Project management

Food security needs social-science input

Subjects

As members of the Climate- Resilient Open Partnership for Food Security project supported by the World Wide University Network (see go.nature.com/28ygwtc), we contend that basic social-science theory and methods could transform interventions aimed at improving food production.

Food security calls for agricultural advances, adaptation to climate change and more efficient use of natural resources. Just as important are the social and political considerations of reforming food production and distribution systems.

All too often, poor communication between the scientific community and the public, including potential users, impedes utilization of new technologies. Social networks, power inequalities and institutional resistance to change must all be taken into account if the system is to be reformed (see W. W. Powell et al. in The Science of Science Policy 31–55, Stanford Univ. Press; 2011).

We therefore suggest that research consortia in food security and their funding agencies should include social scientists from the outset (see A. Viseu Nature 525, 291; 2015). This would dramatically enhance project management and conceptual development by dealing with the complex interactions between natural and social factors.

Author information

Correspondence to Klaus Nüsslein.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Nüsslein, K., Dhankher, O. Food security needs social-science input. Nature 535, 37 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/535037d

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.