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Sustainable Food Systems: The U’s approach to local & global food at AASHE

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (aka, AASHE) conference is just around the corner! AASHE is the largest sustainability related conference of its kind, and we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have it right in our own backyards.

This year AASHE will once again feature presentation topics ranging from energy to climate change and food to water issues. Along with unique presentations, AASHE is welcoming presenters from across the United States, many of whom are experts in diverse disciplines. Minnesota is sure to be well represented at this year’s conference, as representatives from the Twin Cities campus and other campuses across the state will be in attendance! Here’s the bottom line: If you have yet to give thought to which AASHE presentations you’re interested in checking out, now is the time! Lucky for you, we’ve started to do some research.

At the University of Minnesota, professors, dining services and students alike are all doing really interesting work surrounding food at both a local and global level! AASHE-attendees will have the opportunity to connect with folks engaged in local conversations about food, i.e. through Uncomfortable Dinner Parties and Farmer Photo Booths and professors teaching a course about food production and agroecosystems around the world. Through these presentations, audiences will leave with concrete ideas on how they can better their college campus’ relationship with food.

Educating About Feeding the World Sustainably: Agroecosystems of the World (10/27 @ 11:20-12:20)

Paul Porter, Professor, and Mary Brakke, Teaching Assistant Professor, both in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics will be presenting on their course titled “Agroecosystems of the World”. Through this discussion, Paul and Mary will virtually bring together natives from southwest Minnesota, Morocco, Somalia and Nepal to demonstrate thefactors shaping food production within each of these regions. Come to take a virtual trip across the montane areas of Morocco, semi-arid tropical grasslands in Somalia and tropical savannahs/forests of Nepal. Audiences will gain a deeper appreciation for the biophysical and social-economic characteristics of the four regions that influence the environment, production, consumption and social structures built around food. Come to see how Paul and Mary use distance technology and virtual learning as tools for connecting to other parts of the world to more comprehensively understand their food environments!

Uncomfortable Dinner Parties and Farmer Photo Booths: Interactive Session on Discovering and Sharing Campus Food Sustainability (10/27 @ 1:45-2:45)

Alyssa Lundberg, University Dining Services’ Sustainability Coordinator, and Valentine Cadieux, Resident Fellow at the Institute on the Environment, will discuss their college campus approaches to food sustainability during this interactive session. Their goal is to provide a platform for discussion between individuals engaged in food sustainability across a variety of backgrounds—from students to researchers to chefs, farmers and administrators. They will approach the discussion about food sustainability on college campuses through two practices on the University of Minnesota’s campus: Uncomfortable Dinner Parties and Farmer Photo Booths. Uncomfortable Dinner Parties have given those connected to the food world an opportunity to discuss how food sustainability should be explored at the University of Minnesota. Farmer Photo Booths have invited people to construct portraits illustrating how they perceive farming. Join Alyssa and Valentine at their presentation to learn about how food sustainability can be improved on college campuses and to be introduced to some of the awesome work that is currently taking place at the U!

As can be seen through these upcoming AASHE sessions, the University of Minnesota is engaged in the food sustainability discussion at both the local and global level! Consider joining these leaders at their AASHE presentations next week.


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