FVSU students participate in food sustainability symposium

April 2, 2015 – Fort Valley State University professors and student scholars took center stage at a prominent research conference that examines the impact of race, class and socioeconomic issues in our global society.Director of the FVSU Undergraduate Research Center Dr. Andrew Lee, associate professor of Food Science Dr. Linda Johnson, professor of art Ricky Calloway, research assistant Brajesh Vaidya, and 17 students attended the 12th annual Walter Rodney Symposium on March 20 and 21, at the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library. Lee, Johnson and Vaidya served as panelists at this year’s conference, whose theme was “Hungry Nation, Hungry World: Engendering Healthy Sustainable Food Systems.”

“Fort Valley State University served as one of the co-sponsors for the Walter Rodney Symposium. I am especially pleased, due to the vision of Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, our 9th president, we were able to help 17 of our humanities students demystify the research process. We, too, are delighted that the FVSU Foundation, under the auspices of the Dreamers’ FEE, which is underwritten by Blue Bird and other corporate sponsors to support the Honors and Undergraduate Research Initiatives, made this research-based excursion possible for these much deserving humanities students.”

The conference is named after Walter Anthony Rodney, a Guyanese scholar that was one of the leading authorities on the transatlantic slave trade from Africa to the Americas. His best-known work is “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” one of the first major historical studies of Africa’s development.

In addition to being an author and historian, Rodney was a political activist that encouraged individuals to break barriers of race and class, and unite to fight issues facing the working class. The scholar was also committed to the liberation of Africa, and examined the history of the continent’s agriculture and the sustainability and reliability of its food systems. Rodney’s activism led to his assassination on June 13, 1980, when he was 38 years old.

The goal of this year’s symposium was to examine socio-economic and political frameworks, and discover solutions that would provide adequate, nutritious, safe and culturally appropriate foods to different cultures around the world.

On the first day of the conference, FVSU professors Lee and Johnson participated on the “From Land Use and Climate Justice Struggles to Engagement of Contemporary Food and Environmental Justice Issues.” Lee presented a paper called, “My Photographs Bear Witness:’ Visual Arguments for the Eradication of World Hunger.”  Johnson presented an article entitled “An Agenda for Change: Sustainable Food Systems and Food Policy.”

FVSU Humanities students Olivia Foster, Taylor Head and Christopher Kelley also presented a public service announcement at the event named “A Millennium to End Hunger: The Time is Now.”

Vaidya participated on the student panel entitled “Research on Decolonizing Food, Farming and Family.” The student presented a paper on “The Role of Medicinal Plants and Multipurpose Trees in the Health Care and Rural Economy.”

For details, contact Dr. Lee at (478)825-6708.