Hannah Wittman

Wall Scholar




Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES)





Geographic Location

Hannah Wittman

Prof. Hannah Wittman is a Professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, and the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. She received her PhD from Cornell University in the field of Development Sociology.  She leads UBC’s Research Excellence Cluster in Diversified Agroecosystems, and served as Academic Director of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm from 2015-2020.  Her research uses participatory action and transdisciplinary methodologies to identify pathways towards food sovereignty, agrarian reform, agroecology, and health equity in Canada and Latin America.  Prof. Wittman is co-Specialty Chief editor of the Social Movements, Institutions and Governance section of Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems and on the editorial board of Agronomy for Sustainable Development. Her edited books include Environment and Citizenship in Latin America: Natures, Subjects and Struggles;  Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community, and Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems

Primary Recipient Awards

Hannah Wittman – International Research Roundtables – 2021

COVID-19 has unveiled acute and multi-scalar vulnerabilities in the global food system. Outbreaks in meatpacking plants and among temporary farm laborers confined to cramped living quarters, supply chain disruptions leading to wasted crops and empty supermarket shelves and surging demand at food banks all point to threats to food security.  Through an interdisciplinary Working Group and Virtual Workshop with international participants, we will publish analyses and evidence-based recommendations about the potential effectiveness of redistributive policies to increase resilience in the face of the current crisis and into the future.
This Virtual Roundtable has four main objectives.  First, to identify the vulnerabilities brought to light during the COVID-19 crisis and examine the degree to which these vulnerabilities are connected to concentration of wealth, agricultural land, food sector corporate power and food commodities.  Second, to explore the potential effects of redistribution of food systems assets (e.g. land, intellectual property, production quotas, corporate ownership stakes, and knowledge) on ecological sustainability, food security and social justice. Third, to identify specific policy mechanisms for redistribution of food system assets based on examples drawn from both Canadian and international contexts. Lastly, to explore the applicability of a 5Ds of Redistribution policy framework, informed by the food sovereignty movement, to consider when weighing redistribution policy options.

Hannah Wittman – Wall Scholars – 2021

During her residency as a Wall Scholar, Prof. Wittman will work with an interdisciplinary team of scholars and citizen scientists to visualize, synthesize and communicate the integrated social and ecological mechanisms underlying complex agroecosystems and agroecological transitions. These methods aim to inform policy and practices supporting more resilient and sustainable food systems by making the complexity of agroecosystems more legible to stakeholders including consumers, farmers, and policy makers, and more ‘easily translated’ across diverse disciplinary boundaries including ecology (biodiversity and climate change), agronomy (soil fertility and crop yield), nutrition (calories and micronutrients), anthropology (biocultural heritage and values), economics (livelihood and market orientation), and political science (governance and social movements).

Hannah Wittman – International Research Roundtables – 2019

Two of the most pressing challenges of the twenty-first century are to improve global food security and more effectively conserve biodiversity.  Food security and biodiversity conservation are intimately connected through agriculture, which is widely recognized as a driver of biodiversity decline. However, the multi-scalar relationships affecting the achievement of both food security and biodiversity conservation are still not fully understood, and assessment frameworks often assume that food security and biodiversity conservation are ‘competing goals’ that must inherently trade-off.  The Emerging Research Cluster for Diversified Agroecosystems (2018) uses ecological, social, and economic and systems analysis perspectives for integrated research on sustainable agriculture and food systems.  Our aim is to develop and implement monitoring protocols to examine the trade-offs and synergies in social and ecosystem services in diversified agroecosystems.
This Roundtable will assess and advance a synthesis and research agenda focused more specifically on innovations for agroecosystem monitoring at the intersection of food security and biodiversity.

Hannah Wittman – Theme Development Workshop – 2018
Hannah Wittman – Theme Development Workshop – 2015
Hannah Wittman – Early Career Scholar Start-Up Research Grant – 2013

Co-Principal Investigator Awards

Harriett Friedmann – International Visiting Research Scholars – 2018
Evan Fraser – International Visiting Research Scholars – 2014