Sit down at this year's Roundtable

By Bill Moseley & Paul Overvoorde

The world yearns for simple solu­tions to big problems. “How to feed the world sustainably” is the type of monu­mental conundrum that attracts quick di­agnoses and urgent calls for seemingly obvious action. This also happens to be the central question of this year’s inter­national roundtable, the 19th iteration of an annual event that calls our community (students, faculty, staff and neighbors) together to think hard about a serious, pressing question. In recognizing that the cursory analyses and easy fixes rarely work, we’ve created a space in our busy lives to collectively study contrasting views on this topic, share our perspec­tives, and then (in a new twist) begin to formulate what thoughtful action might actually look like. This process, how­ever, will only be meaningful if you commit to participate. A committee of 16 students, faculty and staff has spent the last nine months preparing an international roundtable with the goal of actively engaging the Macalester community. We sought to retain what was positive about past versions of this signature college event such as an emphasis on cultivating re­spectful dialogue between those with contrasting perspectives. But we also thought creatively about how to involve a greater segment of the college and the surrounding community in this forum. For us, broad participation became a central focus. Furthermore, we wanted participation to move beyond educating ourselves about the issue and engage in the challenging task of crafting recom­mendations for thoughtful actions that might flow from a nuanced understand­ing of the global food puzzle. On Thursday, Oct. 11, we will hear from five wonderful speakers in John B. Davis Lecture Hall, while the artist Tatt­foo Tan works all day with Macalester students and faculty to create mobile gardens for installation. Three renowned academics (Raj Patel, Ivette Perfecto and Joshua Muldavin) will draw a picture for us of the global food system and high­light some of its imperfections. Two local leaders in the global agribusiness community (Steven Peterson and Jennifer Shaw) will then comment on these talks. Dean of the Institute for Global Citizen­ship Christy Hanson will then moderate a roundtable discussion that involves all five speakers. The day will end with a freewheeling tapas style reception in Kagin Hall that is open to all students, faculty, staff, and the public. We hope you will join this carnival style atmo­sphere to engage with the speakers, each other, and the community. Over a dozen organizations whose work addresses a range of local and international food and agriculture issues will host tables in the hall during the reception. Friday, Oct. 12, will start with a se­ries of ten student and faculty organized workshops that will consider a range of subthemes related to the broad topic of food and agriculture. After a noon hour talk by the artist Tattfoo Tan, the three invited academic speakers will visit six different classes or departments on campus to engage with smaller groups of students and faculty. Please see a detailed schedule for the roundtable at­rums/roundtable/. The International Roundtable con­cludes on Friday afternoon with what we think is arguably the most important event: a summation gathering where stu­dent leaders present a draft ‘call to ac­tion’ to the community. Over twenty students, led by Sarah O’Connor ’13 and James Lindgren ’15, have pledged deep involvement in this year’s round­table. They will meet before and during the roundtable, be active listeners dur­ing the two days of conversation, and draft a set of recommendations that will form the basis of discussion at the clos­ing event. In order for this group to craft meaningful recommendations, however, they need to hear from you. This might be through questions or comments at the events, emails, or through social media posts. Thoughtful action requires that we all be engaged in this critical conversa­tion. Bill Moseley is a professor of geography and Paul Overvoorde is an associate pro­fessor of biology. They are co-chairs of the organizing committee for this year’s International Roundtable. refresh –>