New Certificate Program Offers Food for Thought

Lizzy Hardison ’16, Co-Editor in Chief

At their Feb. 2 meeting, faculty approved the creation of a Food Studies certificate and two Food Studies courses, one of which will be open to students starting in Fall 2016.

According to the resolution presented to the faculty by the Academic and Program Standards Committee (APSC), Food Studies is defined as “the critical examination of food – the evolution of its procurement, production, consumption and cultural meanings within the contexts of the natural and social sciences and humanities. It is a multidisciplinary field of study [framed by] complex questions: Where does food come from? Why do people eat what they eat? Are current food systems sustainable? What factors will shape the future of food systems, foodways and food culture?”

According to the APSC resolution, the certificate will consist of two core courses and four electives from at least two departments outside of the student’s major.

One of the courses, Food Studies 201, will be taught by Jenn Halpin, director of the College Farm, and Siobhan Phillips, associate professor of English, each semester beginning in Fall 2016. The second course, a Capstone Seminar, will be held yearly beginning Fall 2018. The certificate requires an “experimental component” such as an internship, independent study or research with applied, field-based component, field-based or laboratory/research experience or a hands-on work experience.

At the faculty meeting, Halpin encouraged the faculty to approve the new program. Halpin said that the coursework would allow the college to engage with food producers, vendors and activists in the Cumberland Valley while taking advantage of the curricular and material resources on campus and at the college farm.

The Food Studies Certificate is an extension of Dickinson’s involvement in the “local food movement,” states the APSC resolution.

The new courses will also support Dickinson’s commitment to sustainability and environmental education as a member of the EcoLeague college consortium.

Emily Pawley, assistant professor of history, said that students have undertaken self-designed Food Studies majors before, and that the new program could offer students an accredited, guided path of study in the field.

Adrienne Su, professor of English and poet-in-residence, also spoke in favor of the proposal, saying that a food studies program could distinguish Dickinson from other small liberal arts colleges.