Students in Professor Gerry Campbell’s “Contemporary Issues in the Food System” class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are learning about the complex issues driving the food system by participating in a combination of on-campus learning and off-campus ventures.
Campbell’s students meet for three to four hours each week sometimes in the classroom, but almost as often in food environments ranging from supermarkets to local eating establishments, food pantries or local farms. Students recently met with Barbara and David Perkins at their Vermont Valley community supported agriculture farm near Black Earth, Wisc. Students learned the Perkins’ perspectives on how they connect themselves with the people that eat their food, the business and personal risk of growing foods.
Students are encouraged to acknowledge and use their own food system experience in their learning. After each field experience, students prepare a short reaction/reflection paper about the visit. From a holistic perspective, the class aims to teach students that food is as much a social issue as a function of biology and environment.
This undergraduate course in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences was based on the Wisconsin Food System Partnership’s (WFSP) vision that “citizens, faculty, staff and students learn from each other and work together” so that students can “gain an appreciation of the social responsibility associated with the opportunity for education.” WFSP is a project of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Food Systems Professions Education initiative. For more information, contact Gerry Campbell at Campbell@aae.wisc.edu.