Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis and Resolution


Halmos College of Arts and Sciences - Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Elena P. Bastidas

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Urszula Strawinska-Zanko


conflict & crisis management, conflict analysis, food security, public health, public policy, social justice advocacy


This case study explored the impact that food justice advocates had on creating and implementing public policy to provide access to adequate, healthy, and culturally appropriate food for the residents of New Haven, Connecticut. The problem the case study explored is in 2020 food insecurity affected 22% of the residents of New Haven, more than twice the national average. This qualitative case study used grounded theory to analyze the experiences of 31 food justice advocates that were members of a coalition of researchers, food service providers, non-profit agencies, grassroot organizations, and residents tasked with improving the city’s emergency food system. The coalition, The Food Access Working Group (FAWG), valued the participation and contributions of Single-mothers, Blacks, Hispanics, and Latino members with lived experience of food insecurity; members whose demographics were affected by food insecurity at rates above 30%. Through thematic analysis the core category of relationships emerged along with the sub-categories of diversity, lived experience, & conflict. These categories suggested a theory that coalitions can positively affect public policy by forming strong relationships and connections between diverse groups of individuals, institutions, and organizations with similar broad goals who work together to meet those goals despite differences in approaches and philosophical beliefs, and by incorporating lived experience into the framework of their advocacy efforts. The implications of the case study are coalitions that manage interpersonal and intergroup conflict can foster creativity and respond quickly and efficiently to crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.


Erratum Statement: This dissertation has been revised as of February 27, 2024. The previous version is no longer available.