International Symposium – Stories from a Post-growth Future

15th RIHN International Symposium: “Transitioning Cultures of Everyday Food Consumption and Production: Stories from a Post-growth Future.

Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 – Saturday, 16th, 2021 

Language: English(Simultaneous translation to Japanese is available.) 

Pre-Registration: Register from here: 


Venue: Online(Zoom, Slack) 

Wednesday 13th, 9:30 – 12:15 (Japan); 0:30-3:30 (London); 19:30 – 22:30 (on the 12th East Coast USA) 

Thursday 14th, 15:00 – 17:45 (Japan); 6:00 – 8:45 (London); Midnight – 3:45 (East Coast USA) 

Friday 15th, 15:00 – 17:45 (Japan); 6:00 – 8:45 (London); Midnight – 3:45 (East Coast USA) 

Saturday 16th, 9:30 – 12:45 (Japan); 0:30-3:45 (London); 19:30 – 22:45 (on the 15th East Coast USA) 

Sponsored by: Research Institute for Humanity and Nature 

Due to the global pandemic, the symposium will be carried out online. We will be using both Zoom (for live sessions) and Slack to extend the discussion beyond live interactions. After Pre-Registration, please join Slack to receive Zoom link to participate. 

Slack link: 

The full program will be released shortly! 


Whether by ecological breakdown or concerted action, the era of mass production and consumption is nearing its end. This means that the resource-intensive systems of provisioning on which many currently depend upon to meet their daily needs will change. For years, weak sustainability approaches emphasized the importance of individual attitudes, behaviors, and choices as the lever to shift economies and societies toward smaller footprints. These strategies have not only proven unsuccessful, they point to fundamental flaws in consumption-based economic models. Recent crises serve to further stress the fragility of economies that must perpetually grow. 

Food systems, in all their many forms and complex interaction, are already showing signs of failure. Industrial agriculture, factory farms, and mass-produced and processed food are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, cause massive biodiversity and soil fertility loss, contribute to non-communicable diseases, and weaken farming communities worldwide. Industrial agriculture alone is a significant contributor to 8 of the 10 planetary boundaries. 

The window of time in which effective action is possible is closing fast and the degree of change needed is immense– stronger, more radical strategies for economic and social change are essential. Driving the agricultural crisis, and much of the environmental crises we see today, is the relentless push for economic growth. The question before those concerned about the future of food and the planet, is how to reimagine and enact models for production, consumption, and governance that are viable, desirable, and possible outside of a growth-first paradigm. We must not only downscale energy and material throughput, but design a metabolism that functions very differently– different values, different lifestyles, different practices, and a different way of relating to nature. 

As food is so ingrained in culture and the rhythms of daily life, the repatterning of a post-growth food system has profound implications for the future of lifestyles, work, and health. How might sustainable food practices reconstitute foodscapes of sufficiency and conviviality, in which the line between consumer and producer is blurred? How do we redesign food production around the principles of agroecology so they might regenerate ecological synergies and expand farmer and citizen sovereignty? Food futures are political– how do civic food actors rally around desirable food visions and find agency in transforming their foodsheds? Finally, can our relationship with food and agriculture redefine socio-cultural ideas of the good life and enable alternative worldviews that embrace ecological and social limits? 

Seeking a post-growth future for food and society is reengaging with core tenants of RIHN’s mission: to debate how human culture ought to operate on the planet and identify practical solutions and transformative pathways to get us there. This symposium brings together interdisciplinary scholars to share stories of a present and future in which “enough is as good as a feast.” 


Session 1: Regional and Regenerative Foodsheds 

In this session we critically reimagine food production as bioregional, decentralized, and highly autonomous systems. We examine the spatial implications of such a redesign and what they mean for food security and sovereignty. How do we plan, construct, and measure the impacts of place-based, localized food systems and what are some examples? How might food production change to be more agroecological and sensitive to the needs of other species? 

Session 2: Food Futures, Transdisciplinary Processes, and Politics 

The way we envision the future unfolding has tremendous influence over how we make decisions. Likewise, who is included in policy-relevant discussions and joint knowledge production contributes significantly to the robustness and legitimacy of possible outcomes. New forms of governance and policy that engage with the future and relevant stakeholders will be needed to reach a more sustainable food system. How do future-making activities -e.g. foresight, models, scenario exercises- engage and (de)politicize food futures? How do transdisciplinary involve stakeholders effectively in the context of food policy? And what are the stories associated with these processes? 

Session 3: Food-alternatives in the Present 

There are post-growth food practices hiding in plain sight, incubating and awaiting their moment to spread. In what ways do consumers and producers enact alternative food practices in their daily lives and rhythms of work and what are the implications for the future? What role do alternative business models and technologies play as key materials in the reproduction of practices?  

Session 4: Sufficiency and Cultural Change 

Underlying societal change are processes of cultural shift– values and worldviews that make sense of the world we live in. How can our relationship with food and agriculture redefine socio-cultural ideas of the good life and enable alternative worldviews that embrace ecological and social limits? 

Final Session: Discussion across all sessions 

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