The George Washington University and world-renowned chef, author, and humanitarian José Andrés, HON ‘14, today are announcing a historic partnership to launch a premier Global Food Institute at GW, a transformative and unprecedented collaboration that will be the world leader in food system solution delivery.
GW is uniquely positioned to drive global progress in the food space, thanks to its location in the heart of the nation’s capital, depth of academic expertise across countless disciplines, track record of leading critical conversations in the public and private sectors and partnerships with global influencers from the White House to the World Bank.
“In the George Washington University’s third century, we are focused on accelerating the positive impact of our interdisciplinary scholarship on society, including through innovative partnerships with visionary leaders,” said GW President Mark S. Wrighton. “We are thrilled to establish in partnership with José Andrés the Global Food Institute—a center that will create new knowledge and shape national and international progress on food system issues.”
Driven by Andrés’ vision of changing the world through the power of food, the Global Food Institute at GW will work to transform people’s lives and the health of the planet, taking an interdisciplinary systems approach across three main pillars: policy, innovation and humanity. The institute will enable faculty and students from every school and college, industry leaders, policymakers and renowned experts to work and teach across these pillars, producing cutting-edge research to create and improve domestic and global food policies, incubate and engineer innovative new technologies and entrepreneurial spirit and lead critical conversations about the impact of food on the human race.
“Our global food system is experiencing a crisis, brought on by systemic inequities, rampant hunger and poverty, the climate crisis, and deteriorating public health and nutrition,” said Andrés. “But food has the power to solve problems: it can rebuild lives and communities, heal both people and the planet and create hope for the future, but only if we think bigger. The Global Food Institute will reshape how we think about food, break down barriers across industries, politics, and nations, and inspire and empower the next generation to develop systemic solutions that reshape the food system.”
Over a decade ago, GW and Andrés introduced the interdisciplinary course, “The World on a Plate: How Food Shapes Civilization,” forging a fruitful academic partnership that fueled ambitions for much greater impact.
“GW has a 200-year track record of exceptional academic collaboration and interdisciplinary research and teaching. Our location in the heart of our nation’s capital makes it the ideal place for the brightest minds across disciplines to convene, develop innovative research and solutions and educate the next generation of advocates to drive the food systems change we need,” said Christopher Alan Bracey, GW’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
Critically, the Global Food Institute will prioritize educating and training future generations of diverse leaders spanning many careers who will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to approach their professional and academic pursuits through the lens of food and help create food solutions of tomorrow.
“The Global Food Institute will be a lively hub of research activity, leveraging a number of disciplines across the university,” said Pam Norris, vice provost for research. “Their collective work will inform evidence-based policy that centers food as a solution for some of our most pressing problems.”
A founding gift from Andrés made the Global Food Institute possible, and the institute’s work will be powered by philanthropy and supported by partnerships with organizations, companies, foundations, and individuals. A significant contribution from the Nelson A. and Michele M. Carbonell Family Foundation will endow the Executive Director position. The Rockefeller Foundation has also committed financial support for the Global Food Institute.
“We are incredibly honored by—and grateful for—the generous support from these visionary donors that share our aspirations to solve these seemingly intractable challenges,” said Donna A. Arbide, GW’s vice president for development and alumni relations. “It is testament to GW’s unique strengths and commitment to changing the world for the better that they chose to invest in our university to spearhead this initiative.”
Mr. Carbonell, a 1985 GW alumnus, chair emeritus of the GW Board of Trustees and 2021 honorary degree recipient, and his wife Michele strongly believe in the urgency around the Global Food Institute’s work and look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks.
“The time is right to embark on the changes to food issues that the world needs,” said Carbonell. “The multidisciplinary nature of the Global Food Institute is unparalleled, and Michele and I hope our gift provides the financial underpinning for GW to hire a proven leader to run it.”
With initial funding and official charter in place, the institute will in the coming months advance several critical operational items. It will launch a search for the Executive Directorship, identify additional leadership, staff and affiliated faculty, identify physical space and begin to develop engagement opportunities for the community and potential partners.
GW will host a launch event this evening at the university’s Jack Morton Auditorium for institute partners and university leadership. Information about the Global Food Institute can be found at globalfoodinstitute.gwu.edu.