Research Topic

Transdisciplinary Research for Understanding and Transforming Food Systems

About this Research Topic

Food systems are currently facing tremendous challenges and changes globally. On the one hand, population growth, urbanization, and increased affluence are expected to catalyze dietary shifts and broader changes to food systems in the coming decades. On the other hand, food systems (and changes therein) have major environmental and social ramifications. As a result, fostering the sustainable transformation of food systems is seen as one of the major challenges for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, understanding food systems, and transforming them in a sustainable manner is far from straightforward, especially as our food systems have multiple intersecting economic, social, technological, and cultural dimensions. Moreover, food systems encompass different stakeholders operating at different levels with enormously different interests and worldviews.

The goal of this Research Topic is to offer a forum to gather and critically synthesize new insights on how transdisciplinary research approaches and processes can be mobilized to understand better and transform effectively and inclusively food systems. By definition, transdisciplinary research integrates insights from different academic disciplines and non-academic stakeholders in processes of knowledge production. The starting point of this Research Topic is that food systems are multi-dimensional and hence any effort to understand them would require not only insights from different academic disciplines, but also input from stakeholders beyond academia that have intimate knowledge and different experiences of processes in food systems. At the same time, the transformation of food systems is typically considered to be a “wicked problem”, without any possible simple and definitive solution. Transdisciplinary research approaches are often viewed as promising avenues to inform decision-making in the context of such problems. In this sense, the transdisciplinary integration of multiple - and often contradictory - approaches, knowledge systems, and worldviews is challenging, but also a unique opportunity to understand and transform food systems.

This Research Topic will be coordinated in conjunction with a special session at the next Cross-Sector Social Interactions (CSSI) Symposium on “Partnering for Resilience and Transformation”, planned to take place at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, 22-24 June 2022. Papers contained in the special issue are welcome to participate also in the panel. More information can be found here: https://www.wur.nl/en/Research-Results/Chair-groups/Social-Sciences/CSSI-Partnerships-Conference-2022.htm

For this Research Topic, we welcome the submission of papers that explore how transdisciplinary approaches can be mobilized effectively to understand and transform food systems in different global contexts. In particular, we welcome conceptual, methodological, and empirical studies that develop, employ and/or refine transdisciplinary research approaches to explore one or more of the following non-exhaustive list of questions:
a) how to engage meaningfully and integrate inclusively the viewpoints of academics and societal stakeholders in the context of food systems?
b) what mechanisms and processes can increase the inclusivity and effectiveness of transdisciplinary processes to understand and transform food systems?
c) how to translate effectively the outcomes of transdisciplinary processes into actionable responses to transform food systems?
d) what is the performance and potential of different tools, methods, and models to enhance the inclusivity and effectiveness of transdisciplinary processes in the context of food systems?

We are keen to include experiences, insights, and good practices of transdisciplinary processes from different geographical, cultural, and societal contexts, and levels of economic development and urbanization. Equally, we are particularly welcome to empirical studies that demonstrate clearly how methods and tools can engage a diversity of stakeholders in a transformative manner, including multiple approaches such as (but not restricted to) scenario exploration, innovation platforms, and transformation labs, among others.


Keywords: Transdisciplinary Research, Transforming Food Systems, Dietary Change, Food Production, Food System


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Food systems are currently facing tremendous challenges and changes globally. On the one hand, population growth, urbanization, and increased affluence are expected to catalyze dietary shifts and broader changes to food systems in the coming decades. On the other hand, food systems (and changes therein) have major environmental and social ramifications. As a result, fostering the sustainable transformation of food systems is seen as one of the major challenges for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, understanding food systems, and transforming them in a sustainable manner is far from straightforward, especially as our food systems have multiple intersecting economic, social, technological, and cultural dimensions. Moreover, food systems encompass different stakeholders operating at different levels with enormously different interests and worldviews.

The goal of this Research Topic is to offer a forum to gather and critically synthesize new insights on how transdisciplinary research approaches and processes can be mobilized to understand better and transform effectively and inclusively food systems. By definition, transdisciplinary research integrates insights from different academic disciplines and non-academic stakeholders in processes of knowledge production. The starting point of this Research Topic is that food systems are multi-dimensional and hence any effort to understand them would require not only insights from different academic disciplines, but also input from stakeholders beyond academia that have intimate knowledge and different experiences of processes in food systems. At the same time, the transformation of food systems is typically considered to be a “wicked problem”, without any possible simple and definitive solution. Transdisciplinary research approaches are often viewed as promising avenues to inform decision-making in the context of such problems. In this sense, the transdisciplinary integration of multiple - and often contradictory - approaches, knowledge systems, and worldviews is challenging, but also a unique opportunity to understand and transform food systems.

This Research Topic will be coordinated in conjunction with a special session at the next Cross-Sector Social Interactions (CSSI) Symposium on “Partnering for Resilience and Transformation”, planned to take place at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, 22-24 June 2022. Papers contained in the special issue are welcome to participate also in the panel. More information can be found here: https://www.wur.nl/en/Research-Results/Chair-groups/Social-Sciences/CSSI-Partnerships-Conference-2022.htm

For this Research Topic, we welcome the submission of papers that explore how transdisciplinary approaches can be mobilized effectively to understand and transform food systems in different global contexts. In particular, we welcome conceptual, methodological, and empirical studies that develop, employ and/or refine transdisciplinary research approaches to explore one or more of the following non-exhaustive list of questions:
a) how to engage meaningfully and integrate inclusively the viewpoints of academics and societal stakeholders in the context of food systems?
b) what mechanisms and processes can increase the inclusivity and effectiveness of transdisciplinary processes to understand and transform food systems?
c) how to translate effectively the outcomes of transdisciplinary processes into actionable responses to transform food systems?
d) what is the performance and potential of different tools, methods, and models to enhance the inclusivity and effectiveness of transdisciplinary processes in the context of food systems?

We are keen to include experiences, insights, and good practices of transdisciplinary processes from different geographical, cultural, and societal contexts, and levels of economic development and urbanization. Equally, we are particularly welcome to empirical studies that demonstrate clearly how methods and tools can engage a diversity of stakeholders in a transformative manner, including multiple approaches such as (but not restricted to) scenario exploration, innovation platforms, and transformation labs, among others.


Keywords: Transdisciplinary Research, Transforming Food Systems, Dietary Change, Food Production, Food System


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

16 August 2021 Abstract
14 December 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 August 2021 Abstract
14 December 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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