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The "good" food: From food as a commodity to food as a commons
Narratives on Food-as-a-commons: Are we experiencing a paradigm shift?
The future of food: How to design our common responsibility?
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December 9, 2021





Welcome to the

IASC One-Day Virtual Conference on Food Commons in Europe and Beyond

The current debate on food policy navigates between two major paradigms on how food is valued and governed: The well-established post-exceptionalist public/private state/market binary in which food is still largely considered a commodity but with a sector that slowly moves from state-protected to be market-regulated; and the old-new paradigm supported by commons scholars, contemporary food initiatives and customary food systems who advocate for a holistic and multi-dimensional view on the agri-food sector taken care of in common (SAPEA-Consortium, 2020; Vivero-Pol, 2019; Carceller-Sauras & Theesfeld, 2021). For this event, we are focusing on the latter. Consequently, the aim of this one-day event is thus digging into the recent development in the discussion on the valuation, provision, and use of food as a commons. Commons play a fundamental role as inputs (i.e., seeds, land, water, knowledge) and outputs (food, oxygen, soil fertility, landscapes) in the food system along the agricultural value chains. Commoning also provides a third way of governing resources essential for communities and societies, aside from market mechanisms and public provision. Food commons comprise natural and cultural resources (material and immaterial) held collectively, including traditional institutions with centuries of tradition and newly evolving and very innovative forms of shared governance.

This one-day virtual conference is unique in bringing interested people together that deal with food commons issues directly or who study food governance in a manner that provides room for the idea that food can be reframed and governed as a commons.

The conference will showcase food commons cases in Europe and abroad and provide a unique forum to explore the broad spectrum of “food as a commons” research and food policy implications. The event will spell out and systematize the various value-based narratives and place-based understandings of “food-commons.” Additionally, the meeting will connect experts, early career scholars, and commoners to this new field. Finally, the meeting will have a specific aim to platform the debate on policy interventions on the European Common Agricultural Policy in Europe, but most likely also for other regions of the world. It will provide an opportunity for European commoners and scholars to learn from other food commons’ experiences and vice versa.

This one-day virtual conference aims to broaden a dialogue between traditional food-commons scholars and practitioners engaging with natural input resources to primary production with scientists and activists shaping innovative collective forms of participating in food waste distribution up to experts exploring traditional and contemporary knowledge on food and agriculture as a knowledge commons.

There will be a webinar with invited speakers, focusing on the debate around various epistemologies of food narratives, theory, methodologies, and schools of thought around the food as commons idea; development of initiatives, and finally, the political implications at European and global level. Here, we will debate “food as commons” narratives, different forms of food system governance, and finally, questions about how reframing and governing food as a commons may unlock unpermitted or unexplored policies, thus opening up a new set of policy and legal tools that can facilitate a transition towards fairer and more sustainable food systems within planetary boundaries.

Later, panels will be held to substantiate the debate. Four moderated discussions based on pre-recorded talks that came in via a call for papers will be held.

The day continues with the presentation of the European Network of Territories of Commons (an ongoing initiative with 67 researchers and commoners from 35 countries aimed at understanding how many hectares are owned or governed as a commons in Europe, how many peoples are involved, and how much food is produced). A final session will allow brainstorming on policy impacts, both at the local and national levels, and strategies to promote those transitions.


September 29, 2021

October 22, 2021

November 30, 2021

View the

Program at a Glance

All times are CET (Central European Time), UTC +01:00

12:00 - 12:15 pmPlenaryWelcome by IASC president and Program overview, Insa Theesfeld
12:15 - 1:00 pmPlenary Session"Reframing food: From commodity to commons", José Luis Vivero-Pol

"Non-market foodways", Sam Bliss
1:00 - 1:45 pmPlenary Session"Food Ethics in Food Commons Transition", Deidre Woods

“Commons and commoning to de-commodify food systems”, Tomaso Ferrando
1:45 - 2:15 pmBreak
2:15 - 2:45 pmPlenary Session"Typology to classify food systems activities as a commons", Elia Carceller-Sauras & Insa Theesfeld
2:45 – 3:25 pmSession 1A common responsibility to safeguard food culture and knowledge
Moderator: Martina Padmanabhan
Panelists: Sofía Espinosa Bonifaz, Ruta Śpiewak, Jenifer Robinson, Philippe Ninnin, Yoshitaka Miyake, and Michael Classens
This session is a moderated discussion based on panelists' pre-recorded talks that attendees should watch beforehand.
3:30 - 4:10 pmSession 2The food journey in common: Distributing food products from the field to the bin and beyond
Moderators: Charlie Spring & Joshua Lohnes
Panelists: Osamu Saito, Dagmar Diesner, Sara Moreira, and Celine Raimbert
This session is a moderated discussion based on panelists' pre-recorded talks that attendees should watch beforehand.
4:10 - 4:30 pmBreak
4:30 - 5:10 pmSession 3Inputs to the system: Governing food producing commons
Moderator: Stefanie Sievers-Glotzbach
Panelists: Libertad Castro-Colina, Biswajit Ray, Justin Sacks, Jae Weon So, and Wesley Zebrowski
This session is a moderated discussion based on panelists' pre-recorded talks that attendees should watch beforehand.
5:15 - 6.00 pmSession 4Changing food discourses: Territories of the commons
Moderator: Chris Short
Panelists: Tobias Haller, Mimi Urbanc, Ryo Kohsaka, Lana Slavuj Borčić, Claire Bernard-Mongin, Adrienne Leroy, and Jean-François Joye
This session is a moderated discussion based on panelists' pre-recorded talks that attendees should watch beforehand.
6:00 - 7:00 pmWonder me roomGrab your dinner and join us to talk and socialize with other attendees.
7:00 – 8:00 pmPlenary session on policy-science interface of food commons
Moderator Ruth Meinzen-Dick

