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The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

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Helene Gourichon

Prior to completing the MSc Urban Economic Development Programme, I worked as policy analyst at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In this position, I supported central African governments in the analysis and development of food and agriculture policy, particularly in rural areas.

While living and working in African capital cities, I became increasingly convinced of the importance of cities for food and agriculture development. Thus, I decided to focus my career on the emerging but fast-growing trend of urban food policies and the role of local authorities in tackling these issues.

I joined the MSc Urban Economic Development in 2017-18 to complement both my academic background (I had a MA in political science) and my professional experience. The master met my expectations. Thanks to the core modules Managing the City Economy and Public Economics and Public Policy, I gained practical and theoretical skills to analyse city economies as well as to formulate policy recommendations taking into account the various challenges of local development. During the master, I have also appreciated the opportunity to study the economies of both developing and developed cities, allowing a rich contextual understanding of their specificities. 

In addition to the core modules, I had the opportunity to pursue my specialization with the elective module Food and City. This course reinforced my understanding of the role of communities and grassroot movements in the formulation of urban policies.

Finally, the dissertation was a unique opportunity to research a topic of personal interest under the guidance and supervision of an inspiring professor. I studied the role of urban food policies in the development of a sustainable city economy and researched alternative theoretical frameworks.

The master has reinforced my willingness to work on food issues at local level insofar as it helps me to better appreciate the potential of cities in terms of policy innovation and community empowerment.

As soon as I finished my master, I have been recruited by a Scottish Council to develop and implement the first-ever food policy developed by a local authority in Scotland. The policy will aim at tackling the economic, social and environmental issues related to food but will also take food as an opportunity to promote sustainable development. The knowledge obtained from the master is proving really useful in my day-to-day work.