People & Planet: Conversation Series

2020 has brought both challenges and change, hurdles and momentum. It’s on all of us to ask: How did we get here? What can we learn? And where will we go from here?

One thing is clear: It’s all connected. Join us for a series of conversations exploring the many intersections of our changing global climate and the human and natural systems that also shape our world. Past topics include the planetary health framework – and the connection between biodiversity loss and emerging infectious disease.

These streaming conversations are free and open to all. You can submit questions in advance during registration, and we’ll also hold time for live Q&A. Please note: While these events are free, advance registration is required to access the Zoom platform. Look for links below to sign-up through Eventbrite.

We hope you can join us! Questions? Ideas? Drop us a line at

Fall 2020 Conversations

Monday, August 31,
12:00 p.m. CST

Photographs of produce composting in fields, juxtaposed with images of sparsely stocked supermarket shelves and lengthy lines at food banks. Meatpacking plants declared essential businesses – and also hotspots of infection. The pandemic has made the vulnerabilities and inequities of our food systems impossible to ignore.

How might we build more resilient, equitable food systems? Join our guests for a conversation exploring this urgent and complicated question. We’ll dig into the continuum of global to local food systems, implications for sustainability in supply chains, and creating a system that serves us all.

This panel’s speakers:

  • Jennifer Schmitt, IonE Lead Scientist who specializes in agricultural supply chain sustainability across the U.S. meat and commodity crop sectors.
  • Kathy Draeger, Statewide Director U of M Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Research includes rural food distribution, local and regional food distribution, and rural grocery store persistence.
  • Chris Fields, President, Fields Produce & Foods Inc *Unfortunately, Mr. Fields had to cancel his participation.
  • Moderated by Melissa Kenney, IonE Associate Director for Knowledge Initiatives and expert in sustainability decision support