Today, the complex interplay between global change and population growth with agriculture and food systems grows increasingly difficult to ignore. Global agri-food systems are challenged with delivering more food to meet the needs of current and future generations but to do it in a way that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. The solutions to meet these challenges and transform global food systems will largely depend on innovative transdisciplinary approaches aligned within a systems perspective.
The University of California’s (UCR’s) California Agriculture and Food Enterprise (CAFÉ) is a research catalyst initiative facilitating the integrative, multidisciplinary study of complex issues associated with agriculture, food and sustainability for the betterment of the health and well-being of humanity and the planet.
To attain this goal, CAFÉ acts to both open communication and break down disciplinary barriers among UCR-based faculty, researchers, staff, administrators, and students to facilitate activities that lead to the creation of solutions. Building on UCR’s strengths in food and agriculture in the broad sense, CAFÉ also works to build partnerships beyond the campus with like-minded scholars within the University of California (UC) system (e.g., UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and UC Global Food Initiative (GFI)) as well as appropriate interested government, non-government, industry, and private stakeholders.
CAFÉ has 3 goals:
1. Bridge the research to application gap
- Fueling collaborative entrepreneurial partnerships at UCR to shape ideas into Ag technologies.
- Facilitating cross-communication and connections among researcher and extension specialists on our campus and stakeholders in our community. (GrowRiverside, Riverside Food Alliance Systems etc.)
- Supporting opportunities for students and faculty to attend prominent networking events and system-wide programs (i.e. FFAR, USDA, CDFA etc.) to connect to funding agencies and other stakeholders.
2. Spearhead multi-disciplinary innovative research
- Fueling 20+ collaborative large scale food system projects and other funding requests.
- Convening interdisciplinary scholars across UCR on a quarterly basis to share Ag and food-focused research, teaching and outreach developments.
- Spearheading the UCR Microbiome Pollinator-Pollination Initiatives.
3. Stimulate the creation and improvement of knowledge-based research, teaching and outreach
- Hosted a global conference on "Wedges against Global Hunger in 2050".
- Sponsoring student led panels.
- Identifying existing educational efforts and developing an interdisciplinary Sustainable Food Systems curriculum and experiential learning.
- Co-organizing workshops and symposia with UCR Programs and beyond.