CRFS welcomes new director, Dr. M. Jahi Chappell

Dr. M. Jahi Chappell will be the next director of the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems and W.K. Kellogg Foundation Endowed Chair in Food and Society.

M. Jahi Chappell

We are thrilled to welcome Dr. M. Jahi Chappell as the next director of the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) and W.K. Kellogg Foundation Endowed Chair in Food and Society.  

“MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is very honored to continue to grow and expand our deep-rooted food systems programs under Dr. Chappell’s direction as we support the goals, actions and voices of the new Michigan Good Food Charter,” said Dr. Jude Barry, CRFS associate director and interim director. “Jahi brings a unique blend and level of excellence, both as a scholar and a food systems practitioner, that will certainly strengthen and sustain the work of CRFS and our partners.”  

Dr. M. Jahi Chappell is an internationally-recognized scholar, organizer, son of social workers, and grandson of Michigan farmers.

Dr. M. Jahi Chappell is an internationally-recognized scholar, organizer, son of social workers, and grandson of Michigan farmers. Over the past 20 years, Jahi has researched and advocated at international, national, and local levels for participatory, socially just, and ecologically sustainable agrifood systems that center the voices of farmers, laborers, and the communities they serve. 

Jahi understands the complexity of food systems work as it intersects with community, policy and sovereignty. He has a deep understanding of outreach in communities and the role Extension plays in developing equitable food systems. And, he brings unique applied research skills and an eye for collaboration across disciplines.  

“The outreach experts and action researchers at CRFS have made it an international name in food systems analysis and service. Along with colleagues in the Department of Community Sustainability and Michigan State Extension, the Center is poised to help Michigan’s communities bring the sustainable and just food systems of tomorrow into being today,” said Chappell. “As someone whose family has been in Michigan for generations, I look forward to learning and working together towards this goal with everyone at CRFS!” 

We look forward to Jahi’s leadership at CRFS! Dr. Chappell will officially start at MSU in November of 2022.  

Dr. M. Jahi Chappell’s Bio 

Dr. M. Jahi Chappell is a scholar, organizer, son of social workers, and grandson of Michigan farmers. From 2020-2022, he served as the Executive Director of the Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network, or SAAFON, which offers direct support and organizing for Black, sustainable farmers in the Southeastern United States and US Virgin Islands. Jahi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, both from the University of Michigan.  

Jahi has researched and advocated at international, national, and local levels for participatory, socially just, and ecologically sustainable agrifood systems that center the voices of farmers, laborers, and the communities they serve.

Over the past 20 years, Jahi has researched and advocated at international, national, and local levels for participatory, socially just, and ecologically sustainable agrifood systems that center the voices of farmers, laborers, and the communities they serve. Pursuing this goal has taken him across sectors and continents, including positions as Associate Professor of Agroecology at Coventry University in the United Kingdom, and as Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Justice at Washington State University Vancouver, where he also served as Associate Director of the Center for Social and Environmental Justice.  In the nonprofit sector, Jahi has previously served as the Executive Director of the 46-year-old think tank Food First, and as Senior Scientist and Director of Agroecology and Agricultural Policy at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Additionally, he was a Founding Board member of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI), and is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Agroecology Fund. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Thousand Currents, an international grassroots foundation.

Jahi’s first book, Beginning to End Hunger: Food and the Environment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and Beyond, was published in 2018 by the University of California Press. In it, he analyzed world-unique breakthroughs in reducing hunger and supporting small-scale farmers in southeastern Brazil. Beginning to End Hunger’s scholarly contributions were recognized by the Society of Human Ecology with their Gerald L. Young Book Award. It was also recently cited by the United Nations’ High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition as a primary source for their recommendation to add the concept of people’s sociopolitical power, or agency, as an additional pillar of the FAO’s definition of food security. 

His second book, Agroecology Now! Transformations Towards More Just and Sustainable Food Systems, co-authored with Jahi’s colleagues from the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University, was published in 2020, and is available open-access at https://bit.ly/agroeconow. 

 

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