Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Katherine (Kit) Anderson, Ph.D., UVM Environmental Program

Second Advisor

Victor Ernesto Mendez, Ph.D., UVM Environmental Program

Keywords

Alternative Food Movement (AFM), Agriculture, Neoliberalism, Food System, Food Justice, Food Sovereignty

Abstract

The alternative food movement (AFM) in the United States is a collection of organizations, communities, and individuals who are united under a common goal to search for and ultimately carry out alternative solutions to the current industrial, pesticide-laden, monocrop agriculture model. As this movement has evolved and become more nuanced, questions surrounding exclusivity related to race, class, socioeconomic status, gender, and identity have begun to surface. Tied to the neoliberalist regime, the AFM as it stands today benefits the dominant group, white middle-to-upper class citizens who are educated, and vastly excludes underserved populations. Through the analysis of a 13-student, Students-Teaching-Students course at the University of Vermont developed and taught by Olivia Burt, Leila Rezvani, and Claire Wiggin in the spring of 2016, our research aims to critically assess the food movement as it stands today and collectively determine how the food movement could be more inclusive and act as a vehicle for positive social change. Using emergent pedagogy including backwards design and safe space, as facilitators we aim to stimulate conversation and thought for a more realistic and just movement that achieves environmental, economic and social sustainability. This course resulted in collective student visions on a just food system that challenges dominant narratives, centering around self-determination, critical thinking, and community over individual empowerment. As facilitators, we were able to communicate course content effectively because of our positionality as students-teaching-students in a small, safe, discussion based learning environment. Overall, this course serves as a vessel to teach social justice through the lens of food.

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