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University of Leeds Offers Studentship on Social & Environmental Impact of Alt Proteins

The UK’s University of Leeds is collaborating with GFI Europe to offer a studentship addressing the question, “How will alternative proteins affect people and the environment in the UK and Europe over the coming decades?”

The interdisciplinary PhD project is said to be suitable for an academically excellent, impact-focused candidate. Applicants must have an excellent, relevant undergraduate degree, along with a passion for sustainable food systems and proven quantitative and communication skills.

The project will seek to address three queries within the main overarching question:

  • How are different alternative proteins likely to be accepted in different European contexts?
  • How could European demand for different proteins change up to 2050?
  • What would the social, economic, and environmental impacts of meeting this demand be?

The aim is to find tangible, easily communicable results that could transform policy and industry development. The chosen student will undertake a three-month virtual ‘Research in Practice’ placement with GFI Europe.

University of Leeds
© University of Leeds

“Highly scalable solution”

The studentship is offered as part of the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership, a collaboration between several universities in the North of England. It can be held full-time or part-time.

In recent years, several universities worldwide have begun offering courses in alternative proteins; last November, the US’s Tufts University announced what was claimed to be the world’s first undergraduate degree in cellular agriculture. In 2021, the National University of Singapore launched an alternative proteins course, and another Singaporean university, Nanyang Technological University, introduced a similar course just months later.

“Alternative proteins (APs) have lower environmental impacts, offer public health benefits, and could be a highly scalable solution that offers consumers continued access to familiar tastes and dishes,” says the University of Leeds. “However, the growth of APs has not been universally welcomed, being described as a technological solution that fails to address the complex social, economic, and cultural factors associated with food production and consumption. Further, the social, cultural, economic, and ecological transformations that could result from a widescale shift to APs are understudied.”

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