Sophia Murphy

PhD Candidate

Research Interests


I am a PhD candidate in the Resource Management and Environmental Studies programme at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, working under Dr. Hannah Wittman. I was awarded a Vanier scholarship and was a 2013 scholar with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. I came to the PhD programme with 20 years of experience as a public policy analyst focused primarily on food systems, food security, and international trade. Most of my work was on multilateral negotiations, working with civil society organizations in the context of United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO). My writing is a mix of academic and policy analysis. I was a member of the UN Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts for two terms, from 2013 – 2017 (reports can be found here). Since October 2018 I have worked full-time for the International Institute for Sustainable Development as an agricultural specialist.

I am bilingual (English/French), and dual national (Canadian/ British), and have lived in Squamish for a decade. I tweet using @foodresilience.

Thesis Title & Description

“Resilient Global Food Security and the WTO: An assessment of adaptive governance”

My thesis focuses on the WTO Agreement on Agriculture. My question is, to what extent does the WTO contribute to resilient global food security? I define resilient global food security starting with the UN Food and Agriculture’s four-pillar definition of food security, comprising supply, access, nutrition and stability. I add three elements: consonance across scales of government; accountability to affected populations and communities; and capacity for reflexive adaptation. I argue that the future of food security will depend more than ever on international trade and ask, do we have a governance structure that is fit for purpose?

Featured Publications

Academic Writing

Murphy, S., & Hansen-Kuhn, K. (2019). The true costs of US agricultural dumping. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 1–15.

“International Trade, Food Security and Nutrition,” in Pritchard, B., Ortiz, R. and Shekar, M. (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Food and Nutrition Security, Routledge, Oxford/New York, 2016. (Book chapter).

Murphy, S. (2015). Food security and international trade: Risk, trust and rules. Canadian Food Studies, 2(2), 88–96.

Burnett, K., & Murphy, S. (2014). What place for international trade in food sovereignty? Journal of Peasant Studies, 41(6).

Policy and Opinion Pieces

“Canada needs a global food policy,” The Western Producer, 3 May 2018

“Government must make good on food promise,” The Western Producer, 23 March 2018

“The end of the WTO as we know it? One can only hope,” 21 December 2017. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), Minneapolis.

“Food Reserves, Climate Adaptation and the World Trade Organization,” (with Ben Lilliston), December 8, 2017, IATP. Minneapolis.

“Looking Back from 2037: How Canada’s Food Revolution Began”, (with Anelyse Weiler), The Tyee, 16 August 2017.