Jill Guerra

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With a background in international development, economics and Latin American studies, Jill has long been studying issues of poverty, inequality and sustainable development – both in the classroom and in the field. In recent years her research focus has narrowed in on the role of the food system in improving, or sadly exacerbating, instances of poverty and inequality around the world.  Taking a social-ecological perspective and guided by tenets of food sovereignty and agroecology, her work highlights the connections and trade-offs between social and economic well being like food security or sustainable employment and the challenge of achieving agro-environmental sustainability. Her Master’s research within the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability probes these connections and trade-offs. Through a case study of Brazil’s National School Feeding Program (Programa Nacional de Alimentação Escolar – PNAE), Jill’s research explores how the incentives within the PNAE can improve the wellbeing of the country’s often marginalized family farmers while also encouraging their transition to organic agriculture and/or agroecology – systems of farming intended to be more environmentally sustainable. Her research employs mixed methods analyzing Brazilian agricultural census data while adding important nuances through in-depth, qualitative interviews conducted with a sample of farmers participating in the program. She hopes that her interdisciplinary research will contribute to growing sustainability literature highlighting the challenges and opportunities for creating a more sustainable and just food system.

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