Food consumption as everyday transformation: participatory research and collaborative learning for social-ecological change

Responsibility for sustainable food consumption is discussed globally and nationally, but (not) practised regionally and especially in everyday routines. For this reason, the project focuses on the everyday experiences of children and young people with food consumption (practices) in order to better understand how they address food consumption within their everyday life and environment: What everyday references do young people make to issues of a socially just and ecologically sustainable food system? In which everyday contexts does responsibility become concrete (for whom)? In which social perspectives and viewpoints are these and other questions embedded?

As part of the project, pupils from three secondary schools in Graz are working as co-researchers with academic researchers to explore food practices and their socio-cultural contexts in everyday life. They identify strengths, weaknesses and potential for change in the local environment. In doing so, previously invisible layers of knowledge are made visible and a dialogue is entered into with the local public.

In the project, the co-researchers actively participate in the success of the entire research process as experts of their everyday live and practices that take place there: They formulate their own questions, which they pursue using the Photovoice method, and curate, present and discuss their research results. In this method, the co-researchers take photographs of their everyday life and environment and explore the contexts and forms of appearance of different food consumption practices. The photographs will be structured in group discussions in several workshops and reflected on in a subject-related manner in order to expose recurring narratives as well as ingrained patterns of thinking and acting on (non-)sustainable food consumption. In order to make the results visible, internal school exhibitions will be designed, which will be presented to decision-makers and the public in a large joint exhibition in Graz in the third year of the project. In this way, the research results also aim at fostering local change in the environment of the co-researchers. 

The workshop material used to implement the research projects will be continuously developed over the course of the project together with the co-researchers and the teachers involved. In the form of a multimedia handout, this material will be made available digitally as an open educational resource and anchored in the education system beyond the project context.

(Photocredit © Pexels)