Skip down to main content

Urban Food Futures: ICTs and Opportunities

With Dr Bernie Hogan, and Professor Mark Graham
Date & Time:
09:30:00 - 17:00:00,
Wednesday 14 December, 2011


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 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.


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).

Invited Speakers

Dr Jaz Hee-jeong Choi

ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology

Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow (Industry) at the Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT. Her research interests are in playful technology, particularly the ways in which various forms of playful interaction are designed, developed, and integrated in different cultural contexts. In her doctoral research, she developed a new conceptual approach to urban sustainability that recognises ‘play’ as the core of transformative interactions in cities as technosocial networks. She has been at the forefront of designing and developing playful ubiquitous technologies to cultivate sustainable food culture in urban environments. She has collaborated with leading international researchers and published in books and journals across various disciplines, including a co-edited book on food sustainability and human-computer-interaction due for publication in 2012 by MIT Press.

Dr Eleftheria Lekakis

Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Shaun Lawson

Professor of Social Computing, Lincoln School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln

Shaun Lawson is Professor of Social Computing in the School of Computer Science where he directs the Lincoln Social Computing (LiSC) Research Centre. He holds PhD and BEng degrees from Universities of Surrey and Newcastle respectively. His research is focussed on social aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI). This includes investigations of how people engage with mobile and social platforms including online social networks (OSNs), micro-blogging services, and social and pervasive games. Much of his recent work is built upon the hypothesis that such technology provides a platform to deliver social interactive services which can be used for serious purposes and behaviour change. For instance he currently holds EU, HEFCE and EPSRC funding to, respectively, investigate how social computing can be used to: teach leadership skills, reduce energy consumption and improve engagement with psychological treatments for mental health disorders. He has authored or co-authored over 50 publications which have accrued over 100 citations from academic colleagues and has held peer-reviewed grants worth £1.5 million from sources such as EPSRC, the EU, Microsoft Research and UK charities.

Charles Reese Brigham

World Bank

Ugo Vallauri

Royal Holloway, University of London

Nikolas Pollinger

My Farm, National Trust

Andrew Cock-Starkey

My Farm, National Trust

Dr Tad Hirsch

School of Art, University of Washington

Dr Marc Tuters

University of Amsterdam

Dr Sonia Massari

University of Florence

Professor Anna Davies

Trinity College Dublin

Professor Charlotte de Backer

University of Antwerp

Dr Jonathan Elms

University of Stirling

Professor Alan Hallsworth

University of Portsmouth

Markus Schroeder

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Dr Tanja Schneider

Said Business School, University of Oxford

Dr Javier Lezaun

Said Business School, University of Oxford

Soren Gigler

Related Topics