"Introduction to the territory of commons research project and network", Antonio Manzoni

"Shifting framings of food and EU policy implications", Marianne Penker & Marta Rivera-Ferre

"Insights into the role of food and agricultural policy on the US food commons", James Farmer
8:00 - 8:15 pmClosing remarks What is next? Steps for a new food commons paradigm.

Meet Our

Invited Speakers

Tomaso Ferrando

Research Professor, Faculty of Law and Institute of Development Policy (IOB)
University of Antwerp, Belgium

Marta G. Rivera-Ferre

Research Professor at INGENIO (CSIC-UPV)
Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain

Sam Bliss

Gund Graduate Fellow, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Vermont, USA

Dee Woods

Visiting Research Associate at CAWR
Coventry University and member of the GLA London Food Board, UK


Call for Abstracts

Please submit your abstract of 250 words on one of the following tracks (see below) regarding food commons: (1) Shared management of food producing resources; (2) Joint responsibility for food products; (3) Collective responsibility for food distribution – to food waste; (4) Safeguarding food culture and other non-monetized food dimensions. We expect abstracts that particularly deal with one of the four aspects in the food chain and a strong link of conceptualizing it from a commons perspective. Drawing on commons scholarly background, commons are shared resources that are or could be held, used or governed collectively. The joint governance is essential to qualify any given resource as a commons. Social constructs that enable sharing and participation in the food sector are central. This perspective involves the scholarly community that advocates to focus more on the “commoning” side of the commons (doing things together), rather than on the materiality of the resources governed.



Here we expect abstracts that deal with food-producing inputs in the food system as a commons (seeds, knowledge, pastures, land). Also water and marine resources, such as rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastlines can be understood as food producing commons. Studies enabling an understanding of collective management practices in dealing with natural resources of the food chain are welcome. Further, we envision studies on the effect of specifically shared governance forms on food security and safety, nature and biodiversity protection, or adaptation capacities of food systems to climate change. A diversity of examples will be privileged during the selection process.

Here we expect abstracts that focus on the joint responsibility and exercising the “commoning” that institutes the commons. We are interested in the basic governance forms that allow for a joint responsibility how food products are produced and distributed. Abstracts should emphasize governance examples that produce the value of joint and shared responsibility for food or empirical results how citizens perceive these concrete opportunities to participate (i.e. hared actions between consumers and producers or food valuations that shape particular policy preferences). Eaters increasingly want to participate in the food system not only from the shop to the table, but from the field to the plate. You may focus on participation in decision making, such as how production risk is shared in community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, or how distribution channels are set up directly between producers and consumers without intermediaries.

Here we invite contributions that deal with the particular aspect of the ready to consume food units, which are either directly managed jointly by citizens and thus not being wasted or which are governed by governance arrangements that argue for a broad shared responsibility of humankind and thus find innovative ways to reduce wasting. We want to discuss collective action for food waste reduction and improved food distribution in Europe and beyond. Studies on initiatives and movements, or organizations, focusing on the citizen-led battle against food waste are the core. Abstracts should clearly present the link to the commons perspective, by making the food units again available for the community treats them as commons, no matter if they are further distributed as a marketable good or through sharing.

Cultural and knowledge resources related to food or food-producing commons, such as traditions, craftworks, traditional agricultural knowledge, cooking recipes and gastronomy are commons too when they are provided and taken care of jointly. They can even be provided with a shared responsibility of the current generation towards the future ones. In this sense we invite here contributions that consider immaterial commons and ethical considerations in relation to activities in the food system. Food as a sacred good or action, eating or processing as a cultural determinant, food as human’s bond to nature, food as identity, cooking recipes or gastronomical heritage as a shared resource steward by all the members of a given community, region or state, or food systems as providers of non-utilitarian services (European heritage) and life enabling services.



Individual Pre-recorded Talks to facilitate four Live Panels

An individual presentation is a pre-recorded 10-minute video. Participants can asynchronously interact with the presenter about the talk in the comment section starting 4 days prior to the one-day conference.

The focus of a live panels is debate. Presenters of pre-recorded talks are invited to be Panelists in one of the four live panels. They may make short statements after which there is a moderated discussion during which questions from the audience are addressed.

