"Diversity is in our science"

April 30, 2021

Written by: Walid Sadok

Diversity is the most important tool of our science. How else can we solve complex world food problems without a diversity of people, perspectives, scientific disciplines and even crops and varieties? How can we design innovative climate-resilient cropping systems for various cultural and socioeconomic contexts without testing a variety of perspectives, ideas and solutions against each other? For us, diversity is the vehicle for the creativity and the freedom of thought needed to address the immense societal challenge of feeding the world sustainably and equitably.

Agriculture has been diverse since its very inception. We owe most of our crops to a breadth of diverse cultures and civilizations, spread out all over the world, which started a domestication process shaped by complex historical, socioeconomical, cultural and even religious and spiritual drivers. The incredible diversity of our crops and foods is testament to the success of that complex human heritage. We got here because of diversity.

We all know that the challenge is far from over. We need diverse perspectives to address layers of complex, multi-dimensional challenges driving food security and equity, and this diversity cannot emerge from a uniform cultural or disciplinary mold. We need diverse crops and varieties to be accessible and thrive everywhere: from the highly productive Midwest, to the arid fields of the Middle-East, from underserved rural areas to underserved inner cities or perhaps, in the future, on the way to Mars. We need a diversity of crops to mitigate climate change, protect the environment, protect cultural identities, provide food security and to remain this pinnacle of human experience: a unifying source of sustenance, enjoyment and appreciation of what nature has to best to offer.

Perhaps more than any time in human history, we need human capital, in all of its amazing diversity, working across differences, with the open-mindedness, empathy and intellectual rigor needed to take on these immense challenges and make the world a better place for everyone. Everyone, for us, includes you.

As educators, scientists, students and citizens of a deeply interconnected world, we want to make sure that everyone, regardless of ability, origin, culture and political, ideological, religious, and sexual orientation feels welcomed and able to make a difference. We hope that you will find here all the resources you need to feel welcomed and appreciated as a unique and valued member of our department. We hope to inspire you to take on the best challenge society has to offer: feeding humanity in all of its diversity.