UNC Asheville “Food Cluster” wins national award

From UNC Asheville’s PR team:

The faculty team behind “Food for Thought,” UNC Asheville’s interdisciplinary course cluster exploring issues related to food production and consumption, has been named the winner of the 2013 William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science from the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.

One of 17 Integrative Liberal Studies Topical Clusters developed at UNC Asheville, the “Food for Thought” Cluster includes courses in many disciplines, as well as research and projects to create a deeper understanding of what we eat, why we eat, where our food comes from, and how food affects our health, the economy and environment, and our social and political relations.

The award-winning faculty team consists of:

Sally Wasileski, associate professor of chemistry
Karin Peterson, chair and professor of sociology
Amy Lanou, Sally and Joseph Breman Professor of Social Relations and associate professor of health and wellness
Leah Greden Mathews, Interdisciplinary Distinguished Professor of the Mountain South and professor of economics
David Clarke, associate professor of biology
Jason Wingert, assistant professor of health and wellness
Ellen Bailey, lecturer of French and Spanish

Food cluster student projects have included developing food and nutrition guidelines for the university, investigations of truth in labeling, research on food commodities, and involvement in using university gardens to grow food and plan its distribution.

Last fall, food cluster students and faculty presented Food Day, a public event with food tasting and presentations by students on food chemistry, food and gender, nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases. Food Day also featured a panel discussion on the Farm Bill that included representation from local farmers, anti-hunger activists and the Asheville-Buncombe County Food Policy Council.

Keith Krumpe, dean of natural sciences and professor of chemistry, commended the “Food for Thought” faculty team for “designing and implementing an outstanding model, creating a rich array of co-curricular projects and demonstrating the value of interdisciplinary learning that connects the sciences to non-science disciplines.” Krumpe will accept the Bennett Award on August 2 at the SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) Summer Institute 2013 at Santa Clara University in California. UNC Asheville’s “Food for Thought” cluster model will be showcased at the institute.

“We are delighted to make this award to the Asheville team,” said David Burns, NCSCE’s executive director, in announcing the award. “They exemplify the ideals of the Bennett Award, and they have done the extraordinary work.” William E. Bennett, now retired, served as senior science advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and held appointments as medical school faculty, bench scientist and scientist administrator.


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