Saturday, August 11, 2007

"Food for Thought" at Kenyon College

In about 11 days, my eldest daughter is heading off for her first year at Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio. Remembering those heady days of perusing a course catalog and trying to decide what classes to register for, I was ... well, perusing her course catalog and deciding what I would take if I could go back to college now. I discovered to my joy that Kenyon offers a special cross-disciplinary, multi-course initiative that explores food, farming and rural life. It's called Food for Thought. Here are some outtakes from the catalog:

Understanding our food sources raises many questions of national and global significance. How will rising petroleum costs affect the availability and cost of food? What is the impact of current farming practices on the environment? How do the cultural meanings we associate with food influence eating habits? Does the loss of small landholding farmers diminish the foundation of a democratic society? ...

Much of the work accomplished in these courses will contribute to an ambitious public project to build a sustainable market for foods produced in and around Knox County. Students and faculty are conducting research on local food supplies and consumer buying habits, developing a local food warehouse and retail outlet in Mount Vernon, and creating exhibits to raise public understanding about the many ways our food choices affect us as individuals and as a society...
Courses in the program include practical issues in ethics, sustainable agriculture, solar energy, photography, American culture and the environment, anthropology of food, and introduction to environmental studies.

By taking three courses, completing a summer internship on a farm that uses ecological production methods, and attending workshops and conferences, students may receive The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)-Kenyon Certificate in Ecological Agriculture. This program:
... gives students the opportunity to develop intellectual skills and practical knowledge regarding food and farming systems. Students will (1) develop an understanding of the complex nature of agroecosystems, (2) critically analyze the social, political, and economic institutions in which food and farming systems are embedded, and (3) explore the interplay of social values, personal responsibility, and the achievement of environmental and community goals.
For additional information about Food for Thought, visit the Kenyon Rural Life Center Web site.

If I could go back to college with my current life experience and passions, this -- at least in part -- is what I would be doing. There's no doubt in my mind about that.


Beth said...

Pen - How wonderful about the trip to Oregon! Way to go!

I'm vicariously excited about P starting college. Caiman is going to be in Berkeley High's 'School of Social Justice & Equality' (the school has evolved so that their are six "small schools" within the comprehensive high school). SSJE's curriculum centers around environmental and social justice issues and involves community service projects. Sounds really great, but soon enough we'll see if it lives up to it's promises.

Still loving this blog. Keep up the great work!

Penny said...

That sounds fantastic! Keep me posted on the program, and good luck to Caiman in high school!