The Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is part of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies that draws together faculty, staff, graduate students, and others from a wide array of academic disciplines to investigate environmental and cultural change in the full sweep of human history. CHE provides a place where a community of scholars from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds can share insights and explore the past and present relationships between humans and the environment.
I have served both as a core Graduate Student Associate of CHE since its inception in 2007 and as the Center’s Project Assistant for two years (2007-2008, and 2012-2013). During that time, I have served variously as event planner, webmaster, coordinator of the Graduate Student Symposium and organizer of the Place-Based Workshop. This latter event, the place-based workshop, is a signature event of CHE–a sort of traveling field trip that uses place to integrate transdisciplinary perspectives, both in education and research, in understanding human-environment interactions over time. I organized trips focused on Agriculture in the Driftless Area of Southwestern Wisconsin (in 2008) and on Urban Farming in Milwaukee and Madison (in 2013).
GreenHouse is a Residential Learning Community designed for students to think, work, and live in more sustainable ways. Joining GreenHouse gives students an opportunity to do more than just live in a conventional residence hall. GreenHouse staff and student interns students to get engaged in sustainability efforts on campus and in the Madison area, and use their hands to “learn by doing.” Hands-on opportunities include cooking locally and sustainably, restoring a prairie, fixing bicycles, and gardening–just to name a few. As the food programming coordinator for the GreenHouse, I got to lead lots of exciting activities, a sampling of which can be found below!
Global Food for Thought Meal Series
This series provided an opportunity for students to taste the foods of other cultures and then engage the social and environmental issues of the places whose cuisines they sampled. Through this, students began to understand how the production, preparation, and consumption of food involves us in intimate relations with the natural world and with each other. Chefs from Madison’s ethnic restaurants and other food experts worked with Housing Food Service staff to prepare dinners characteristic of a certain place. These meals were followed by an hour of discussion with the guest, to situate the food in environmental and cultural context. An article about the Meal Series in one of the UW student papers: “Global Food For Thought Combines Cuisine, Culture,” The Badger Herald
My role was to decide on the ethnic cuisines we wanted to feature, recruit knowledgeable chefs or other experts from the community, work with the guests to develop their presentations, help design menus, choose readings (during the first semester only), manage the communication with Housing Food Service, coordinate student sign-up and room set-up, and all other details, both conceptual and concrete.
See a recap of all events, with great images, here.
A list of the events:
- Eating for One, or Six Billion
- Taste of Tuscany, and the Global Slow Food Movement
- Hunger Banquet, and Global Poverty
- Nepalese Cuisine: The Taste of the Roof of the World
- Vegetarian Tastes: At Home and Abroad
- Ecuadorian Cuisine and the Kallari Cooperative’s Sustainable Cacao Production
- Hmong Cuisine and Wisconsin Culture
- Afro-Caribbean Cuisine and Environment
- Global Vegetarianism and Animal Ethics
- West African Food and Dance
- An Arctic Feast
- International Influences in Wisconsin Cuisine
- Bangladeshi Food and Ecology
- MesoAmerican Food and Culture: Insights from a Pedal Bike Trip
Seminars taught (with links to my Teaching page)
Make Your Own Meal Series
Through this meal series, I equipped students with the skills to make simple, healthy, fresh meals, even with limited tools and experience. We made sushi, quiche, burritos, veggie chili, dishes with winter vegetables, and much more!