For the Fall 2012 semester I proposed a faculty shoptalk on the topic of teaching through food, since the health benefits of real food and the economic benefits of a sustainable local food system are two of my favorite causes.
I could easily see the value of using food as a theme to connect learning across various disciplines: Nutrition classes look at the nutritional side of food, while biology classes focus on botany or maybe even the science of genetic engineering, journalism students learn to write about food and food science, lit classes could focus on food in literature, art, well, you get the picture.
We ended up making the session a panel discussion.
Here's the session promotional synopsis I wrote. I found a copy as I was cleaning out papers from my office move and figured I may as well share it:
Food—and associated issues arising out of our complex modern food system—is a topic that can (and is) being taught in a multidisciplinary fashion. Food can be approached from many different directions: Economics, marketing and advertising, the environment, health and wellness, public policy and political science, entrepreneurship, sociology, even literature and art. Items to consider when teaching food include: The health benefits of eating “real” food (personally and the societal impacts of poor eating habits), the environmental issues associated with “modern” monoculture and large-scale industrial farming, the benefits of diversified, sustainable biodynamic types of agricultural practices, food security and access to healthy foods (locally and globally), the ethics of food marketing, the cultural aspects of food and society, and the economic benefits of a local food system.
Thereafter, I presented a poster on how to use social media to promote and market a sustainable farm and also gave a couple of conference presentations related to food and farming research I was doing.
Not Everyone Gets Interdisciplinary Education
My subsequent faculty evaluation by the chair advised me to select research and scholarly activity that was more closely related to the discipline of journalism and mass communication.
I guess I should have thought to footnote all the job opportunities students have for careers in magazine journalism related to food, the billions of dollars spent on food advertising, the massive growth in marketing organic food products, the power of food bloggers, etc. etc. etc.
I forget that some people like to live in silos.