Meet The 

Scientific Committee

Camilla Sandström

Professor at Department of Political Science
Umea Universitet, Sweden

Mª del Mar Delgado-Serrano

Professor of Economy, Sociology and Agricultural Policy
University of Cordoba, Spain

Joy Y. Zhang

Director of Studies at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
University of Kent, UK

Chris Short

Associate Professor in Environmental Governance
University of Gloucestershire, UK

Stephen Healy

Senior Research Fellow at Institute for Culture and Society
Western Sydney University, Australia

Ryo Kohsaka

Professor at Department of Social and Human Environment
University of Nagoya, Japan

Stacey Giroux

Department of Anthropology and the Ostrom Workshop
Indiana University , USA

Tine de Moor

Professor of Social Enterprise and Institutions for Collective Action
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Annie Shattuck

Assistant Professor at Department of Geography
Indiana University , USA


Important Dates

September 29, 2021

Deadline for abstract submission

September 29, 2021
October 22, 2021

Notification on acceptance/rejection

October 22, 2021
November 30, 2021

Deadline for pre-recorded video submission

November 30, 2021
December 9, 2021

Event date

December 9, 2021



This virtual conference is accessible for small fees to cover the costs of the implementation of the meetings. All presenters will have to be or become IASC members. IASC members pay 10 dollars to attend the virtual conference live. All conference material will be available to IASC members after the conference. If you are not an IASC member, you can easily register here. Non-IASC members can attend the conference for a fee of 50 dollars. Dependent on sponsoring, waivers are available for early-career scholars and practitioners from the global south.

IASC Members
$ 10
$ 40

Meet The 

Organizing Committee

Insa Theesfeld

Professor of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Policy
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany & Ostrom Workshop Indiana University, USA

Jose Luis Vivero Pol

Ph.D. Research Fellow on Food Transitions
University of Louvain, Belgium

Marianne Penker

University of Natural Resources and Life Science, Vienna, Austria

James Farmer

Associate Professor
O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs & Ostrom Workshop, Indiana University, USA

Antonio Manzoni

Ph.D. Candidate
Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy

Elia Carceller Sauras

Ph.D. Candidate
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany


Event Sponsors

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How to get the most out of the IASC 2021 Fisheries and Aquaculture Commons Virtual Conference

Welcome to IASC 2021 Fisheries and Aquaculture Commons Virtual Conference! We are excited to have you on board! Whether this is your first time attending a virtual conference, or if this is one of many that you have experienced, we would like to give you some tips to increase your focus and make the most of your time during this event.

Block off your calendar

When we attend an in-person conference, part of what makes it special is being away from home, office, and our usual daily routine. We suggest that you do the same for this virtual conference. Let your employers, students, colleagues, and family know that you are immersing yourself in this 3-day conference. We are offering real-time panel discussions and networking events. Get the real-time events that you want to attend onto your calendar first. Then schedule time for yourself to enjoy the pre-recorded presentations.

Using Slack

During this conference, we will be communicating in real-time through a Slack workspace with a variety of Slack channels. If you are not familiar with Slack, check out this tutorial.

Interact with other participants

Encourage friends and colleagues to attend the conference with you. Utilize the comment sections on the pre-recorded presentations to ask questions and create dialogues about various points of view. Schedule 1-on-1 virtual meet-ups with people you meet during our various events. Throughout the conference, a virtual meeting place will be available for you to interact with other attendees at any time. We will be using the platform as discussed in “Conference at a glance”.

Let this event have a lasting impact

After the conference, the presentations will still be available to you. Live events will be recorded and posted for you to watch again. Stay connected to the participants you met while networking. If you are not an IASC member, consider joining and participating in future events.

Create a gravatar for your comments

We strongly recommend that you create a gravatar so that your picture is displayed next to your comments. 

1.  Visit the Gravatar website to sign up. It’s located at

2.  Click on the “Create Your Own Gravatar” button.

3.  Sign up for Gravatar with a account. Or click Already have a account? to sign in. 

4.  Click on the link in the confirmation email. Check your spam folder if you don’t see an email from

5.  Go back to Gravatar and login if necessary.

6.  Click the “Add a new image” button.

7.  Click the “Upload new” button.

8.  Click “Choose File” and pick a profile picture from your computer. Then click “Next”.

9.  Crop your image by moving the box that is overlaid on the image you choose. Then click on “Crop Image” below.

10.  Choose an image rating that reflects the content of your avatar. Then click the “Set Rating” button below.

Be aware that the use of an image that is X-rated will automatically prevent you from using it on a number of websites.

11.  Start using it. When you create accounts on other websites with the same email address and that site uses Gravatar, your profile image should automatically be set to your currently selected profile picture from your Gravatar account. If you change your Gravatar image for your email account in Gravatar, it should update your profile picture on other sites automatically.

Interact Via


When the conference content becomes available, we will provide a link to join the conference’s Slack workspace. Joining will allow you to communicate directly with other conference participants, coordinate meetups, share information, etc.

Interact with other participants in our

Meeting Room

During the conference, you will be able to mingle with other participants in our Wonder Room (from The video below gives a simple introduction on how to use the platform. Once you log into the conference website you’ll find information about the location of the Wonder Room.

Listen and COntribute to our

Spotify playlist

We are creating a conference theme-based Spotify playlist available to all participants. During the conference, you will be able to add songs to the list.