I've just finished my first PhD intensive week, and here's my introductory paragraph for my final project in Research Design. It answers the questions, "Why this, now? And how?". Your thoughts are welcome!
Communities are complex systems, and their ability to “bounce back” in response to traumatic change(particularly long-term, chaotic, climate-driven events) is largely a function of quality and strength of connections that exist within those communities. At multiple scales, it is the relationships – of people to each other, people to the land, land to its economy, economy to its people – that determine a community's capacity to adapt and endure. Food systems are one of the best examples of how participatory education can create more resilient communities. These are places where everyone is nourished, including the land, and where everyone has knowledge and skills to contribute and teach to others. When framed as “living laboratories,” food systems provide the ideal grounds for action research, in which both the researcher and participants are collaborators and change agents together. Developing knowledge and skills around community-based food systems through participatory education can address communities' needs for food security, ecological health, and a thriving, socially just economy. These basic needs are increasingly threatened by climate change, an unstable fossil fuel-driven economy, political inertia, and ignorance about the problems and potential solutions. It is this final barrier, a lack of education and awareness about communities' own power to transform from within, that this research hopes to address.