August 1, 2017 at 9:17 am

Moran Named Campus Engagement ‘Rock Star’

Dr. Theresa Moran, Food Studies Theme Director, stands next to student art depicting a garden where students grow produce now offered in campus venues.

Dr. Theresa Moran, Food Studies Theme Director, stands next to student art depicting a garden where students grow produce now offered in campus venues.

From the Center for Campus Engagement Newsletter

The CCCE is very proud to recognize Dr. Theresa Moran as this month’s Engagement Rock Star! Moran has been incorporating community-engaged learning into the classes she teaches as the director of the Food Studies theme as well developing volunteer, internship, and study-away opportunities for students to learn about food systems locally and globally.

When asked how she has seen community-engaged learning impact her students, Moran shared that many of her students are seeing a community through food for the first time. They gain an understanding of how they are a part of a food system and how their choices affect that food system. They have a “ground level” experience—literally—when they pull a potato from the ground for the first time as well as an intellectual experience when studying food justice and the challenges of food security and access in this region. Some students have secured employment following Food Studies internships with organizations like Rural Action, Community Food Initiatives and local businesses like the Village Bakery. Other students have continued to volunteer for these organizations long after their class or internship is over. For example, a visit to the Farmers Market can find a number of Food Studies students volunteering at the Donation Station or working at the Shagbark stall.

Food studies theme logoMoran and students taking classes in the Food Studies theme engage with many community organizations, food producers, and small businesses. She says these community partnerships are a source of inspiration and an everyday reminder to keep an open mind.

“Community members have a wealth of resources and stories,” she says. “And people are always innovating to survive”—this is an undertold story she feels is important to share with students.  “People aren’t only what they appear to be,” she says, “It’s best to leave your assumptions at the door.”

The Food Studies theme has a busy year ahead. This will be the third year the student-run produce market will be at the Atrium Market on campus. Moran also has helped to broker a new initiative with Culinary Services to feature student-grown produce in Latitude 39 on their new 30-mile meal menu and in retail outlets in Jeff and Boyd halls. There also will be expanded internship opportunities in sustainable food production in Ecuador and marketing regional food specialties in Italy. This year, Moran’s spring break in Cuba program will spend additional time in the countryside for a deeper look at changes in Cuban agriculture. Closer to home, Food Studies will again host its Food on Film series at the Athena on Oct. 5, 12, 19. The films selected will cover themes related to bugs as alternative protein sources, the implications of monoculture corn production, and provocative claims that GMO food is the solution to hunger. Shows start at 7 p.m. and admission is free to all.

Moran notes that centrality of food to the 21st century challenges of health, environment, climate and sustainable economic development is widely accepted. Gratified by the positive response by students and faculty to the Food Studies curriculum, certificate and co-curricular activities, she notes that this initiative would not exist without the commitment of Dean Bob Frank of the College of Arts & Sciences to support interdisciplinary work and community engagement in innovative ways. She also shared that President and Mrs. Nellis came to visit the Plant Biology gardens recently to see the work of OHIO Food Studies students. Integrating community-engaged learning in multiple aspects of the Food Studies theme can be challenging but very rewarding work, says Moran.  What keeps her motivated?

“I get to be involved, informed, and inspired—and so do the students.”

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