You are here

From Kitchen to Curriculum

An Outcome From FACT

Pasta, steamed dumplings, and tacos and tamales aren't just on the menu—they’re part of the curriculum.

Students learned how to prepare those meals as part of learning how other cultures experience food. They also practiced mindfulness, drawing on Thich Nhat Hanh’s How to Eat, and focused on building community through cooking and eating.

It was part of the “On Eating, Cooking, and Thinking” class co-taught by Assistant Professor of Philosophy Lewis Trelawny-Cassity and Food Service Coordinator Isaac DeLamatre ’07, which explored the nature of eating, cooking and cuisine through a combination of experiential, practical, ethical, cultural and philosophical approaches.

The class was first offered in Spring Quarter 2016, and again in Winter Quarter 2017. The second offering is one visible offshoot of the Framework for Antioch College’s Transition (FACT) process, an example of how Antioch’s curricular assets can offer direct support for classroom and experiential learning.

The course’s interdisciplinary nature allows students to learn practical culinary skills in a liberal arts context that also focuses on critical thinking, discussion, and historical and cultural reflection. In addition to cultivating mise en place skills, which are necessary for everything from writing academic papers to building tangible structures, the course critically analyzes mise en place’s origins in French military protocol. The course also focuses on the relationships between slavery, colonization and food, and explores the often-overlooked contributions that African Americans have made to American culture through food.

As part of the FACT implementation process, Antioch is exploring how courses like this could eventually be developed into a “micro-college,” or a short-term, specialized curriculum offered at Antioch around a specific profession—in this case around food, farming and cooking. The end result could be Antioch Kitchens offering professional certifications based on culinary practices.

In the meantime, DeLamatre and Trelawny-Cassity presented the pedagogical models from this class at an interdisciplinary conference of food systems at Columbia University last year. And a version of the class co-taught by DeLamatre and Assistant Professor of Sculpture an Installation Michael Casselli ’87 in Spring Quarter focused on food and community. Learning how to cook for a large group of people and sharing the stories behind a favorite family recipe were among the items on the menu—er, curriculum.