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Justin Ebert and Nicholas Maodush-Pitzer ACF Abstract FY13

"Sustainable Impact: The Challenges of Creating Courses on Food, Food Systems, and Food Justice to Empower Students to Action"

Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2012: Investing in the Future

When looking to de-silo the often-segregated, triple-bottom line of sustainability, food seems the ideal course subject to broaden understanding. The class was formulated with a three-tiered structure  where our food comes from, the choices we make, and the waste and excess  the class was designed to explore food systems locally, regional, nationally, and globally; and investigated the environmental, economical, and cultural aspect of each of the three areas. Over the course of two semesters, these students began to see the Herculean tasks involved with understanding our food systems. From readings to dialogues, from projects to papers, from watching films to cooking meals, the class attempted to explore an enormous range of issues. Engaging with traditional in-class lectures, service-learning activities, movie nights, and cooking together; high-impact practices and experiential learning were pivotal to the methodology and success of the course  as was the active partnership with the universitys sustainability office. From the impact on their diet, to the way they handle waste, to their greater involvement with sustainability initiatives both on and off campus, this class engaged students both in and out of the classroom and had a campus-wide impact. This presentation openly discusses all aspects  good, bad, and ugly  of this incredible journey from the perspectives of the faculty member that envisioned the course, the students who took it, and the sustainability project manager that facilitated a variety of opportunities, in hopes that others will develop similar courses to move toward a more sustainable future.