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Steffanie Scott

Associate Professor

Steffanie is President of the Canadian Association for Food Studies, and is engaged in research on sustainable food systems in China and Canada. Her work documents the emergence of the ecological agriculture sector and alternative food networks in China. She is also developing an urban food system sustainability assessment framework.

For more information, visit Steffanie Scott's personal website.

Room EV1-109 | Ext. 37012 | email
F2014 Office hours: contact professor

Key Areas of Graduate Supervision
Agro-food systems sustainability, Organic and ecological food production, Local food system assessment, rural-urban interfaces through the food system, Small producer participation in food supply chains, Environment-development interfaces, sustainable communities, greening initiatives

Recent Courses Taught
GEOG 203: Environment and Development in a Global Perspective
GEOG 426: Geographies of Development
GEOG 461: Food Systems and Sustainability
GEOG 635: International Development: Theories and Practice

Research Interests
My research since 1997 has focused on sustainable food systems, farmer livelihoods, and rural development—originally in Vietnam and, since 2009, in China, through a project researching the emergence of ecological agriculture initiatives in China. I have three doctoral students currently working on this SSHRC-funded research in China. This research examines the structures and institutions for certification of ecological and organic agriculture, and the implications for small-scale producers. We identify contradictions within the Chinese government’s commitment to ecological agriculture. As for civil-society led initiatives, the rapidly expanding ‘alternative’ food sector, including community supported agriculture (CSA) ventures and farmers' markets, reveal important future trajectories for this sector, but consumers tend to be motivated by seeking safe food, and show limited concern about environmental protection or farmer livelihoods. 

My next proposed research involves developing an urban food system assessment framework for sustainable eco-city planning, for application in China and beyond. With a team of co-researchers, we will conduct a case study application of the framework in Nanjing. Compared to their North American counterparts, Chinese cities have certain characteristics that could be advantageous in building more resilient food systems: (1) greater localization of the food system; short food supply chains; and peri-urban food production; (2) many small but vertically-integrated producers; (3) agriculture as a policy priority; and (4) resource protection measures (e.g., protection of agricultural land). The proposed research will offer new insights on the potential for North American cities to learn from and adapt experiences from China regarding localized food systems that incorporate small-scale actors and ecological production practices.
Parallel to my research in East Asia, I have been involved in Ontario-based research on food system sustainability and networks in the local food economy, and served as co-Chair of the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable (2007-11). I am also President of the Canadian Association for Food Studies.

Recent Publications

  • S. Scott, Zhenzhong Si, Theresa Schumilas and Aijuan Chen. (accepted) "Contradictions in China’s Path to Zero Food Safety Risk: State- and civil society-driven developments in the ecological agriculture sector." Food Policy.
  • Tara Vinodrai, Riaz Nathu, Scott Ross, Emily Robson, Steffanie Scott, Paul Parker. 2012. Taking regional action? Understanding networks in the local food, green energy & creative sectors in Waterloo region. A research paper prepared for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. Toronto: EDCO.
  • S. Scott, Peter Vandergeest and Mary Young 2009. "Certification Standards and the Governance of Green Foods in Southeast Asia" in Jennifer Clapp and Doris Fuchs (eds.), Power and Private Interests in Global Food Governance.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 61-92.
University of Waterloo