2023 BIPOC Sustainability internship

Location: Remote

Dates: July 3 to August 11 (6 weeks)

“To be truly regenerative, we must be reparative”: a BIPOC agenda for regional sustainable systems

Many Black Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) communities identify regenerative soil, water, and energy systems as the basis for intergenerational healing from slavery and colonization. In this lens, the exploitation of land is based on the exploitation of people, and the regeneration of land depends on the regeneration of people. However, BIPOC are severely underrepresented in the agricultural sector. In Massachusetts, over 5,000 farms are individually owned, but only 21 of them are owned by a Black person. New York State has 57,000 farmers, and only 139 are Black. As the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust (NEFOC) and Black Farmer Fund (BFF) note, this is due to “institutionalized racism and discrimination in lending, insufficient representation at policy tables, inappropriate tools and criteria, and a general dearth of resources needed to facilitate black farmers’ and food business owners’ access to land and capital. Despite those barriers, there is burgeoning black interest in farming and healthier food resulting from decades of organizing, institution-building, and by ongoing health disparities in black communities – made more egregious by the devastating impact of COVID19 on Black and Brown communities”.

The purpose of this project is to understand the processes, practices, and collective power building of BIPOC farmers and food system actors to form regional networks that bear holistic visions for urban and regional sustainability that are deeply embedded in their communities.  This project takes special interest in the ways that BIPOC knowledge of ecological processes and sustainability policy networks have shaped regional movements and flows.

Integrative research gaps that will be explored during the planning period of the proposed project include:

  1. How does BIPOC ecological knowledge foster sustainable regional systems?
  2. How do BIPOC sustainability policy networks foster sustainable regional systems?
  3. What are the key assets and gaps determining the collective impact of BIPOC networks?

Students working on this project will gain knowledge about the processes, practices, and collective power building of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) farmers and food system actors to form regional networks that bear holistic visions for urban and regional sustainability that are deeply embedded in their communities.

This would be a project that would be well-served by students interested in racial justice, environmental studies, sustainability, and/or sociology.  Students will gain a conceptual understanding of regenerative agriculture, reparations, collective impact, and historical barriers and variables to BIPOC land stewardship.  They will also learn about community-engaged research methods and ethical social science research.  This includes, but is not limited to, asset-based community engagement and a systems-level view of social problems and their root causes.

The students will also develop visual storytelling, mapping, interview, ethnographic, presentation, and qualitative research skills.

To apply (cover letter and resume) or for questions, please email Dr. Katherine Foo, [email protected]