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Developing Leaders for a Healthy and Sustainable Food Future

The UKFS-CDT Academy provides a platform for collaboration, bringing together our doctoral researchers, academic supervisors, and over 70 partners from across government, business and civil society.

The UKFS-CDT Academy is a dynamic learning network that brings together doctoral researchers, academic supervisors, and our associate partners from government, business and civil society organisations. Our doctoral researchers will collaborate with partners in the Academy to co-create and disseminate new knowledge with lasting impact. The co-design of doctoral projects between students and Academy partners is central to the UKFS-CDT Programme. Placements with our Academy partners will provide unique networking opportunities to improve the employment prospects our students and support the transition of graduates into the workplace.

The UKFS-CDT Academy will provide a platform for collaboration between our partners from across academia, business, government and civil society. Our nine consortium partners include: the Natural Resources Institute of the University of GreenwichUniversity College LondonRoyal Veterinary CollegeInstitute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth UniversityCentre for Food Policy at City UniversityUniversity of Sussex, and Brunel University London; and two leading agricultural research institutes, NIAB EMR and Rothamsted Research.

Our 50 associate partners from business, government and civil society collectively provide specialist knowledge and expertise throughout the UK food system.

All Academy partners contribute to the UKFS-CDT in at least one of the following ways:

  • Engage in Academy activities;
  • Help set research priorities;
  • Support the co-design of research projects;
  • Act as research partners in co-designed projects;
  • Provide placementsfor our students;
  • Contribute to UKFS-CDT training activities;
  • Fund/co-fund PhD projects.

The UKFS-CDT Academy provides a networking gateway between our doctoral students, supervisors, and associate partners, creating a unique opportunity for collaboration across academia, government, business, and civil society organisations.

The UKFS-CDT Academy creates an opportunity for our associate partners to work with and nurture the next generation of highly talented and interdisciplinary doctoral candidates. The Academy also provides a platform for interdisciplinary food systems training activities for our associate partners.

The co-design of doctoral project kernels between our students and associate partners will ensure that UKFS-CDT research addresses key challenges within the UK food system in ways that translate into highly relevant knowledge and understanding with lasting impact.

Indicative project kernel themes within the scope of the UKFS-CDT include (but are not limited to):

  • Environmental sustainability of Food Systems (Healthy Environment)
  • Food production, distribution, manufacturing and waste (Healthy Economy)
  • Food Environment, Consumer Behaviour, Diets, Nutrition and Health (Healthy People)
  • Food System Governance and Resilience (Healthy Society)
  • Livestock health and welfare in sustainable food systems (Healthy Animals)

The UKFS-CDT Academy welcomes expressions of interest from prospective partners across academia, business, government and civil society. Please contact Academy Foodsystems This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out more. Prospective Doctoral Programme candidates need not apply to the Academy as membership is integral to the programme.

The UKFS-CDT Academy provides a platform for collaboration, bringing together our doctoral researchers, academic supervisors, PhD students and over 70 partners from government, business and civil society.


This document presents the research priorities for the UKFS-CDT, as of 18/06/2021, derived from a series of three research priority setting events with associate partners of the UKFS-CDT, as well as interested parties from across business, government and civil society. A total of 38 attendees participated in the interactive priority setting events. The six priorities below have been synthesised from the material contributed by attendees across the events. The terminology has, where possible, been maintained to convey the suggestions and discussion as accurately as possible.

These research priorities are intended to: 1) inform the overall direction of the UKFS-CDT programme; 2) provide inspiration for the development of project kernels by academics across our consortium partners; 3) indicate areas of research interest among the Associate Partners of the UKFS-CDT Academy. They are not intended to be prescriptive, nor mutually exclusive! Project kernels are actively encouraged to be cross cutting, addressing several research themes and drawing from multiple academic disciplines. The priorities are not listed in order of preference or importance. Project kernels may also explore research topics beyond the scope of these indicative priorities, but must fall within the scope of the UKFS-CDT and the Strategic Priorities Fund Programme on Food Systems.

Research priority: Sustainable diets and public health nutrition

Associate partners identified ‘sustainable diets and public health nutrition’ as a priority for the UKFS-CDT, including research of relevance to;

  • Accessibility and affordability of sustainable diets
  • Consumer behaviour – including drivers of food choice, consumer preferences, acceptability of novel foods, behaviour change for sustainable diets
  • Dietary transitions – related to consumer choice around meat consumption, plant-based diets, novel proteins
  • Food safety and standards – including foodborne diseases, antimicrobial resistance, chemical contaminants, toxicological risks
  • Food Security

Research priority: Animal health and welfare

Associate partners identified ‘healthy animals’ as a priority for the UKFS-CDT, including research of relevance to;

  • Animal health and welfare – including endemic zoonotic disease surveillance, antimicrobial resistance, parasite reduction, biosecurity, alternative feeds, animal transport and slaughter
  • Livestock production – including factory farming alternatives, grass-based livestock production
  • Livestock imports

Research priority: Education and research dissemination

Associate partners identified ‘education and research dissemination’ as a priority for the UKFS-CDT, including research of relevance to;

  • Improving the dietary and nutrition literacy of consumers – including educating consumers to improve food skills and dietary and nutrition literacy, especially among children and younger generations
  • Improving communication and research dissemination among stakeholders across the UK food system – including increased awareness and understanding of the UK food system and its outcomes and impacts, the role of the media and social media on messaging, the engagement of youth in the digital era
  • Collaborative transformation –engaging stakeholders across the food system as part of the research process, including children and youth
  • Food Labelling – including the effective communication of the environmental impact, animal welfare, and nutritional content of foods.

Research priority: Data and metrics

Associate partners identified ‘data and metrics’ as a priority for the UKFS-CDT, including research of relevance to;

  • Generating new data – including farm level data, genomics, food miles, data transparency and traceability, remote auditing, qualitative data on lived experience of food environments
  • Developing new metrics – including the development of protocols to measure, monitor and compare foods and production systems, carbon accounting, risk assessments
  • Modelling – including the modelling of sustainable diets that are affordable
  • Mapping food systems – including mapping the UK food system and its actors in relation to the global food system

Research priority: Environmental sustainability

Associate partners identified ‘healthy environment’ as a priority for the UKFS-CDT, including research of relevance to;

  • Environmental sustainability – including environmental impacts, biodiversity, climate change, net zero, carbon footprints, resource use (land, water, energy), nitrogen excretion
  • Reducing food loss and waste – including valorisation of waste, upcycling, reduction targets
  • Food production – including sustainable production techniques, repurposing of biomass, regenerative agricultural systems, reducing inputs, food processing (establishing definitions, developing new techniques)
  • Packaging – including materials (plastics, micro-plastics, biodegradable plastics), waste, reuse, recycling, innovation

Research priority: Policy, regulation and power in food systems

Associate partners identified ‘Policy, regulation and power in food systems’ as a priority for the UKFS-CDT, including research of relevance to;

  • Regulatory frameworks, food standards, certification
  • Policy drivers to support the sustainable production of food
  • The framing of policies by actors in the UK food system