costs of industrial food in the latter half of the 20th century drove a search for solutions that emerged as the sustainable agriculture movement. Over this same time period, global movements of food accelerated in an increasingly specialized and concentrated global industrial food system. Current national and international policy clearly favours the continued consolidation and concentration of this system, despite widely accepted evidence that these characteristics create critical sustainability challenges, as well as new evidence that this specialization and consolidation creates barriers to the resilience of the global food system. This maladaptive path is doubly destructive; not only does it finance the continued development of the existing system, it also squanders the resources needed to finance a transition to a more sustainable global food system.

Resilience science offers a novel framework and a set of concepts uniquely suited to the challenges of managing food systems under conditions of high uncertainty and dynamic change. Although research exploring food system resilience is only just beginning, initial results suggest that, compared to industrial food systems, sustainable food systems are more resilient while providing a host of other natural resources, social, and financial benefits to the communities they serve. By drawing on thirty years of sustainable food systems development and recent insights from resilience science, a sustainable and resilient food future is possible through policies designed to transform the global industrial food system into a resilient global network of sustainable food systems serving local and regional populations.

Laura Lengnick is an award-winning soil scientist who has explored agricultural sustainability for more than 30 years as a researcher, policy-maker, educator, and farmer. Her work in sustainable farming systems was nationally-recognised with a USDA Secretary’s Honor Award and she contributed to the 3rd National Climate Assessment as a lead author of the USDA report Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation. Laura led the academic program in sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson College for more than a decade, where she also served as the Director of Sustainability Education, conducted research in sustainability assessment and holistic management, led energy descent action planning, and developed an innovative sustainable dining policy for the college. In 2015, Laura left the college to launch Cultivating Resilience, LLC, a private consulting firm offering ecosystem-based climate risk management services to civil society, business, and government. She is a Vice President at Climate Optimize, Inc, and serves as an advisor to the USDA Climate Science Learning Network, NC Adapt, and the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance. Laura holds an adjunct faculty position in Horticulture at North Carolina State University. Her 2015 award-winning book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate (New Society Publishers), examines climate change, resilience and the future of food through the adaptation stories of 25 award-winning sustainable producers located across the U.S. You can learn more about Laura and her work at

Share our content

Share this

Printed from /events/hutton-seminar-series-cultivating-sustainable-and-resilient-food-future on 15/04/21 11:23:04 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.