Culinary Sustainability Education: A Culinary Education as Sustainability
Lewis, Branden J.
School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Critics have observed that modern culinary education still adheres to the traditions that emerged during the feudal era as well as the modernist values of power, hierarchy, reductionism, and dualist worldviews. More recently, a critical postmodern view of modern culinary education and the corresponding culinary industry reveals the industry is environmentally unsustainable in the way they think, operate, educate, and enculture learners into the profession and in their impact on the food industry at large. For sustainability to have a chance, transformative changes to culinary education can assist in reorienting student learning toward sustainable ways of being and acting—education that is about, for and as sustainability (Sterling, 2001). The study presented ten propositions derived from the literature review as a vision for culinary sustainability education (CSE). Then, through a multi-faceted thematic case study, involving interviews with three different case groups—scholar informants, food workshop participants, and culinary graduates of a sustainability concentration in culinary education—findings were derived that explored the transformation process for transitioning a program toward culinary sustainability education as well as the outcomes and barriers that were experienced by learners. Triangulated through participant observation and autoethnographic storytelling, the study concludes that the ten propositions for CSE are largely valid with small modifications and are useful as principles for adoption into culinary curriculums. Further, study participants identified current organizational patterns of power and exclusion, the thinking patterns of modernism such as mechanist and dualist views, and the vocational status of culinary education as problematic to sustainability culinary education. To assist the transformation toward sustainability, findings profiled the potential of chefs as change agents within the culinary industry, food system, and broader community. Finally, the study identified pedagogical approaches that can best foster sustainability and break down current problematic patterns. This study concludes that CSE should be adopted by culinary schools to break the negative feedback loop of unsustainability in culinary arts and help foster a more sustainable future for humanity.
transformative learning principles
culinary sustainability education