James Vandenberg, MSc


I began my interdisciplinary academic journey with a BA in International Relations and Development from the University of British Columbia, including a year abroad at the University of Amsterdam and an internship at Gender Concerns International in the Hague, where I supported the improvement of political and economic rights for women throughout the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). Next, I completed the 4Cities Joint Erasmus Mundus MSc in Urban Studies, with semesters in Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen, and Madrid, and a thesis which investigated the potential of the sharing economy to contribute to social cohesion.

Currently, for my doctoral research, I am using a complex adaptive systems lens to analyze and assess the resilience of urban food systems. This focus is driven by the looming question, of how food and nutrition security can be ensured for the 10 billion people projected to inhabit earth by 2050, as climate change issues rise in intensity and frequency. Accordingly, I am most interested in the ways in which the social, ecological, political, economic, and technical urban domains interact with one another, and how such drives the systems behavior. I embrace this systems perspective in the realm of ‘food, where I investigate different types of urban agriculture activities, from community gardens to tech driven vertical farms, circular metabolism processes, and the rise of emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, and renewable energies. With this pursuit, I strive to better understand the potential of such phenomena in strengthening the resilience and equitability of urban food systems, and in fostering broader urban sustainability transformations.