top of page

Ph.D. Position

Representing Sustainability: foundations for an ontology of farm-to-fork food systems

08 November 2021

Starting Date:
01 January 2022

The REPRESENTING SUSTAINABILITY project will establish a collaboration between the University of Milan and the International Center for Food Ontology Operability Data and Semantics (IC-FOODS) in Davis, California (USA), with the aim of developing new models and conceptual strategies for representing sustainable food chains in the data sharing networks. The PhD student will work in co-supervision with Prof. Andrea Borghini (UniMi) and Dr. Matthew Lange (IC-FOODS). The PhD fellowship falls under the Mind, Brain, and Reasoning Ph.D. program at the University of Milan. It will aim at individuating the fundamental concepts to be used in the ontologies that underlie artificial intelligence. As such, it will constitute the preparatory task for the standardization and representation of those food chains that promote sustainable development, the conservation of specific ecosystems, and biodiversity. The project is interdisciplinary in nature and will contribute to the broader operation led by IC-FOODS whose purpose is to develop easily accessible ontologies across farm-to-fork food systems  sourced from traditional, regulatory,  and scientific knowledge. The Ph.D. student will work in the highly interdisciplinary environments of Culinary Mind and IC-FOODS, working with scholars with various backgrounds whose research fields include philosophy, social and health sciences, semantics, AI/ML, mathematical and ontological modeling. Working closely with experienced researchers who are integrating new and existing knowledge across Environment ⇔ Agriculture ⇔ Food Production ⇔ Diet ⇔ Health systems, the student will will work with researchers paying particular attention to environmental, social, and health issues in the local, regional, national, and global perspectives. 



  • Possession of a Master’s degree.

  • Strong writing skills.

  • English is the main language of the PhD program and fluency in English is expected.

  • Interest in both theoretical and formalized approaches to concepts.

  • Strongly preferable: familiarity with food ethics or formal ontology.

  • Preferable: acquaintance with themes and problems of: analytic metaphysics, logic, philosophy of biology, food science, sustainability science, computer/information sciences, history and philosophy of science, philosophy of language, environmental philosophy, political philosophy, sociology, anthropology. 


Application materials

  • CV, including (if applicable) a list of academic publications.

  • Application form.

  • PhD research outline (min. 2000, max. 4000 words).

  • Cover letter. 

  • 1 letter of recommendation.


For all details and to apply, please visit this page: <>. 

For questions and additional information, please contact:  <>. 

bottom of page