At Emory University, students enrolled in Anthropology 386 organize the Sustainable Food Fair, which aims to engage the Emory community in the sustainability movement. Through this class, students are learning about much more than just sustainable food – they are gaining marketing, communications, and leadership skills as well. And perhaps most importantly, students learn how to teach sustainability to those who have no background, or interest, in it; this experience is more needed now than ever, as we work to overcome our climate change challenge.
This hands-on, multi-disciplinary approach is a great example of the right way to teach sustainability. The skills that students gain through this experience translate into strong real-world experience, and their understanding of sustainability and ways to communicate about it will be increasingly important as we focus on climate change mitigation strategies.
Anthropology 386: Special Topics is a class that has been around for 10 years now. Here, students organize the annual student-led Sustainable Food Fair. According to the event’s Facebook page, the fair aims to engage the Emory community in the sustainability movement in Atlanta through a selection of educational tables and local vendors.
The students are required to complete Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) over summer break in order to come back to school prepared to organize the fair. The book is a national bestseller about the dilemmas contemporary humans face as a nutritionally unselective species in a nation dominated by agribusinesses.
The students then work with Emory Dining and the Office of Sustainability to coordinate the event and meet twice with Anthropology Professor Dr. Peggy Barlett, who specializes in sustainable development, agriculture and economic anthropology.
“This class combines the academic issues of sustainable food with the practical knowledge of how to put on a complex event,” Barlett said. “It teaches teamwork, leadership, coherence of message and logistics, and it also offers students much room for creativity.”