IFT is an organization on a mission. We believe that the sum of our parts will propel us forward, individually and collectively, toward a better food future. We are a community of knowledge, a community of action, and a community of science. As we collectively work to solve increasingly complex problems in our food system, we provide an essential space for food scientists and innovators in pursuit of knowledge and discovery to network, collaborate, improve themselves, and advance our profession.
This is why our mission and vision are more than convenient statements on a webpage. They are our common purpose, an evolving legacy inherited from our predecessors and made stronger and more inclusive for those who are the future of IFT. To ensure these statements and the structures created to support them continue to reflect our reality, principles, and aspirations, the IFT Board of Directors, comprised of your professional peers, reviews them on a regular basis. The board engaged in this important work recently.
As a result of a months-long process that included significant research and self-examination, our mission, vision, core values, and the areas of impact that we believe IFT must pursue have evolved, enabling us to extend our reach, expand our community, and work toward more equity in that community.
Our vision is straightforward: “We envision a world where science and innovation are connected and universally accepted as essential to improving food for everyone.”
In order to achieve that vision, we’ve established a mission that will take us there: “IFT is connecting global food system communities to promote and advance the science of food and its application.”
For both our mission and vision, the words were chosen strategically and efficiently. The connectedness and universal acceptance that we pursue in our vision are of fundamental importance. Meanwhile, our mission continues to focus our efforts on communities, advancement, and application. Finally, we will continue to use the “science of food” language we adopted several years ago to be more inclusive of professionals innovating across the food spectrum.
While our mission and vision provide clarity of long-term purpose, it is our impact areas that give us immediate direction and calls to action. IFT is focused on three areas of impact in support of its mission and on behalf of its members and community: 1) Directly support job-related challenges with fast and simple problem-solving tools, resources, and connections; 2) Address global system challenges by leveraging the global network, creating community, and inspiring long-term learning; and 3) Give visibility to what the food future might hold, through forecasting trends, showcasing research, and building innovation networks.
These areas of impact were carved from extensive research that IFT conducted in the past year, gathered directly from current and past members as well as other food system leaders and designed to directly address their challenges. It is these impact areas from which IFT will design a new partnership with its members, creating new shared objectives, and designing solutions that quickly and directly address job-related and career needs. We’re very excited about this way forward.
With our mission, vision, and areas of impact firmly established, the IFT Board of Directors turned its attention to the organization’s core values. Without doubt, an organization’s core values should be reliably consistent over time, and it wasn’t our intent to rewrite these well-established, non-negotiable values. However, we felt very strongly that something was missing. While the statements describing our values of community, integrity, passion, progress, and respect remain unchanged, we agreed that our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion should be enshrined in our core values with a clear statement of intent.
Inclusion is now an IFT core value, adding to the DEI mission and DEI vision that were established three years ago. Inclusion as a core value means that we promise to listen, learn, and invite input from people of all backgrounds. We will create processes to reach shared agreements and pursue equity in our community. Our decisions and actions will be informed by intentionally challenging assumptions, beliefs, and practices that maintain inequity in society and science. This, and all of our core values, are shared by all of us at IFT. They establish a clear expectation and community agreement, and one we must all hold ourselves accountable to.
It is my honor as president of IFT to share these changes with you, this evolution of our past, bridging to our future. I look forward to listening to your thoughts this year as we explore the deeper meaning behind this strategic structure and begin to develop a path forward, anchored by these principles.