Food and Water

Project: Food Paths Project

Principal Investigator(s): J.A. English-Lueck (SJSU); Chiara Cecchini (Food Innovation Program) and Sara Smith (Future Food Lab, Institute for the Future)

Client/Partner: Food Innovation Program, University of Bologna; Future Food Lab, Institute for the Future

Summary: We have engaged in a multiyear project that evolved out of a funded project with the Institute for the Future and the Google Food Lab. The San Francisco Bay Area practices a distinctive food culture that is connected to its agricultural and immigrant past and present.  Culinary fusions, food innovation, urban farming and craft food production flourish in corporate cafes, restaurants, food tech startups, and resident networks.  The legacy of social movements in the region link food production, preparation, consumption and waste management to the notion of “eating for good.”  Such efforts are captured ethnographically, curated and disseminated to our partners.  One partial product of this collaboration has been the documentary, Food Makers, which was recently shown at the film festival, Cinema Italian Style in San Francisco. Students have presented their data at the Southwestern Anthropological Association.

Funding: N/A, Future funding possible 

Timeline: 2017-2020

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for individual undergraduate student projects and graduate MA projects. Contact J.A. English-Lueck (

Student Researchers: Anthropology 107, Eating Culture, the Anthropology of Food, undergraduate students from 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.  Additional related work done by Ella Babin, Cheryl Cowan, Clemy Bebb, Tim Rodriquez, Veronica Rodriguez, Ashley Estrada and Milton Canas-Chinchilla.

Project: Reengineering Nature in Silicon Valley

Principal Investigator(s): J.A. English-Lueck (SJSU)

Client/Partner: Silicon Valley Cultures Project

Summary: This project is primarily an academic research project, although it has implications for the forecasters at the Institute for the Future and the Food Innovation program.  Building on more than 25 years of ethnographic inquiry into the cultures of Silicon Valley, the project looks at the lives of workers who participate in the countercultural and artistic life of Silicon Valley, and the research, design and implementation of food, ag, and clean tech endeavors.  Internet of Things and Virtual Reality technologies combine sensors and versions of lived experience.  These researchers are interviewing artists and engineers, community advocates and designers to better understand how they merge their distinct visions of the future with the work they do. What values are these workers bringing to their work? Geography faculty Kerry Rohrmeier is collaborating with English-Lueck to explore the relationship of Silicon Valley to Burning Man.  English-Lueck is also teaming up with interested alumni, undergraduate and graduate researchers, and Mass Communications faculty Tina Korani to document these stories.  The project will result in an academic production such as a book and article, and a co-authored innovative virtual reality installation and proceeding article for the Southwestern Anthropological Association meeting and other venues.

Funding: SJSU RSCA, Carnegie Pending

Timeline: 2018-2021

Student Opportunities: There are opportunities for individual undergraduate student projects and graduate 280 and MA projects. Contact J.A. English-Lueck (

Student Researchers: Ella Babin, Cheryl Cowan, Jillian Ferini, Ian Torres, Andrew Marley, Daniel E. Maldonado, Kevin Kochever, Jasmine Low, Melanie Bailey, and Christophe Gonzales.