Theresa Schumilas received her doctoral degree in Geography and Environmental Management in 2014. Her dissertation examined the ways in which China’s unique cultural, environmental, economic and political context is supporting and restraining the rapid development of a variety of ‘alternative’ food provisioning networks. Her work was part of the team’s ongoing research into China’s ecological food and farming sector.
While studying these diverse food relations, Theresa became fascinated by the ways in which emerging food activists in China were making use of internet and communication technologies as tools for community organizing and advocacy. She brought her questions ‘home’ to Canada and is now a postdoctoral fellow with the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, studying how sustainable food movements in Canada are engaging with these new on-line spaces. Through ethnographic and action research approaches, she is examining how emerging digital economies and technologies are opening up possibilities for linking together and scaling up grassroots food innovation, and enabling new forms of on-line activism toward transforming unsustainable food systems. Theresa is an organic flower farmer, and has been active in Canada’s ecological and organic agriculture communities for over 30 years. She is particularly interested in how emerging agro-ecological and ‘new peasant’ movements are constructing new on-line communities using open source technologies (such as Open Food Network).