Urban agriculture

A potential tool for local and global food security; economic, social and environmental resilience; community health; and a healthy lifestyle

Urban agriculture defined as cultivation and consumption of food in the space of a city and its surroundings has an obvious potential for the improvement of both individual and community health, increasing local and global food security, enhancing the economy of a city, mitigation of human activity impact on the environment, and strengthening a sense of community and identity. However, there is not enough quantitative evidence or qualitative case studies which would support these statements. There are studies on a high proportion of urban agriculture production in the cities of both the Global North and South (Dar es Salaam, Shanghai, Peking, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee…) which are more than positive; nevertheless, assumptions about the benefits of urban agriculture need stronger scientific support.

The thesis would thus focus on the analysis and mapping of urban agriculture’s benefits across different organisational forms (grassroots organisations, community gardens, NGOs) from the point of view of the most effective interconnection of urban food production and place of consumption. It can focus on the urban or peri-urban dynamics. The goal is to gather empirical evidence concerning the emergence of multifunctional landscapes in urban and peri-urban areas and to interpret their dynamics as regards their contribution to sustainable development or strategic food reserves in metropolitan areas. The impact in three main areas in particular should be assessed: the social sphere (access to food, social cohesion, participation, health, lifestyle); ecological (emission reduction, biodiversity, waste management and recycling, etc.), and economic (number of jobs, innovation, place formation, public procurement…).

The thesis could be elaborated according to an applicant’s specialisation and former education in (at least) two directions:

  1. A more qualitative one—which initiatives emerge in the sphere of urban agriculture and what is their impact? How successful are they at scaling-up? How can they be connected or reinforced through urban food policies?
  2. A more quantitative one—what is the role of modern urban agriculture during the peak land era? What is its role in local or global food security? What are the quantifiable benefits of urban agriculture (emission reduction, biodiversity increase, food miles decrease)? How does urban agriculture contribute to economic development and social cohesion in a city? What types of projects are relevant to tackle the societal and community problems?
  • Type: General
  • Supervisor: Jana Šiftová
  • Programme: Social Geography and Regional Development
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Start date: October 1, 2020
  • Application deadline: 30th April 2020 (consulting with the tutor in advance is strongly recommended)
  • Funding: Scholarship 10 500 CZK per month (+ additional 2.000 CZK once the doctoral examination is successfully passed)