Security to Systems: Why the Change?

Security to Systems: A new name for the next chapter of our story

In September 2018, J-WAFS announced our new name, tagline, and logo:

Since our founding in 2014, the motivation behind our work has been to catalyze solutions-oriented research at MIT that responds to the urgent global water and food challenges that humankind faces.

By awarding early-stage research grants, supporting commercialization efforts, funding and mentoring students, and convening global experts to set international research and policy agendas, J-WAFS leverages the world-class resources for which MIT is known. Our goal? Advance knowledge and innovation to build resilient systems that can deliver safe and adequate supplies of water and food for our changing world.

While our name has changed, this commitment remains. In fact, we think the change in our name from “security” to “systems” even more accurately represents what we do.

The term “systems” implies complexity and interdisciplinarity. Applied to the water and food sectors, it casts a wide net that encompasses infrastructure analysis, economic development strategies, policy, and human behavior as well as the innovations in science and technology that lead to new products and improved processes that will make our water and food systems safe, secure, and sustainable. What is more, the comprehensive approach that a systems perspective enables takes into account social, political, and environmental contexts, as well as the human resources that are involved in our water and food systems at every level.

This describes the work that J-WAFS has supported and engaged in.

Our projects emerge out of numerous academic disciplines at MIT, as diverse as mechanical engineering chemistry, and anthropology. J-WAFS’ engagement with a wide range of MIT departments, labs, and centers enables us to address all aspects of the world’s water and food systems. J-WAFS-funded research is driving improvements in:

  • Water safety and supply;
  • Food safety and supply;
  • Agricultural technology—food genetics, fertilizers, irrigation, and packaging
  • The sustainability of food and water systems—and the adaptation strategies needed to respond to climate change;
  • The energy efficiency of our water and food systems,
  • Economic and policy strategies to ensure the resilience of our water and food supplies;
  • And many more.

The variety of problems we tackle and research approaches we support continues to grow, reflecting the need to broadly engage MIT’s diverse research community in order to meet humankind’s water and food needs today and in the future . All the while, our goal stays the same: securing humankind’s vital resources: WATER and FOOD.

J-WAFS: Securing Humankind's Vital Resources