Virtuous Devil of December 2020

Joan McGregor

Professor of Philosophy, ASU

We’re pleased to award Joan McGregor as this month’s Virtuous Devil! Read what McGregor has to say below:

“I’m honored to be given this award.  

“I was asked to discuss some of my work. In the last number of years, I’ve been increasingly weaving together my community service/ volunteer work and my academic work. Although in the last number of years I been more and more weaving those together. Many of the projects I have organized or participated in grew out of my deep concern for the problems of the disadvantaged, particularly regaining their ability to live flourishing lives. Given my interest in issues of justice and sustainability, I was drawn to the significant problems in the food system which not only has a destructive effect on many minority populations and the poor, but it also is destroying our environment.  

“A few years ago, I put together a group of scholars from ASU and around the country and organized an event called Dinner 204:0 The future of food.  That event brought together over a hundred people from the food system, including policymakers, farmers, distributors, educators and others to discuss the food system. The event was held at Maya’s farm, with local chefs providing food. The event was developed from the idea of a design charette. Each table was asked to envision what they wanted our food system to look like in 2040. They then worked backwards (or back casting) to decide what things that we would need to do to get there. The whole project was framed around protecting five essential values:  Preserving Historical, Cultural, and Place-Based Practices; Sustaining Environmental Integrity; Creating and sustaining a food system that supports health; Building a food system the ensures Food Justice; and Ensuring Food Sovereignty. The event was very successful and led to a number of other community projects, including a version of envisioning a future food system in Senegal with young food entrepreneurs. 

“Currently I’m now working with a consortium of humanity centers on sustainability and justice. My group is partnering with a group in South Africa to design a better food system for arid landscapes. Last year we brought in Alice Waters and we conducted a number of community projects with her. She was incredibly inspiring to everyone.  

“I’m now on the board of Slow Food Phoenix, an international organization dedicated to building a food system that is good, clean, and fair. We engage in a number of programs and events and are working doing advocacy work with the legislature towards building a better food system in Arizona, with a particular focus on getting better food into the schools for kids.  Other food justice work included a collaboration with my colleague Rebecca Tsosie to organize a program called Sustainable Indigenous Food Systems. We brought together indigenous leaders and scholars and to discuss the sustainable food systems for tribal nations at the Heard museum. 

“Other volunteer work includes being a board member for Planned Parenthood of Arizona for a number of years. I’m passionate about women’s access to healthcare which unfortunately continues to be assaulted. Additionally, I served on a school board for a school that my husband and I started 30 years ago.  Dealing with the challenges of k-12 education is always interesting, if not exhausting!”

Click here to learn more about our Virtuous Devil of the Month Awards.

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