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Pilot 2019: Seed Funding Global South - Project Summary

How do we manage food in our everyday life? On Sustainable Food Consumption Patterns in Lao PDR and Germany

  • Department at TU Berlin: Work Studies and Didactics
  • Partner country: Lao PDR
  • Partner institution: Savannakhet University (SKULAO)
  • Mainly addressed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

    SDG   4:    Quality Education
    SDG 12:    Responsible Consumption and Production


How do we manage food in our everyday lives? This complex question relates to issues referring to global challenges, such as: How is our food produced and made available in a hygienic and wholesome way, and what competences do consumers need to make reflective consumer choices? To approach these questions, Prof. Dr. Silke Bartsch and Heike Müller from the Chair of Work Studies and Didactics at TU Berlin want to intensify and expand the existing cooperation with researchers at Savannakhet University (SKULAO) in Lao PDR on sustainable food consumption patterns in everyday life. Their plans were supported with seed funding from TU Berlin for cooperation with partners in the Global South.

Lao PDR and Germany are closely interwoven, for example through the value chains of everyday items such as food products (e. g. coffee, vegetables, herbs) and textiles even though approximately 11,000 kilometers separate the two countries and locals may not have heard of one another.

Focusing on the issue of Sustainable Consumption Patterns (SDG 12), the aim of the research group is to provide consumers with options for action that reflect taking responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the environment, and thus contribute to the Sustainability Goals of Quality Education (SDG 4).

While the research interest of the SKULAO Food Science Faculty focuses on food consumption patterns in everyday life, the project also explores digital educational formats for global collaboration and the reflection of one's own actions in everyday life with regard to sustainability. This holds opportunities for motivating TU Berlin teacher training students to internationally and collaboratively approach global challenges, reducing existing barriers to digital education and for opening up consumer options for sustainable consumption in everyday lives.

Together with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sitha Khemmarath (Vice-President for Research and Post-Graduate), Chandokkham Youyabouth (Acting Vice-Dean Faculty of Food Science) and Maninout Phothirat (Agribusiness-Marketing) of SKULAO, Prof. Dr. Bartsch, Heike Müller and the TU Berlin research group will conduct virtual exchanges between students at TU Berlin and SKULAO in order to strengthen their consumer, sustainability and digital competences and to research appropriate didactic concepts for the subject of work studies. Currently, they are preparing a corresponding application for third-party funding.

The respective situations in the two countries in particular hold great potential for making this cooperation fruitful: In Germany, a large part of society has abundant access to food and a significant amount of food is wasted every day. The availability of food in cities is due significantly to the characteristics of the consumer society with corresponding logistics. Simultaneously, German consumers are generally alienated from the origin of their food. Especially younger generations have little connection to food production, although it provides the essential basis for their lives. While food supply in Lao PDR has increased in recent years, food insecurity remains significant and a particular challenge is to provide urban consumers with food that is grown outside the cities. Preserving processes and food packaging have an important role to play in improving this. Prof. Dr. Silke Bartsch, head of the Chair of Chair of Work Studies and Didactics at TU Berlin is convinced that "changing the paradigms in food consumption for a more sustainable future can succeed best if consumers help to shape the vision and take on action. Education is a key factor for this respect.”  

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