By | Ceren Kaysadi ’14

Inspired by geography professor Bill Moseley’s work in Africa, Stephen Peyton ’13  (Tokyo) signed up for Macalester’s Spring 2012 program in South Africa. Says the geography and environmental studies major, “In geography we focus on looking at the influences of spatial interactions and scale on various structural problems and systems of inequality. Given that approach, the South Africa program seemed like a great fit.”

The program, officially titled “Globalization, Environment and Society: South Africa,” has been active for 15 years, and is “ideal for students interested in people-environment interactions who are seeking a rigorous academic experience,” says study abroad adviser Neela Nandyal. For its next two years the program will be led by anthropology professor Diane Shandy.      

Moseley, who worked with Peyton, says, “Steve for me is an ideal case. You don’t want study abroad to be a separate part of the student experience.” Peyton’s time in South Africa was woven into his academic career, with his independent research project mapping supermarket locations in Cape Town extending into the summer and later becoming the basis for his honors thesis.

Peyton spent months on the streets of Cape Town doing an extensive field study noting market locations and observing the food retail environment. Eventually, he says, “I realized that a map is not a sufficient way to understand how food security manifests within the retail environment of Cape Town.” That realization led him to turn his work into a more in-depth case study.

Since graduating Peyton has co-authored with Moseley an article being considered for the academic journal Food Policy, “one of the leading interdisciplinary food studies journals,” according to Moseley. Moseley also recently wrote an Op-Ed piece in Al-Jazeera about their findings.

As for Peyton, his eventual goal is to study these kinds of food inequity issues in graduate school. His first step, however, is to apply for a Fulbright that would take him back to South Africa. And as for his study abroad experience? Says Peyton, “I think it was a great opportunity to see what’s like to produce some research and share it with a larger academic community.”

October 1 2013

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