Food and nutrition policy: A biological anthropologist's experiences from an academic platform

Authors


Abstract

Objectives

Biological anthropologists within academia and in other sectors are increasingly engaged in a variety of problem-oriented research and in the design, implementation, or evaluation of policies and programs, domestically and abroad. Such work can have distinctive requirements in terms of disciplinary background, professional orientation, and professional development. This article explores these issues through the author's autobiographical account of a career in food and nutrition policy from within an academic nutrition department.

Methods

The article is guided by an analytical framework that compares eight projects in terms of their mode of knowledge production, academic impact, public impacts, and personal rewards. The projects range from village-based surveys in Samoa and Malawi to food security planning in upstate New York communities, US policies on genetically engineered (GE) foods, and participant–observer research on nutrition policy development in low-income countries.

Results and Conclusions

The cumulative experience reveals the importance of a commitment to problem-solving, a transdisciplinary orientation, intellectual and methodological dexterity, ongoing engagement with policy actors and openness to emergent research questions, new research settings, and nontraditional funding sources. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 27:16–26, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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