Alonso Muñoz, Reach Alliance
Munk One

Munk One alumnus Alonso Muñoz and the Reach Alliance

Alonso Muñoz reflects on his experience as a researcher for the Reach Alliance.

Alonso Muñoz, Munk One alumnus and second year student at the University of Toronto, is already wrapping up his first year at the Reach Alliance. The Reach Alliance is a widely known research opportunity for ambitious students at UofT, but beyond the research itself, Alonso describes the community and mentorship he has found in his experience there. 

Like Munk One, Reach is focused on building interdisciplinary teams. Alonso himself, a Public Policy and International Relations student, is on a team with peers from international business, global health, and sustainability management.

“I’ve learned a lot from each member,” Alonso says. “In terms of different methodologies and perspectives, I’ve gotten to learn different approaches from each field…  They’re all really like mentors to me.” 

Alonso’s team is researching alternative food networks in Jalisco, Mexico. This involves looking at networks of small-scale farmers and their role in enhancing the region’s food sovereignty, specifically in giving communities agency over the production and distribution of food. 

“When I started at Reach as a first year, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my time at university,” Alonso explains. “This seemed like a project that could expose me to a lot of different fields and perspectives and strategies… that’s why I chose it.”

Alonso explains that having an interdisciplinary approach is essential when tackling such complex research, as this kind of project connects to a multitude of perspectives. While research into regenerative farming techniques will show impacts on the environmental health of the region, the team must also understand how this connects to the health of a community with local food production. Each of these perspectives are key to building the true meaning of food sovereignty in Jalisco.

Alonso himself is interested in the policy angle of these food networks. How does the government facilitate or complicate these networks? How do farmers engage in activism and influence policy? While still in the first year of the research project, Alonso is looking forward to what the future might look like for this case study. Alonso mentions that Reach encourages its students to take the project into a multitude of mediums, whether that be publishing in peer-reviewed journals, knowledge translation, cartography, or a workshop series.

Alonso notes that many Munk One students have become researchers at Reach. The research itself is similar in concept to the intervention assignment students complete in MUN105. Reach also focuses on innovation that is advancing specific SDGs, just as students study in Munk One. But beyond that, Alonso points to the goals and values that students learn in Munk One as a driving factor for Reach. 

“Everything that Munk One professors teach about innovation and development are embodied in Reach’s research,” Alonso explains. Impact is at the core of Reach’s mission, as members of Reach are ultimately looking to improve people’s lives, and furthering global alignment with the SDGs. For students connected with those values, and excited to follow solutions related to local challenges and local innovation, Reach has cultivated an explorative and supportive community. 

Current Munk Ones and any alumni are encouraged to apply. Applications for the 2024-2025 cohort close February 11, 2024. Find out more about Reach and the application process here!