University of St. Thomas faculty and staff are invited to participate in a June seminar titled “Hungering for Food and Justice in the Twin Cities.”

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, June 6-8, at a variety of off-campus sites in the Twin Cities.

The workshop is sponsored by St. Thomas’ Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement (CILCE), Office for Service-Learning and Faculty Development. It will be facilitated by HECUA (the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs).

The workshop will explore a number of aspects of the food system in the Twin Cities, examining local manifestations of the reality that 50 million Americans worry about food each day. “Hunger” can be thought of as two issues: those who do not have enough to eat, and those without reliable access to nutritious food. Who is hungry in the Twin Cities and why? What is “food insecurity,” and what are its causes and effects in the Twin Cities?

The tour and workshop also will introduce some positive steps for change that various groups and institutions are taking or can take. These will include closer connections between farmers and consumers, more environmentally sustainable food production and greater community self-reliance.

Questions that will come up: What role can a large private university play in improving access to healthy food in neighborhoods nearby, or even those more distant? How are groups drawing moral connections among consumerism, climate change and worldwide hunger?

The food system in cities often is less visible than systems like housing, transportation, land use, and development, but its impacts are enormous. A bus tour of neighborhoods in St. Paul and Minneapolis will help seminar participants understand how to see the food system and reliable access to nutritious food.

Additional field visits and field speakers may include a Hmong farm, Oxfam Action Corps, Feed My Starving Children, and Frogtown Gardens and Frogtown Farm. Daily reflections will include discussion of ways to integrate off-campus experiences into coherent curricular and co-curricular offerings.

This workshop will complement the St. Thomas Faculty Development workshop “Connecting Food and our Curriculum” June 13-16, with an optional fourth day on service learning.

Interested faculty members are encouraged to attend both seminars, as they will have different focuses. The June 6-8 seminar will also be of special interest to those involved with a variety of university initiatives related to food, sustainability and social justice (our community garden, the sustainable food systems service-learning cluster, ACTC’s urban sustainability salons, and the 2011-2012 common context theme of “hunger,” among others).

Seminar objectives

  • Gain firsthand knowledge of Twin Cities’ communities and some of the issues they face.
  • Gain ideas for case studies and community-based projects for your course or program.
  • Become more knowledgeable about best principles and practices in intercultural learning and experiential education.
  • Increase understanding of the ethical and practical considerations in getting students involved with communities outside the St. Thomas campus.
  • Help participants plan for changes they could make to their own courses and programs. The registration deadline is Friday, May 20. Space is limited due to the experiential nature of the seminar; early registration is advised. Interested faculty and staff will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

To register, e-mail Katie Hunt; include a few sentences outlining your goals for participating and your interest in or experience with community engagement, community-based learning or service-learning (no experience is assumed).

For more information, contact Meghan Allen Eliason, CILCE, (651) 962-6805; or Barb Baker, Service-Learning, (651) 962-5380.