Wilson Appointed to lead Duke World Food Policy Center in July 2022

 March 1, 2022

Norbert L. W. Wilson, professor of food, economics and community in the Duke Divinity School, will become the new director of the World Food Policy Center (WFPC) and also professor of public policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University as of July 1, Dean Judith Kelley announced today.

Norbert Wilson headshot
Norbert Wilson

Wilson succeeds the WFPC’s founding director, Kelly Brownell, Dean Emeritus and Robert L. Flowers Professor of Public Policy. Under Brownell’s leadership, the WFPC has conducted international work on food and agriculture development, has been deeply engaged in addressing food insecurity locally, and has been involved in a number of prominent food policy issues nationally. Established in 2017, the WFPC aims to foster better public policy across the food system.

Sanford Dean Judith Kelley recognized Wilson as incoming director and Brownell for his leadership of WFPC. 

“The World Food Policy Center – a major research entity of Sanford – is going from strength to strength. Norbert Wilson brings valuable expertise from multiple contexts that will continue to help WFPC improve lives and communities. I am confident that with Norbert’s vision, he will continue to build upon WFPC’s strong foundation. Under Kelly Brownell’s leadership, the center has blossomed, expanded its research and tackled issues related to health policy, social policy, and diversity and inclusion that are core to Sanford’s work and mission. I am thankful for the leadership of Norbert and Kelly,” Kelley said.

“I am grateful for and honored by the opportunity to lead the World Food Policy Center,” Wilson said. “As we observe global and local food markets, we see important spaces for policy analysis and discourse. The World Food Policy Center offers opportunities to engage in these vital discussions and paths to a more sustainable and equitable food system. Kelly Brownell had the vision to create the center to tackle pressing issues of the food system both locally and globally. My colleagues and I at the center will strive to carry forward that vision and extend it into new areas of research and outreach.”

Brownell said of the transition: “I could not be more delighted that someone so visionary, passionate, and capable will be leading the center into its next generation of work. Norbert, along with the strong team currently at the center, will be tackling highly important issues in novel, groundbreaking ways.”

As of July 1, Wilson will hold a joint appointment in the Sanford School and Duke Divinity School. Wilson is also an ordained vocational deacon in the Episcopal Church USA.

Kelly Brownell headshot
Kelly Brownell

“We at the Divinity School are delighted that our colleague Norbert Wilson’s many gifts will be amplified through his work at the World Food Policy Center at the Sanford School for Public Policy here at Duke,” said Edgardo Colón-Emeric, dean of Duke Divinity School, Irene and William McCutchen Associate Professor of Reconciliation and Theology, and director of the Center for Reconciliation. “Norbert’s research spans the fields of food security, theology and ministry, and economic development; his work demonstrates how interdisciplinary capacity enriches our academic research and teaching and allows us to translate scholarly excellence into community service.”

Wilson is president-elect of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA). AAEA is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with members in more than 60 countries.

His research explores food system issues such as food access, equity, choice and food waste. He has published in AEA Papers and Proceedings, World Development, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Journal of Public Health, Food Policy, Agricultural Economics and other publications. He has received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation and the Walmart Foundation.

Before coming to Duke in 2020, Wilson was a professor of food policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (2017-2020). He was also a professor of agricultural economics at Auburn University (1999-2016). While at Auburn, Wilson served as a deacon at St. Dunstan’s, the Episcopal Student Center of Auburn University (2011-2016). He was an economist/policy analyst in the Trade Directorate (2004-2006) and the Agriculture Directorate (2001-2002) of the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) in Paris.

He has taught courses in U.S. and global food policy, charitable foods, and food and health. He earned a Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Davis; an M.Sc. in agricultural economics from the University of London, Wye College; and a B.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Georgia.

About the World Food Policy Center

The World Food Policy Center is a research, education and convening organization. The center’s mission is to advance connected and inclusive food system policy and practice in support of equity and resilience of local to global food systems. In 2017, the center was created with support from The Duke Endowment, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation). WFPC’s work centers on economic development through food justice; root causes and narratives of racial inequity in the food system; the role of institutions in supporting community-led food justice; decision-making, power and benefit in food system governance; local food system analysis; and public health and nutrition. The WFPC produces The Leading Voices in Food podcast series.