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Students challenge the world to spare a Thought for Food

14 Apr 2011

Students need your support to tackle the world's food issues

Today one billion people will go hungry. And today one billion people will over-consume. The world's food system is failing. Food issues make headline news across the globe. And mankind faces its biggest challenge to date.

In the first initiative of its kind, Thought for Food has challenged 50 students at 10 of Europe's leading universities to tackle the world's food issues in innovative ways.

A five person cross-disciplinary team from The University of Manchester has been selected to research, brainstorm ideas, develop practical solutions and bring them to life in the community.

The Sustainable Consumption Institute, in partnership with the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, is taking the lead on The University of Manchester’s engagement with this prestigious new student challenge.

Sponsored by Syngenta, the challenge is encouraging talented students to break the mould, let their imaginations run wild and become the champions and visionaries for a new generation of global leaders.

Each team has been assigned a three part challenge and a creative mentor to help them reach a broad audience and raise awareness about food security, global hunger, food waste and food production versus climate change.

One of their targets is to add 1,000 Facebook friends. If you too are passionate about a sustainable future for our food, help our team spread the message by becoming a Facebook friend at

A panel of sustainability and innovation experts including Professors Maynard Case, Luke Georghiou, Alistair Ulph and the Thought for Food mentors, Jane Raftery and Dr Bruce Grieve, judged the shortlist of applicants to choose a student team from all four faculties: Engineering & Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Medical & Human Sciences, and Humanities, including Manchester Business School.

The Manchester Team is Ruchi Gupta, School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Peter Bickerton, School of Plant Science, Kelly Tate, Psychology – Sustainable Consumption Institute, Jean-Philippe Michel, Organisational Psychology, Manchester Business School and Jonathan Spencer Economics, School of Social Sciences.

The team meets regularly at the Sustainable Consumption Institute to work on the challenge in addition to their regular workload, and are expected to keep a video diary of their progress over the next the two months.

Their work will be featured in an online video that will record the whole project and share Thought for Food with the world (see video above)

Jean-Philippe Michel said: "I am pleased to work with a interdisciplinary team of passionate and motivated students that believe they can change the world.

“We hope to learn from and be inspired by the latest research, ideas and leaders in global food issues and to challenge ourselves to generate innovative solutions to one of the world's most important issues."

Kelly Tate added: “In addition to providing an excellent addition to my CV, I would like to develop my wider skills as a researcher by helping to deliver innovative ideas which may be used practically.

“I would like the opportunity to apply my knowledge of this area in a practical and creative way, to provide a real-world solution to such a global problem."

The grand prize they are hoping to win, for all their effort, is the chance to be one of the two University teams selected to showcase their work at One Young World in Zurich, the premier global forum for young people of leadership calibre.

Dr Bruce Grieve said: “In the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering we are helping to address some of the greatest and most complex world challenges by abandoning traditional ways of thinking and adopting a small number of strategic themes.

“Central to this philosophy is our 'e-Agri' theme, which focuses on the future for sustainable agriculture and food supply.

“Far from abandoning our core research and teaching, by getting out into the field with our colleagues from the farming and food sectors we are unearthing novel engineering solutions to help meet their needs.

“This multidisciplinary TFF challenge is extremely timely, not just as a great opportunity for the student team, but also to create some inspiring new thinking to catalyse awareness amongst our broader student community.

Visit their Facebook page (TFF Manchester) for updates or read the Manchester's team blog at