From thesis to theatre

Published on
November 8, 2021

Getting your PhD, whilst performing your thesis. It seems like a tricky combination, but Lara Sibbing combines the both successfully. Last week she has defended her thesis: ‘Cities stepping up the plate. How local governments bring food policy into practice in the Netherlands.’ In a few days she will be on stage again with her own play. But let’s first talk about the serious part.

For her thesis at Wageningen University & Research Sibbing looked into the role local governments play and should play in healthier and more sustainable food systems. She studied the emergence of local food policies in The Netherlands. Sibbing: “Safeguarding healthy and sustainable food is not only a task for the national or European government. Food should be a priority for cities and local governments alike. They operate at close range with their citizens and can therefore make the difference.”

Food strategy Amsterdam, Groningen and Ede

Sibbing discovered that more and more municipalities take healthy and sustainable food seriously and have developed policies to address this. A small but growing number of cities like Amsterdam, Groningen and Ede have even developed a food strategy. They look at the entire food system, from farm to fork. Also they work on short food chains, food education and healthy food environments.

However, Sibbing also found that municipalities, in their efforts to develop food policies, put too much emphasis on the process and the systems approach. As a result they seem to lose sight of the content of their work. This leads to an abstract pile of goals and activities whilst no real choices are being made. These policies often lack concrete targets whilst getting lost in the maze of food systems thinking. Choices have to be made and systems should not be leading in this process. Political courage is therefore needed Sibbing concludes.

Sita and the Hamburger War

How has this thorough thinking evolved into Sibbing’s musical performance Sita and the Hamburger War? Could it be that this is a play that has everything to do with her research and thesis? Sibbing: “When I started studying local food policy I hated the idea that my work would only reach a handful of researchers via a complex thesis. How could I make my research fun and accessible for everyone? I developed an idea and got to work. The result? My thesis was transformed into a modern-day fairy tale with the title Sita and the Hamburger War!”

Lara vertelt Sita Smaakpark.jpeg

In this 30 minute musical play Sibbing tells the story of Sita, who sets off to save her city from a broken food system. On her journey in search of better food governance Sita encounters ‘weak politicians, brave pioneers and everything in between.’ There is live music and the audience can participate in a debate after the show.

Date Wednesday 17 November 2021, 16.30, 18.30 and 19.45 PM (Dutch version)
Location De Stingerbol, Ede