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Building Sustainable Food Systems in a Single Bottom-Line Context: Lessons from SEED Wayne, Wayne State University

Kameshwari Pothukuchi


This paper discusses a four-year effort, embodied in an initiative called SEED Wayne, to implement a university-community sustainable food system collaboration involving multiple activities in campus and neighborhood settings, which also coincided with moves to institutionalize elements of the program as part of the university's core functions of education, research, engagement, and operations. The paper documents the many ways in which activities have indeed successfully integrated across the university's functions and discusses factors accounting for this integration. However, attempts to institutionalize the farmers' market as a university operation have encountered barriers heightened by an increasing focus on the single economic bottom line brought on by public funding cutbacks, which exacerbates the cleavage between functions considered academic — teaching and research — and those related to engagement and operations. The university's vast bureaucracy also challenges innovative approaches to an integrative sustainability agenda. The paper discusses the implications of these challenges and offers recommendations to others wishing to embark on a similar initiative.


SEED Wayne; Sustainable Food Systems; University-Community Partnerships; University Sustainability Programs

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