Affiliates of the Social Responsibility Initiative lead, partner, and/or invest in a number of research and outreach projects focused on the social dimensions of food, agricultural and environmental systems, including:

Food Safety Practices and Attitudes Among Local Food System Actors

This collaborative project conducts systematic research to identify existing scale appropriate food safety practices that can in turn be used to provide and deliver educational outreach to growers and market managers, and inform future scale-based food safety research.  The project utilizes a multi-method approach to gain an increased understanding of consumer perceptions of food safety and attitudes toward approaches based on farm size; develop increased understanding of food safety practices of North Central Region (NCR) states small and medium sized growers and identification of new, testable, farm size appropriate practices used by these growers; increased understanding of farmers’ market managers roles in ensuring food safety; and identification of food safety information needs of farmers’ market managers in the NCR.  Funding for this project is provided by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grants program.

Rural-Urban Interface Farming

This research program investigates agricultural production and change at the rural-urban interface (RUI) or the relatively rural space on the edge of urban areas. Their most recently funded NIFA-AFRI project was "Small and Medium Scale Farm Growth, Reproduction and Persistence at the Rural-Urban Interface:  Balancing Family, Goals, Opportunities and Risks."

Agricultural Risk Analysis Program

OSU's Agricultural Risk Analysis Program (ARAP) brings a multidisciplinary approach to complex issues in the agricultural and environmental sciences.  The program conducts research and education projects on risk analysis and management and directs biological and social science expertise directly on agricultural issues of most concern to consumers and farmers, such as food safety, invasive species, bioterrorism, or genetically modified foods.  To learn more about this program, visit their website.

The Exurban Change Project

This research analyzes economic, social, agricultural, and land-use changes of Ohio's regions and localities focusing on exurban areas. The overall goal is to perform applied research on these topics and extend information gained to local officials, professionals, and interested citizens to support planning and decision-making at the local level. 

Farm Animal Welfare in Ohio

The purpose of this project was to fill the research gap regarding the U.S. population’s views and behaviors regarding farm animal welfare. The project involved focus groups with the Ohio public and producers to develop a survey instrument to assess public attitudes and their determinants. The survey was conducted using a random sample of the Ohio population with a comparative smaller nationwide sample. The project provides the most comprehensive, detailed information on public attitudes and behavior regarding animal welfare across Ohio and the U.S. population to date. 

Landowner Participation in Voluntary Conservation Programs

Starting in 2002, this study has investigated landowner perceptions of, and participation in, various voluntary land use conservation programs. Of particular interest are landowners' feelings about working with federal, state, and local government organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations. This project highlights the importance of trust in the interactions between landowners and program agents. 

The Ohio Survey of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Issues

A biennial survey of rural and urban Ohioans, this study assesses perceptions of food, agriculture, and the environment, and tracks changes in those views over time. The survey has been conducted since 2002. Visit the Ohio Survey's website to learn more and to access a variety of topical reports describing the findings. This year, the questions are focused on local foods and their community dimensions, as well as topical issues related to the environment and farming such as climate change and food safety. Click the link above to see previous year's surveys or click here to learn more about the most current 2012 survey.

The Statewide Study of Collaborative Watershed Groups

This study examines the membership, goals, strategies, and accomplishments of watershed groups in bringing together stakeholders with an interest in addressing non-point sources of water pollution. Beginning in 1999, this research has included repeated statewide surveys of watershed group leaders and members, in-depth interviews with watershed group leaders, and analysis of watershed group documents including grant applications and progress reports.

The Sugar Creek Watershed Project

The Sugar Creek Watershed Project is a grassroots effort aimed at reducing the watershed's sedimentation and fecal-coliform levels. One of their major efforts has involved establishing a nutrient trading program with the Alpine Cheese Company, which was polluting the watershed with massive amounts of phosphorus. Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center scientists partner with the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Wayne County Health Department, and the Wayne County office of Ohio State University Extension in this joint project.  To keep up-to-date on this project and learn more about this project, visit their website.

Alpine Nutrient Trading Program

The Alpine Nutrient Trading Program is a partnership between the OSU Sugar Creek Project, the Alpine Cheese Company in Winesburg, Ohio and the Holmes County Soil and Water Conservation District. It is an incentive-based solution to water pollution that trades credits with farmers who employ conservation measures related to water quality. These measures are inexpensive, improve water quality more than alternative approaches, and have a 15-20 year life. The program also surpassed its goals by 20% in a three year period.