Systems thinking in food security research

Format: Papers, RSD9, Topic: Economics & Organisations

Apostolos E. Lydakis, John Darzentas, Jenny S. Darzentas

University of the Aegean

Reference to systems thinking is found in food studies more frequently, and the need for design interventions becomes more prominent as food security research increasingly acknowledges the complexity of the problem space. A systems approach allows a better grasp of the complex interconnections and stakeholders involved. However, the existing variety of approaches based on fundamentally different assumptions could lead to misconceptions, if not made explicit.

The purpose of the current literature review is to enhance the mutual understanding of systems thinking by food security and design researchers, investigating the adoption of systems notions, and uncovering their relevant positioning on the systems approaches spectrum. A three-step method was followed: selecting the papers, organizing them in thematic clusters and visualizing the papers’ timeline succession, and mapping the degree of adoption and sociological paradigm of their systemicity. This process allowed for a more holistic perspective and enabled the emergence of significant issues: the increasing need of food security researchers for a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches; the paradox of disciplinary bias; and the absence of emancipatory approaches. The generated “systemicity map” can serve as a tool for systemic designers to establish a common understanding of systems approaches when working alongside researchers and other stakeholders of food security. Furthermore, considering the map’s topology could help systemic designers locate and prioritize the most “promising” candidates for interdisciplinary collaboration. Finally, the results advocate a pro-innovation bias.

Systems Thinking in Food Security

Citation Data

Author(s): Authors: Apostolos E. Lydakis, John Darzentas, Jenny S. Darzentas
Title: Systems thinking in food security research
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 4 October 2020
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Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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