TITLE: Using Cooperation Science to Strengthen Local Food Systems
SPEAKERS: Afton Hupper, Taylor Lange, Tim Waring, Local Food Lab, UMaine
Sustainable solutions are not always win-win. The hardest sustainability challenges are social dilemmas in which the best outcome for individuals conflicts with the best outcome for the group. But social dilemmas can be solved when individuals cooperate.
We study the role of cooperation in Maine’s growing local food system. We use cooperation science, experiments, simulations, and stakeholder guidance to determine which factors inhibit or encourage cooperation. And, we work with local food groups to help them better achieve their goals.
In this talk we introduce our collaborative research on food buying clubs and Buying Club Software. Buying clubs are small, quasi-formal purchasing groups who share food orders to meet their needs. Our results suggest that cooperation is vital to the success of food buying clubs, and cooperatives generally. We explain the implications of this finding and share our future research and solutions plans.
Dr. Tim Waring studies how cooperation determines sustainability outcomes. Using economic experiments and agent-based simulations, he builds evolutionary models of social and economic change to learn how sustainable behaviors, and durable institutions arise and persist.
PhD student Taylor Lange has focused his dissertation research on applying principles of group psychology and evolutionary science to assist local food organizations in accomplishing their goals.
Afton Hupper has worked as a research assistant in Dr. Waring’s lab since 2016. She is pursuing a M.S. in Resource Economics & Policy and is interested in working in environmental policy as an advocate or analyst.
For information on the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, go to umaine.edu/mitchellcenter/.