Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Joint PhD fellowship supports food policy research 

Tandem postgraduate programme benefits collaboration on sustainable healthy food goals in Scotland and Germany. 

A postgraduate researcher is joining forces with an international collaborator in a joint fellowship that aims to advance public health in their home nations through sustainable nutrition. 

Alexander Vonderschmidt, a PhD student in the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, will partner with Jonas Stehl, a PhD student at the University of Göttingen, under a fellowship award that enables both researchers to work together in their complementary fields. 

Their tandem fellowship programme will focus on ‘Modelling the path to sustainable diets: an analysis of policy interventions and consumer behaviour in Germany and Scotland’.  

It is enabled by the Lower Saxony-Scotland Tandem Fellowship programme, administered through the European Centre for Advanced Studies, which aims to foster interdisciplinary research towards meeting societal challenges. 

The award combines Mr Vonderschmidt’s expertise in nutrition and sustainable food systems with Mr Stehl’s focus on economics and econometrics.  

Both partners hope their research will inform policymaking relating to food and consumer behaviour in their own countries. 

Their one-year project gets under way at a time when Scotland and Germany are attempting to progress public health by legislating for sustainable healthy eating.  

Scotland’s parliament has passed the Good Food Nation bill, a commitment to people taking pride in and benefiting from their food. The German government has adopted a strategy aimed at increasing consumption of plant-based foods and lowering the intake of foods high in fat, sugar and salt. 

The joint research project aims to model the path to sustainable diets in Germany and Scotland through an analysis of policy interventions and consumer behaviour.  

The arrangement benefits from the University of Göttingen’s capability in agricultural economics and environmental policy research, and the Global Academy’s expertise in public health, nutrition, and environmental sciences. 

I’m really excited about this opportunity. The research is very complementary – I’m keen to expand the scope of my PhD and to explore new areas such as econometrics, which I wouldn’t have done without this fellowship. 

Alexander VonderschmidtPhD student, Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Both researchers will aim to develop potential food policies for their countries, taking into account goals and limitations for each. They will meet policymaking officials to ensure that their work has relevance for society. 

They will also model the economic impact of policies on prices and consumer food-buying behaviour using household budget data, and simulate their health and environmental impacts. 

By examining how policy, market forces, and consumer preferences interact, their research seeks to identify drivers of and barriers to the adoption of sustainable diets.  

The findings will inform targeted policies and interventions to promote sustainable food consumption, in support of the environment and public health. 

Funds from the fellowship will allow for exchange visits, enabling scholars to host and visit each other. 

The researchers hope to present reports to both governments at the end of their fellowship, in a year’s time. 

For Mr Vonderschmidt, a German speaker, the partnership represents an opportunity to develop his postgraduate research with an international counterpart, at a moment when Scottish and German governments seek solutions to improve public health through nutrition. His studies are supervised at the Global Academy by Professor Lindsay Jaacks and Dr Peter Alexander. 

By bringing together two institutions with complementary goals, the project gains diverse perspectives, resources, and expertise, enabling the analysis of complex factors shaping sustainable food consumption patterns in both countries.

Alexander VonderschmidtPhD student, Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Related links 

The Lower Saxony-Scotland Tandem Fellowship Programme 

University of Göttingen