Shaking things up

By Kathleen Merrigan

Still from the 1993 Columbia Pictures film Groundhog Day with Bill Murray

Regrettably, we seem stuck in the same old farm bill battles. While still incredibly important, there is so little new about the legislation and the overall debate. Call me weary, it’s my 6th or 7th farm bill, depending on whether you count that mini corrections farm bill in 1997. Outside of Washington, the food world is swirling, exploding with new ideas. Inside the Beltway, it’s Groundhog Day.

That’s among the reasons why I’m so pleased to be joining ASU, rated #1 for innovation by US News and World Reports four years running. The role of the university, according to ASU President Michael Crow, is to create and disseminate knowledge that drives economic productivity and social progress. His vision of faculty is that we are to be knowledge entrepreneurs. Part of our jobs is to facilitate collaborative and strategic partnerships; help people commercialize ideas; encourage start-ups and spin-offs companies, and work to optimize business models. I love that.

It is a time of intractability in policymaking at the federal level. And while I’ll always be engaged and vocal in federal food policy, I’m excited by and attracted to what is going on in the private sector around food. Right now, the private sector is leading. The ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems will work to connect business leaders with university researchers, think tanks, and policymakers to catalyze market innovations and identify strategies to accelerate positive food systems change.

The ASU Charter, chiseled in granite right outside the door of the nation’s first and most prominent School of Sustainability, is truly inspiring. I’m so thrilled by the commitment to inclusiveness and the spirit of innovation that permeates my new home. I’m thrilled to call myself a Sun Devil!

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