Food - Integrative Pathway
Despite the centrality of food in our lives, never before have there been fewer farmers, higher rates of diet-related illnesses, and greater inequalities when it comes to food access. At the
same time, there is growing interest in sustainable food production and culture in response to the current system. The Food Pathway provides a hands-on experience in which students learn about and participate in the agricultural process from seed to harvest; the journey of food from the farm to the plate; and from policy creation to implementation. The culture of the table and the art of cooking will be explored along with the biology of eating and the chemistry of cooking.
Students in the Food Pathway will examine how existing and historical food systems function in relation to the surrounding environmental and cultural landscapes. Through experiential, community-based learning, students will define and assess the responsible use of resources such as land, water, soil, and inputs to ensure sustainable food production and provisioning. They will investigate the drivers of inequality in food systems and chart paths towards a more just and sustainable food system at the local, regional, and national levels, recognizing the interconnections between local food production, policy, access, and health. Further, they will explore cuisine and food culture at the intersection of disciplines such as chemistry, literature, psychology, and language. Graduates of the Food Pathway will have the tools and insights necessary to become change-makers in our food system, whether it be in production, policy, entrepreneurship, education, or community engagement.
Core group: Rachel Black, Frida Morelli, Michelle Neely, Tanya Schneider, Eric Vukicevich
Curricular Itinerary Courses
Students must select three courses, each from a different Mode of Inquiry. If a course that is not listed below would be relevant to a student's animating question, the student may submit a petition to the Pathway coordinator to have it counted toward the Pathway.
Mode of Inquiry A
Mode of Inquiry B
Mode of Inquiry C
Mode of Inquiry D
Mode of Inquiry E
Global Local Engagement
Internships working on farms in other countries, for food-based NGOs, or study abroad programs with agricultural-based institutions or food-based programs would be relevant, among others. These opportunities could take place during a semester (in the case of study away in a related field) or during the summer (in the case of an internship or position with an NGO or farm) and would require a series of reports and final reflection paper to accompany the work. As the topic of food is inherently broad, there could be many potential types of study away opportunities that would fit well with the program and largely depend on the student’s animating question. There may be climatic and/or cultural relevance to a student’s question, in which case certain study away opportunities might be particularly enlightening (e.g. studying greenhouse production in northern Europe, shifting cultivation in northeastern India, or open-air market culture in Spain). Simply taking courses in their topic area of choice at universities in these places would expose them to a unique set of circumstances that would enliven their experience.
Summer internships would be ideal for this pathway. Internships could be tailored to match the animating questions of different students. One local internship example that is already available is participation in the FRESH-CONNection, which is a partnership between FRESH New London and Connecticut College initiated in Fall semester of 2019, with the first internships occurring in summer 2020. Basically, the program utilizes the expanded Sprout Garden space as well as community gardening space in downtown New London to grow food for a sliding-scale CSA program, making fresh healthy produce more readily accessible for New London residents. Simultaneously, the partnership provides for a cooperative learning experience between Conn interns and FRESH summer program high school students. Together, they experience growing food in both an urban setting and in-ground on the new Sprout Garden area. Students interested in a) food sovereignty, b) urban farming, c) alternative food provision models, and c) horticultural and environmental topics including pest management and responsible and efficient use of limited land, nutrient, and water resources. The internship would be structured to allow students to pursue their own animating questions that are related to the program. Additional opportunities for summer internships could be completed on local farms or with community organizations in the area such as Groton Public School’s farm to school program, the Giving Garden at Coogan Farm, the Food Pantry run by the OIC in New London, and others.
Community-based learning opportunities include partnerships with the programs noted above. Some community-based learning is included in some of the pathway courses such as BOT
493 (Sustainable Agriculture) and ANT 354 (Sustainable Food Systems), which provides a good 5 introduction to working with partner organizations in various fields. For example, BOT 493
students participated in a series of kickoff events for the FRESH CONNection program (e.g. a workshop on food justice and a garlic planting). Community-based learning for the Food Pathway
would take a similar form as the internship, however it could be applied during the academic year, with projects occurring over a longer time frame with fewer hours per week as compared to an
Another form of Global/Local Engagement relevant to this pathway could be linked to campus dining at Connecticut College and simultaneously work towards addressing some of Connecticut
College’s sustainability goals. Students participating in this form of engagement could lead projects such as: an educational campaign centered on plant-based diets; student guest chef nights;
aiding dining staff in the logistics of procuring more local food; implementation of a sustainable compost management system for pre-cooking food scraps; and growing and tracking food for
campus dining in the Sprout Garden high tunnels.