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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Food Democracy in Global Governance: Analysis of Power and Participation in Partnerships to End Hunger and Malnutrition

Julia is a doctoral researcher at the Department of Agriculture and Food Policy in the Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her main research interests are citizen participation in public and private food governance, global democ-racy, sustainable agricultural transitions, political discourse, and e-government.


Demonstration for better food systems in Berlin 2018.Photo- JULIA DENNIS.JPG

Photo: Julia Dennis 

This doctoral thesis aims to understand how food democracy, through operationalized variables, could be measured in the context of global agri-food governance institutions. Despite technological innovations and an overall increase in global food quantity, an estimated two billion people remain malnourished today. On the one hand, agri-businesses, non-governmental organizations, and celebrity philanthropists are encouraged to partner with states for healthier food systems, as this could mean a more deliberative, inclusive and effective turn in food governance. However, widening the governance circle also leads to new questions about democratic legitimacy beyond the state. The concept of food democracy has been inspiring political research since the mid-1990s, though so far researchers have focused on the local level, for example in urban gardens or community-supported agriculture. More theoretical and empirical work needs to be done to identify links between participation, power and food democracy nationally, regionally and transnationally. This research will aim to answer such questions as:
  • How do global private actors become democratically legitimate and act on behalf of the public good?
  • How do we democratize governance to repre-sent those at the ends of the ‘value chain,’ such as food producers and consumers?
  • At what level (global, local, national) should food policy be democratized?
  • Why de-mocratize in the first place, and who benefits?

Democratization research is increasingly urgent as we reach the edge of planetary boundaries. By considering food democracy on a global level, this work strives to un-cover new challenges and opportunities for all actors working to sustainably end hunger and improve global nutrition.


Julia has a background as a journalist with a Master’s degree in Environment and Development Studies from King’s College London. She is currently a DAAD-funded doctoral candidate in Food and Agriculture Policy at the Albrecht Daniel Thaer Insti-tute of Humboldt University. Before moving to Germany, Julia was a Communications Manager at the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) in the UK and Switzerland. In 2015/16, she was a German Chancellor’s Fellow with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.




Julia Dennis, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program
Tel.: +49 (0) 30 2093 46329
E-Mail: julia.dennis@hu-berlin.de