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Research in Italy: Exploring Expo Milano 2015

By: Alana Stein, Major: College Scholars with Emphasis in Food Security from Sociopolitical and Chemical Perspectives, Class of 2016

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Me above the Expo with the Italian Pavilion and the Tree of Life in the background

In September of 2015, I had the opportunity to travel to Milan, Italy to collect data for my thesis research. My honors thesis examines the representation of social justice and food security in the 2015 World EXPO Milano “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” This World Expo, also known as the World’s Fair, was the first to ever be focused on the theme of food. The Expo took place from May to October 2015. Through a research grant and Ready for the World grant provided by the Chancellor’s Honors Program and additional support provided by the Baker Center, I was able to spend four days at the Expo and then attend a Model United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Conference in Rome, Italy.

I am a senior majoring in College Scholars with Emphasis in Food Security from Sociopolitical and Chemical Perspectives. I am a member of both the Chancellor’s Honors Program and Baker Scholars Program. Finding a thesis topic that interested me was a high priority during my sophomore and junior years, since I knew that I was enrolled in three different programs that required a thesis. I struggled to find a topic that was feasible and interested me. At one point a friend told me about the World Expo in Milan, and I knew immediately that it interested me. From there, I began developing my research question: Would the World Expo promote food security and social justice, and, if so, how and by whom would it be done

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The French Pavilion

The Expo was a completely immersive experience. I took very detailed notes and photos in order to use as data. My project involved analyzing 25 different pavilions. These randomly selected pavilions represented how different countries, corporations, groups of countries, and non-profit organizations believed we should be working to feed the planet. Each pavilion was its own building, some of which spanned multiple floors. Inside the pavilions, I found many different perspectives on how we should be tackling hunger. Unfortunately, not all of the pavilions addressed the Expo’s theme of feeding the planet and, instead, focused on self-promotion and other themes. Some of the prominent themes I observed included environmental sustainability, creating equality, and women’s empowerment.

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Inside the Angolan Pavilion

Attending the Milano Expo 2015 was truly a once in a lifetime experience, as the exhibition was only in place for six months. The Expo provided me with a unique opportunity to do my thesis research on something that I am truly passionate about while also allowing me to explore how many different countries and organizations believe we should eradicate hunger. This experience has prepared me for more in-depth study in graduate school. Viewing food security through the many perspectives of these varying organizations allowed me to see a broader perspective of my studies than what I previously could have experienced in a classroom.

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