Published on 10/23/18

D.W. Brooks Lecture, on Nov. 8, to call for the end of siloed thinking about food

By Merritt Melancon

Author and international development expert Robert Paarlberg has spent years dismantling the oversimplified narratives surrounding global hunger and its remedies.

It’s not enough to encourage more plant-based diets or bolster local markets, and it’s not enough to rely on modern agricultural technology to deliver evermore-productive grain crops, he says. The answer, Paarlberg asserts, is somewhere in the middle.

Paarlberg will bring his message of evaluating ideas without labels to the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 as part of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ annual D.W. Brooks Lecture and Awards.

The D.W. Brooks Lecture is held each year in honor of college alumnus and Gold Kist, Inc. founder D.W. Brooks and is accompanied by the D.W. Brooks Awards for Excellence. The awards recognize college faculty and staff who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the college’s missions of research, instruction and extension.

Paarlberg’s talk, “Foodies vs. Aggies: Compromise for a New Food System,” will challenge the dichotomy between “sustainable” and “intensive” food systems. We need a food system that is both, he insists.

“No one group has the monopoly on good ideas, and we’re not going to solve the world’s looming food crisis unless we consider multiple perspectives,” said Sam Pardue, CAES dean and director. “Robert Paarlberg has studied agricultural policies and their ramifications around the world for the last 30 years. He’s witnessed the ways the different narratives built around agriculture have hindered efforts to build a more resilient food supply. 

“We don’t have the luxury of siloed thinking anymore,” he added.

Paarlberg is an adjunct professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting professor at Harvard College, and an associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. From 1976 until 2015, he was a professor of political science at Wellesley College.

He is the author of three books on the promise and peril of the modern food system, including “Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know,” “The United States of Excess: Gluttony and the Dark Side of American Exceptionalism,” and “Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa.”

In addition’s to Paarlsberg’s talk, which is free and open the public, CAES will be presenting its D.W. Brooks Awards of Excellence at a ceremony after the lecture. This year’s awards honor some of the college’s most dedicated and creative researchers, teachers and Extension leaders.

The 2018 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Research will be presented to Qingguo “Jack” Huang, professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, whose research into the remediation of organic compounds in polluted soil and water has gained international attention.

The 2018 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Kari Turner, associate professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, whose focus on inspiring undergraduates has helped to earn the department its excellent reputation for student-centered instruction.

The 2018 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Global Programs will be presented to Yen-Con Hung, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, whose commitment to international outreach and collaboration has helped to build safer food systems around the world.

The 2018 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Extension will be presented to Dan Suiter, a professor in the Department of Entomology, who has developed training programs for structural and urban pest management professionals that have been used across the Southeast and around the world.

The 2018 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension will be presented to Lisa Jordan, the Family and Consumer Sciences program development coordinator (PDC) for UGA Cooperative Extension’s Southeast District. Before being appointed PDC, she spent almost two decades working to expand the reach and reputation of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Chatham County.

For more information about this year’s event, visit

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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