Envisioning a world without hunger
Feinstein World Hunger Program celebrates a decade of achievement
The World Hunger Program at Brown University unites scholars, policy makers and social and environmental action programs through its unique interdisciplinary study of hunger, and has demonstrated steps everyone -- at the grassroots level as well as at world summits -- can take to reduce hunger and eliminate its causes.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Ten years ago, Brown University entered into an extraordinary partnership with R.I. philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein. Together, they launched the Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Program, a university center for research and teaching uniquely dedicated to reducing hunger and eliminating its causes.
The program's model philanthropic-university alliance is based on a small but energetic faculty core who have defined "hunger" as an interdisciplinary academic field. A decade ago, different academic disciplines, sectored policy makers and social or environmental action programs each addressed hunger issues in their own terms. In its first year, the World Hunger Program defined and linked these different understandings of hunger into a single framework that successfully mobilized and merged the interests of those who study famine, poverty, nutrition and human values.
Through this fundamental achievement, the World Hunger Program has raised international awareness that although hunger is a multifaceted dilemma lacking a simple solution, there are steps everyone - at the grassroots level as well as at world summits - can take to make a difference.
For its own part, the program tries to make a difference by balancing research and education with service and action:
The World Hunger Program also develops and disseminates educational resources:
- Research tracks hunger trends through biannual Hunger Reports and analyses of population, environmental, social, nutritional and technological factors;
- The annual Hunger Research Briefing and Exchange draws some 150 hunger academicians, policy makers and field practitioners to Brown University to build "alliances against hunger";
- The Hunger Collection makes available a library of more than 2,000 volumes;
- The HungerWeb, an award-winning library on the World Wide Web (http://www.brown.edu/Departments/World_Hunger_Program/), attracts nearly 10,000 contacts weekly. Users can link to international sources of information and to workshops, research, publications and guides produced by the program. The home page is organized by "research," "advocacy and policy," "education and training" and "fieldwork."
- Sixteen interdisciplinary courses scrutinize and connect ecological, political, economic, cultural and nutritional approaches to hunger. Some involve community service, enabling students to learn through experience while helping the hungry;
- Training and education extend beyond the university. The program's faculty and library collections facilitated the development of a middle-school curriculum, "World Hunger Awareness, Affinity, Action," that is distributed nationwide.
- Interns from Third World countries carry out research projects and return to their home countries to implement programs against hunger.
Those resources add substance and value to Feinstein's original idea - an annual awards ceremony to recognize exemplary efforts of individuals and organizations active in the fight against hunger. The World Hunger Program links award winners to an international network of fellow activists and researchers and provides a forum in which to share ideas.
All enhance the value of the Feinstein Hunger Awards, which not only recognize exemplary efforts of individuals and organizations active in the fight against hunger, but through the program link recipients to an international network of fellow activists and researchers and provide a forum in which to share ideas.
This network continues to be crucial to the World Hunger Program's international policy and advocacy effort to end half the world's hunger by the end of the 20th century. The initiative has involved individuals from the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, Third World nutrition institutes, journalists and ordinary citizens. In the process, the World Hunger Program itself has become a kind of non-governmental organization that contributes actively to food and nutrition policy and actions, and to which international organizations look for research, ideas and networking that literally and practically link the "summit" with the "grassroots."
Ten years ago there was no hunger program. Today, it provides those working against hunger with a common point of reference at Brown University. Project by project, World Hunger Program researchers are strengthening knowledge and action networks that can better identify hunger violations and mobilize corrective actions and are widening the scope of caring for the hungry from family to community, to region, state and globe.
Today the program struggles against a global environment that has shifted from relative optimism and openness to cynicism and pessimism. It works in an environment that frames hunger more narrowly and submerges it in vaguer concepts of "human development" or "caring." Among those surroundings and in the face of "compassion fatigue," the World Hunger Program continues its mission of ending hunger through research, resources and recognition.######
95-125 Recipients of the 1996 Feinstein World Hunger Awards
95-133 USDA official to address Hunger Briefing and Exchange