Knowledge for better food systems

Better networking: Your FCRN membership

You may have been receiving our newsletter for years… or you may be brand new - in which case, welcome!

We thought it was time for a taking-stock newsletter to tell you a bit about the FCRN, and show you how you can make the most of being or becoming a member.

We begin with a short summary of what the FCRN actually is and does (we’re much more than a great newsletter!) before moving onto what membership means and the possibilities it gives you. We’ll also tell you about some improvements we’ve made recently and ask for some feedback.

Beyond the newsletter: what is the FCRN?

We are an interdisciplinary and international network operating at the intersection of food production and consumption, climate and broader sustainability issues. Our work aims to foster the informed dialogue and critical thinking needed to build mutual understanding and collective action on food systems sustainability. To achieve this, we do four core things:

  • We inform through our communication activities. In addition to our weekly Fodder newsletter, have a look at our research library, which contains summaries of and links to some 3,500 papers and reports, all fully searchable.
  • We explain interconnected food systems issues. Foodsource, our new online resource provides accurate, clear, accessible, and agenda-free knowledge about food systems and sustainability.
  • We facilitate a member network of engaged researchers and practitioners and provide spaces for them to share information and collaborate – this network spans over 3,000 individuals from over 70 countries – more on membership below.
  • We produce our own integrative research to clarify the state of knowledge on emerging issues of critical concern – have a look at our FCRN publications section.

We are based at the University of Oxford but anyone can join, from undergraduate students to captains of industry, provided you tell us what your interests are on food systems and sustainability.

By building a member network, we wish to create an international community of interest, able to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and nationalities to address complex food systems issues. Of course, a key to the success of any community is participation and mutual support. To this end, we encourage you all to become members and contribute to the ongoing discussions and development of the FCRN network.


Am I an FCRN member?

We start with the most important distinction: if you are receiving this, then you are either a Fodder newsletter subscriber or a full network member.

As a newsletter subscriber, you’re not a member. You receive our weekly newsletter which provides a round up of research, reports and events that have caught our interest in the past week. You can search for and read everything in our extensive research library, as well as the FCRN’s own reports, the blogs and interviews and so forth.

As an FCRN network member, you can do all the above – and much more. How do you know if you’re a member? When applying to join, you’ll have submitted details about yourself and your work/interests. Once approved, this profile is registered on the FCRN website and viewable by other members – but not by non-members.

Should I become a member?

We have over 3,000 members, spanning different disciplines, sectors and stages in their career or studies. As a member you can do any of the following (note that you’ll need to be logged in using the email address and password you used to sign up with. If you’ve forgotten these, just get in touch and we’ll help you out. To make things easier, you can also link your account to your Facebook or Twitter profiles if you have one, allowing you to log in via these accounts):

First, you can get in touch with other members by searching the network member pages. You may want to find out who is working on a similar or complementary topic, or other members in your country. You can contact them via member messaging. We really encourage you to do this – for example we know (from the details you provide when you sign up) that there are many people working on sustainable diets, or on urban food systems, or on insects, aquaculture, or climate smart agriculture… some will be researchers, and others practitioners. By looking for and making contact with people who are working in similar areas you avoid reinventing wheels and stand to gain from one another’s insights.

Second: You can use our Forums to ask questions of one another or raise discussion topics. We have some region-specific forums as well as some general ones. If you’d like to start a discussion topic focusing on a particular issue or region, sign in to the website and make a forum post, or just get in touch with us and we’ll set one up.

Third: you can write a member snapshot. This is an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and your work in no more than 150 words. We then circulate this snapshot in Fodder. Our aim for the member snapshot series to showcase the interdisciplinary nature of the food system and the diversity of things that people are doing, and to help facilitate interactions and networking among members.

Fourth: you can comment on all the reports we publish and all the journal articles or other material we disseminate. Others in turn can add to your remarks, or critique them.

Fifth: You can write a blog. This could be about your work or about a topic that you think is important – or if you’re thinking of developing a research or practical project you could describe what you’re planning and invite feedback or collaborations. If you’d be interested in writing a blog, just get in touch and we can discuss further.

Fifth: You can send us papers or reports you or your team have written. Provided it’s relevant, we’ll circulate in a future edition of Fodder. Be sure to send us the title, abstract, weblink and a short summary of the research and its main points. Note that the summary is different from the abstract and should include a very short accessible description of why the work is important, what it finds, how you went about doing the work and what you think it’s most interesting implications are. Do please contact us if any of this is unclear. We’re also happy to circulate details of relevant jobs, events and so forth. Just email us.

If you’re not already a member, we do encourage you to join. A network is only as useful as its constituent members – the more you use the forums and engage with other members, the more everyone benefits. And, if you are a member, and have forgotten your log in details, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you out.


Latest improvements and future plans

New FCRN member comment alerts

We already have a system of alerting members to new comments or forum questions that members have made. To streamline things we have recently set a default for a round up of comments to go out once a week, which we are entitling New FCRN member comments. If, on reading them, you feel you have something to contribute/disagree with, just log in and add your own comments or questions. You can also change the default to receive an email notification once a day, or if you don’t want to receive any updates at all, you can just opt out. To change go to your profile settings and ‘notification settings’

FCRN news: a new page to let you know what we are up to

We have set up an FCRN news page on the website to let you know what we’re doing. This is work-in-progress because, as a small team, we are faced with a trade-off between telling people what we’re doing, and actually doing it. We’ll be adding to it over the next few months.

The research library – introduction texts to food system issues

The FCRN's Research Library summarises and hosts links to over 3,500 journal papers, reports and news articles representing around 10 years' worth of research and discussion on food systems, climate and sustainability issues.

We wanted to make it easier for people to understand the range of connected issues that make up what we call the food system and its embedded and emergent sustainability challenges. We’ve therefore written a range of introductory texts to the sub-categories in our research library, so as to give you a quick overview of what the issues are and why they matter. Please have a look. If you think our mini-overviews are inaccurate or uneven in some way – please get back to us with your suggestions for improvements.

When looking for things in the research library, note that you can search in any of four ways:

Top level categories: Filter by Food Chain; Food Type; Issues; Theories, Methods and Tools; by the Region discussed; or the literature Source.

Subcategories: Filter top level categories by their different subcategories. For example, in Food Chain stage subcategories include: Agricultural production, Packaging, Retailing, and Consumer stage, to mention a few.

Keywords: For more specific searches or to see related resources browse through the long list of 185 keywords. Some of the keywords you can search for are: livestock systems, agroecology, yields, life cycle analysis, sustainable healthy diets, soils, glass and brewing.

General search box: Carry out an advanced search using any words you choose. The search can cope with typos and can locate related terms and alternate spellings.

Help us out by providing your feedback on these introductions. Do you think there is anything we could improve? We would very much appreciate your input on what we should include or exclude in the texts.