Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Environmental Program

Keywords

mindfulness practice, food systems, residential learning communities, transformative education, sustainability

Abstract

In the contemporary food system, it is now hardly possible for consumers to make healthy choices about food with low impacts on the environment. Due to the nature of capitalism there is a current tendency towards conventional food systems that prioritizes productivity and efficiency within the system. In order to create a sustainable system, it is essential that consumers become aware of the influence their choices have on the environment and human health. To encourage more environmentally-responsible and healthy consumer food choices, a curriculum of transformative education for sustainability was introduced to a small group of students in the GreenHouse Residential Learning Community at the University of Vermont. The format for this six-week credit bearing course was designed to engage students in learning food system concepts and mindfulness practices. Two types of mindful eating were woven together in the course: eating mindfully to create a better relationship with food and making decisions about food choices mindfully with our health and the health of the environment in mind. The results from the study showed the effectiveness of applying mindfulness in transformative experiential learning for food systems. Although the course ran for a very short time period, students reported the changes in their attitudes and behaviors around food, including higher awareness about where food comes from and ability to observe how they physically and mentally feel in relation with what they eat. Also, the results indicated that mindfulness practices functioned as an effective tool for transformative education.

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