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Summer Seminar for Educators – A World of Food: Growing It, Shipping It, Selling It

September 30, 2010

Above: Branden Born with graduate student, biology, Beth Wheat

K-12 Educators from across Washington state and beyond attended a two-day seminar focusing on the international history and economics of food. Issues explored included the ethics of food production, food supply, food as a commodity, and more.

Keynote speaker Lucy Jarosz, Geography, spoke about teaching students how to investigate where their food comes from, what it contains, and how those two things are relevant to both their lives and the lives of those around them. Professor Jarosz is currently working on a comparative project examining urban agriculture’s potential to address hunger in the US and Canada, and she directed teachers to resources and material on Canadian food systems through her keynote lecture.

Canadian Studies affiliate faculty member Branden Born, Urban Design and Planning, also spoke to teachers, discussing how food security has evolved from food justice to food democracy to food sovereignty. Canada has been a leader in food security integrating Food Policy Councils into provincial health departments. Professor Born studies planning process and social justice; land use planning and regionalism; and urban food systems.

In addition to two days packed with fascinating presentations and activities, teachers were able to visit the UW Farm on a tour with PhD student Elizabeth Wheat, Biology. Elizabeth’s research focuses on oyster aquaculture and her passion is sustainable food production. She is a founding member of the University of Washington student farm. She recently received the University of Washington Excellence in Teaching award for largely as a result of her work on the university student farm. She will be a teaching post-doc at the Program on the Environment starting this coming fall.

After the seminar, teachers evaluated the program, with one declaring that this year’s seminar was “one of the best programs I have been to!” Others extolled all of the presentations, including Professors Jarosz and Born, with one teacher concisely summing up her experience: “Awesome.”

The Canadian Studies Center, along with the other Jackson School National Resource Centers, work hard to ensure that quality programming and professional development opportunities are available for teachers in order to help them create curriculum with strong regional content.

This project was supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Title VI grant, US Department of Education, Office of International Education Programs Service.