On Saturday, October 5, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., undergraduates, graduate students, K-12 teachers and their students, as well as faculty and staff who are supporting their efforts, will come together at Middlebury College in the McCullough Social Space for an extraordinary symposium. Our purpose is to explore the ways that food studies can foster uniquely transformative educational experiences and build unusually powerful and connected communities of learning and practice, especially in under-served areas.
The symposium will feature a remarkable group of educators, students, and community leaders who are working to create an institutional framework for sustaining food education in several regions of our country and Canada.
Middlebury FoodWorks: For the past two summers, Middlebury College undergraduates have served as interns for Louisville entrepreneurs and activists committed to making sustainable food a centerpiece of the city’s identity. Mentored on site by a teacher from Louisville’s Fern Creek Traditional High School, these students have embraced the opportunity to learn by doing—to gain first-hand experience of food production, politics, economics, and practice as an important complement to their studies at Middlebury. In 2013, the program expanded to a second site in Vermont.
Bread Loaf School of English and the Navajo Kentuckians: Two English teachers at Fern Creek Traditional High School who are graduate students at the Bread Loaf School of English, as well as leading members of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network, have joined in a collaboration with the FoodWorks mentor to develop linked courses in food literacy and digital story-telling. These courses provide at-risk students with particularly powerful tools not only for learning about food but also about argument, narrative, and language. Supported by leading Louisville foundations, endorsed by the Smithsonian, and applauded by school administrators, their efforts have extended to the Navajo Nation. Together, they are the ‘Navajo Kentuckians’ with the shared purpose of becoming creative and literate advocates for socially just and sustainable food practices.
“Cultivating Food Literacy” will use the Louisville model as an important starting point to build vital connections across classrooms and cultures; model ways of bringing sustainability into and out of the classroom; and develop inclusive learning communities that produce better eaters, readers, and citizens.
Our long-term goals in developing these programs are ambitious. Although Middlebury College is primarily an undergraduate institution, our graduate programs and 30 schools abroad, along with the Middlebury internships program and the Bread Loaf Teacher Network, give us the infrastructure to develop a truly global program in food literacy and food studies. Those involved in this project see food education as an important way to increase the literacy of students from K-12 on and to effect sustainable social and educational change.