World hunger is a pressing issue, yet its causes aren’t fully known and there is much debate about what responsibilities developed countries should have in ending it. Daniel Knishkowy ’13, a recipient of a 2011 Emerson Summer Grant, will explore the issue of world hunger with Associate Professor of Philosophy Katheryn Doran for their project, “World Hunger: The Debate About its Causes and the Scope of Our Ethical Responsibilities.”
Knishkowy’s project takes an honest look at the science of food hunger and its technical causes. He will investigate whether there is a food shortage in the world, or if hunger is a result of poor distribution of otherwise sufficient resources. At the same time, Knishkowy will examine the ethics of world hunger, and what richer countries’ responsibilities should be toward ending it.
Professor Doran approached Knishkowy about the project after his participation in environmental ethics, an environmental studies-philosophy cross-listed class. As a philosophy major, the course opened Knishkowy’s eyes to a more scientific way of thinking, and he looks forward to merging the science of hunger with the ethics behind it.
Knishkowy’s project is especially relevant today, as the world faces climate change as well as changes in food production and distribution. Food concerns people not just for survival, but on an ethical, social, and economic level as well. Knishkowy plans to look at different attitudes toward food from varied perspectives. For example, he is examining the trend of vegetarianism and how it correlates to higher socioeconomic classes. While some people only want to consume environmentally friendly foods, those who face poverty do not care much about where their food comes from.
To conduct his research, Knishkowy spends a lot of time reading books, articles, following blogs and examining the UN Food and Agriculture Report. Ultimately, he will compile his findings in a paper. Knishkowy relates that he finds this type of work highly enjoyable, as he gets to devote his time to exploring a topic that he is interested in, yet did not know much about. He looks forward to the discovery process and the experience of writing a paper for more than just a grade.
Throughout his research, Knishkowy has discovered surprising statistics and facts about world hunger and food production. For example, he encountered one statistic which states that it takes 16 times more resources to produce enough meat for a meal than it would to produce the same amount of protein substitute. While this statistic certainly appears impressive, Knishkowy remains aware of potential biases in everything he reads.
In his free time, Knishkowy enjoys listening to music, spending time outdoors, traveling and hiking.
A closer look at world hunger reveals that the issue is never one sided. In fact, the ethical implications and the explanations for world hunger are varied and complex. However, Knishkowy and Doran hope to pry apart some of the confusion surrounding world hunger and arrive at a cohesive statement combining science and ethics.
Daniel Knishkowy is a graduate of Hall High School West Hartford, Conn.