This symposium brings together leading scholars across disciplines to address challenges and opportunities at the intersection of food and ICTs in everyday urban environment.

Food is a vital foundation of all human life. It is essential to a myriad of political, socio-cultural, economic and environmental practices throughout history. However, those practices of food production, consumption, and distribution have the potential to now go through immensely transformative shifts as network technologies become increasingly embedded in every domain of contemporary life. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are one of the key foundations of global functionality and sustenance today and undoubtedly will continue to present new challenges and opportunities for the future. As such, this Symposium will bring together leading scholars across disciplines to address challenges and opportunities at the intersection of food and ICTs in everyday urban environment. In particular, the discussion will revolve around the question: What are the key roles that network technologies play in re-shaping the food systems at micro- to macroscopic level?

The symposium will contribute a unique perspective on urban food futures through the lens of network society paradigm where ICTs enable innovations in production, organisation, and communication within society. Some of the topics addressed will include encouraging transparency in food commodity chains; value of cultural understanding and communication in global food sustainability; and technologies to social inclusion; all of which evoke and examine the question surrounding networked individuals as changes catalysts for urban food futures. The event will provide an avenue for new discussions and speculations on key issues surrounding urban food futures in the network era, with a particular focus on bottom-up micro actions that challenge the existing food systems towards a broader sociocultural, political, technological, and environmental transformations.

One central area of concern is that current systems of food production, distribution, and consumption do not ensure food security for the future, but rather seriously threaten it. With the recent unprecedented scale of urban growth and rise of middle-class, the problem continues to intensify. This situation requires extensive distribution networks to feed urban residents, and therefore poses significant infrastructural challenges to both the public and private sectors. The symposium will also address the transferability of citizen empowerment that network technologies enable as demonstrated in various significant global political transformations from the bottom-up, such as the recent Egyptian Youth Revolution. Another key theme of the discussion will be the role of ICTs (and the practices that they mediate) in fostering transparency in commodity chains. The symposium will ask what differences these technologies can make on the practices of food consumption and production.

After discussions, we will initiate an international network of food-thinkers and actors that will function as a platform for knowledge sharing and collaborations. The participants will be invited to engage in planning for the on-going future development of the network.

Call for Papers

This symposium will be limited to invited participants. Papers will be selected for presentation at the symposium based on peer review of abstracts. We welcome submissions of original work from diverse disciplinary backgrounds including, but not limited to, urban informatics, human-computer interaction, sustainability, design, humanities and future studies. Interested participants should submit a 500 word abstract, and 250 word biography, by 28 October 2011 to h.choi@qut.edu.au. The authors of successful abstracts will be notified by 7 November 2011. We are currently in the process of ensuring that post-workshop publication of selected papers will follow in a special journal issue.

Partners

This symposium is a collaboration with the Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation (QUT), the Creative Industries Faculty (QUT), and the Urban Informatics Research Lab (QUT).