Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Tackling Wicked Food Issues: Applying the Wicked Problems Approach in Higher Education to Promote Healthy Eating Habits in American School Children


Liberal Studies Department


Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies


Arts and Humanities


Life-long healthy eating habits and sustainable local agricultural practices, as wicked problems in America, are intractable, on-going and high-stakes issues. An interdisciplinary university course was developed to engage students in participatory research and fieldwork on the inextricably linked dimensions of food, health and sustainability. Students worked with community partners, stakeholders and experts to address the specific interdisciplinary issue of diet and promotion of healthy eating habits in American school children. Using a bottom-up approach, students co-developed projects with stakeholders (including school children) to empower movement for change. This interactive research process created an iterative feedback loop which fostered more inclusive and creative projects to meliorate the wicked problem at hand. Project proposals ranged from the creation of an interactive website intended for school children, to field trips to local farming communities, to How-To workshops for gardening and meal planning, to local tastings. Projects were, in the end, shared with and vetted by community partners with the intention of future co-implementation. Using food as an interdisciplinary agent to bring collaboration to fruition, the results of this work indicate universities could be more effective in preparing students for the 21st century by developing more courses with the communitys needs in mind.

Conference Name

Fourth International Conference on Food Studies

Conference Location

Prato, Italy

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