MA IDS Thesis Projects


Three Strikes for the Global Food System: What Alternative Agricultural Initiatives Can Offer

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences


International Development and Service

Degree Name

International Development and Service, MA


Since the industrialization of agriculture, food systems have become increasingly interconnected, expanding global markets to developed and developing countries alike. Yet, this system has taken on the values of its leading trans-national corporations, driven by profit, cheap labor, and direct access to resources. As fossil fuels and land have become depleted, trans-national corporations and governments are taking part in large-scale land acquisition through foreign investment. Coined ‘land grabs,’ they have displaced farmers, reduced food security, and amplified environmental degradation. As a result, movements for system reform have been suggested by international organizations like La Via Campesina. As the debate continues, it largely remains a system where people do not have the first right to food within their own country and where land and resources are used as if limitless. Through a multi-case study and thematic analysis, this research explores alternative agricultural initiatives in South Korea, Bolivia, and Brazil in order to contribute to arguments supporting a shift to systems based on food sovereignty and agroecology. Seven positive trends have been identified that are typically omitted from the global food system model and offer a new perspective to the one-dimensional profit system. Based on this research, actors including grassroots, NGOs, and governments, should collaborate in implementing localized agricultural systems that build community, dignity, security, and preserve traditional cultures. Future research is needed to increase the reliability of outcomes and to better compare corporate-led initiatives with alternative agricultural systems.

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