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Future of Food

This has been years in the making. Three to be exact. This past January, Professor of Geology Gigi Richard’s, PhD, course on the future of food was published by InTeGrate (Interdisciplinary Teaching about Earth for a Sustainable Future).

InTeGrate, funded by the National Science Foundation, is an online portal that provides sustainable education courses. The courses are free to faculty across the country to use in their classroom instruction. Material available through InTeGrate infuse societal issues into geosciences curriculum and the process of getting a course approved for use on the website is rigorous.

“The process involved collaboration with the Penn State faculty, both in person and via conference calls. We worked together for about 18 months to develop the course materials. Once we had a draft of the course, the materials were reviewed by faculty working with InTeGrate to assess whether the course materials met InTeGrate standards,” said Richard.

“When we passed their review process, the course was piloted at CMU and Penn State in the spring of 2016. Following the pilot, we revised the course based on our experiences teaching it. Then the course materials were sent out for peer review by faculty at institutions around the country. We revised the materials again based on the reviews and finally there were published in January.”

Richard had been through an InTeGrate course process prior to the publication of Future of Food. She created a three-week class module on Water Sustainability in Cities but this was her first 12-week course.

Future of Food is an introductory-level science course that teaches the challenges facing food systems in the 21st century, including sustainability issues, adaptive capacity and modern diets. It is now available to faculty from across the country to use for free.

“Developing new course materials and especially new activities that use active-learning techniques can be really time consuming. These freely available, peer-reviewed, high-quality materials provide faculty with resources and ideas that can improve the learning that happens in their classrooms,” Richard said.

For Richard, it is all about developing course material that focuses on student learning and now students from across the country can learn about the Future of Food in an engaging manner.