Thursday, April 26

June Course to Bridge Foodways Scholarship and Public Policy, Examining Social Inequality in Mississippi

The Southern Foodways Alliance will collaborate with the University of Mississippi Department of Public Policy Leadership (PPL) to offer a June 2012 course entitled “Bringing Food to the People: Food Policy and Social Inequities in Mississippi.”  The course will be led by Dr. Jill Cooley, Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at the SFA, and and Dr. Jody Holland, Visiting Assistant Professor of PPL.

The University of Mississippi is a leader in the development of foodways studies as a scholarly discipline, and the UM Public Policy Leadership program is well-known for producing highly-effective communicators well-versed in policy-making from the local to the global.  “With teachers from two complementary departments and a compelling syllabus, the class will, we think, prove a great primer on the interdisciplinary approaches that can be applied to the field,” says John T. Edge, Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance.  

Dr. Cooley notes that interdisciplinary, team-taught courses provide a unique opportunity for students—“from these different perspectives of history and policy, we will consider how the nation’s food policy developed historically and how public policy continues to influence American diets.”

The course will include seminar and practicum components. Cooley and Holland have posed the question of how government policies have shaped the socio-economic and political realities of North Mississippi.  Studies of the intersection of race, class, and gender in twentieth-century southern history will provide context for understanding historic and contemporary federal policy efforts to ameliorate hunger and poverty. 

For the practicum component of the course, students will examine area farmers’ markets to gauge the effectiveness of current efforts to revitalize the area by making local, fresh, healthy foods accessible to economically-disadvantaged populations. Holland notes that “The U. S. Department of Agriculture estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 farmers currently sell at farmers’ markets. This number represents a growth spurt in farmers’ markets, which emphasize small and mid-scale farming operations. This course will explore the impacts and policy due to emerging local food economy.” 

The course listing is at the graduate level, SST/PPL 598, but advanced undergraduates are encouraged to enroll.  UM will offer the course during the First Summer Term, starting June 1 and ending June 27, with final exams following on June 28-29.  Thanks to funding from the Chisolm Foundation, the CSSC and the SFA will offer additional foodways classes in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013. To enroll in SST/PPL 598, students should visit the website of the Office of the Registrar for more information.

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In fall 2011, the SFA received funding from the Chisholm Foundation to fund the post-doctoral position until 2014, guaranteeing more new class options for students.