Samara Brock

Study program:
Environmental Studies
Current affiliation:
Yale University

Samara Brock (environmental studies, Yale University) is looking at Canada’s role in assessing and addressing the domestic and international impact of mining activities on agriculture and food security.

Doctoral research

Mining, Trans-National Governance, and the Right to Food: Canada’s Role in a Changing Landscape

Since the 2008 “food crisis” a number of organizations have emerged with the agenda of envisioning the future of the global food system. Organizations such as the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, The EAT Foundation, and the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems have similar agendas of creating a sustainable food system, but with very different approaches to achieving this goal. My research investigates the co-production of expert knowledge in these organizations attempting to influence the trajectory of what is widely labeled “the global food system.” It investigates how various groups and networks generate their claims to expertise in advocating for their preferred future. Most importantly, this research investigates how they come to understand this system itself. Is this food system—as advocates for food security may argue—something that humans can observe, calculate, and manage through creating accurate global aggregates of inputs, yields, and emissions? Or is it—as advocates for food sovereignty may argue—a localized and intimate collection of people, plants, animals, soil, and others that must be defended against globalized processes? Is agriculture an assault against nature, as advocates of the land sparing hypothesis may argue, which requires that we maximize agricultural output on as little land as possible? Or is agriculture of nature as much as it is of humanity, as advocates of a land-sharing hypothesis may argue, seeing agriculture's role in contributing to biodiversity and ecosystem function? Understanding how knowledge about future food systems is generated is key to food and agriculture policy and land use decisions. This research will pull from extensive fieldwork with key organizations, analysis of reports, media releases, etc., and a network analysis illustrating whom each network engages and attempts to influence.

Samara Brock is pursuing her PhD at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. She holds a master’s degree in environmental management from Yale, a master’s in community and regional planning from the University of British Columbia, and a master’s in food culture from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. Samara is a
broadly published author whose work has appeared in academic and popular journals on such topics as multiculturalism, innovations in urban planning, and the global governance of food systems. Samara also has a diverse professional background. She has worked internationally with support from the Canadian International Development Agency on urban agriculture projects in Cuba and Argentina. She also worked as a food systems planner for the City of Vancouver, and more recently as a program officer for the Tides Canada Foundation, funding nonprofit organizations working on complex conservation, climate change, and food security initiatives.