Roundtable Discussion: Transitioning to Just and Sustainable Food Systems: Lessons from Ecological Economics

A round table discussion with Liz Carlisle, Kamuela Enos, and Albie Miles; moderated by Phil Warsaw

Friday April 2nd 3pm EDT

The 2nd Event in the United States Society for Ecological Economics’ 2021 Webinar Series: The Post-Covid Economy: Centering Justice, Sustaining Ecosystems

The COVID-19 pandemic has put into stark relief the everyday inequities within the food system faced by working-class communities, particularly BIPOC populations, as well as the broader unsustainability of industrial agriculture globally. The challenges span the entire supply chain: consolidation among producers has resulted in unsafe working conditions among farmworkers, while encouraging farming practices which deplete natural resources and reduce biodiversity. Retail workers, facing similarly consolidated markets, have been forced into underpaid (yet “essential”) employment. All the while, these same households face inadequate access and control of their local food environments, contributing poor public health outcomes reflected in disparate COVID-19 mortality rates among BIPOC in the U.S. This round table discussion will explore the existing dynamics within the food system, local perspectives on resisting these trends, and the potential for ecological economics as a base for envisioning a new and more just food system in the post-COVID economy.

Register on Eventbrite

Panel Bios:

Liz Carlisle is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara. Her research and teaching is dedicated to fostering a more just and sustainable food system, with a specific focus on agroecological transition in the US. Born and raised in Montana, she got hooked on sustainable agriculture while working as an aide to organic farmer and U.S. Senator Jon Tester, which led to a decade of research and writing collaborations with agroecological farmers in her home state. She is the author of the book Lentil Underground and co-author, with Bob Quinn, of the book Grain by Grain, and she has written both popular and academic articles about food and farm policy, incentivizing soil health practices, and supporting new entry farmers.

Kamuela Enos is the Director of the newly created Office of Indigenous Innovation for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation at the University of Hawaiʻi. Before taking this position he worked for 11 years at MAʻO Organic Farms where he served as their Director of Social Enterprise. He was born and raised in Waiʻanae on the island of Oʻahu. He received a bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian studies and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He sits on the boards of numerous community-based nonprofits, and was a commissioner on President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Albie Miles is Assistant Professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems at the University of Hawai’i – West O’ahu. Dr. Miles received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from UC Berkeley in 2013. His natural science research explores the relationship between farming system biodiversity and the provisioning of ecosystem services to and from agriculture. His social science research explores the socio-economic and political obstacles to achieving ecologically sustainable and socially just food and farming systems. He has worked at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz.


Phil Warsaw is an Assistant Professor of Ecological Economics and Environmental Justice in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Broadly, his research takes an interdisciplinary approach to questions of environmental justice, economic development, and sustainability, combining approaches from economics and the other social sciences, such as the use of critical theory.