Areas of Interest
Food Systems, Sustainability Transition, Urban Politics, Policy Innovation, Collaborative Governance, Urban-Rural Linkage

Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning
Urban and Regional Planning

Dissertation Title
Opportunities and Challenges for Transformative Planning Efforts to (Re)build Regional Food Systems: A Case of Public Food Procurement Program in Seoul, South Korea


/ PhD Student

Seulgi Son

Seulgi is a Ph.D. candidate in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan. Through the lens of food systems, she is interested in understanding the process of sustainability transition and governance structure to promote social innovation, particularly when scaling grassroots initiatives up from niches. Her current study focuses on planning efforts to improve food systems sustainability and the urban politics that underpin transformative food movements.

Her dissertation examines the prospects and obstacles for a public-led initiative to construct short, direct food chains in establishing a more equitable and sustainable regional food system using the example of Seoul’s pioneering public food procurement program. Her doctoral research looks into using place-based public food procurement as a catalyst for permanent changes in traditional food production, distribution, and consumption by connecting urban and rural communities through the circular economy and incentivizing sustainable food practices.

Seulgi believes that tackling major global challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation may begin at the dinner table, with food serving as a key channel for individuals to connect with the webs of different societal/ecological components. She graduated from Seoul National University with a B.A. in Anthropology, summa cum laude, and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning before pursuing her PhD.