Education for Justice Teach-in Examines Social, Economic and Political Issues Surrounding Food

Apr 19, 2010

      The University of Scranton’s 2009-10 Education for Justice programming will sate the appetite of attendees wanting to take an active role in learning about the social, economic and political issues surrounding food. 

      Held on April 20, the teach-in will feature an awards presentation for a student competition about food insufficiency, a screening of and discussion about the movie Food Inc. and several class lectures centered on the food theme. All events will be held in the DeNaples Center from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 8:30 p.m.

      Sr. Mary Anne Foley, Ph.D., director of the university’s Education for Justice Program and associate professor of theology/religious studies, explains that the Education for Justice Advisory Board considered the theme of hunger, but decided to broaden it. 

      “By expanding the theme to food, we were able to not only address food insufficiency, but factors such as bioengineering, farm policy, economics and more,” she said. 

      During the teach-in, a number of professors will open their classrooms and discuss aspects of food with their classes. These professors include Michael Allison, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science; Virginia Corcoran, Ed.D, assistant professor of exercise science and sport; Ileana Szymanski, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy; and  Sr. Foley.

      “The teach-in is a key way for us to consider and discuss food from a variety of perspectives,” Sr. Foley said. 

      During the teach-in, results of the student competition will be announced and awards presented to the winners. Participating students submitted entries—which were written, verbal or completed through an artistic medium, such as video—about various food-related issues.

      Released in 2008, the Academy Award-nominated Food, Inc. examines the U.S. food industry, and its influencers and driving forces. It exposes additional issues surrounding the theme. 

      “For example, the film shows people of very limited income who want to eat well and buy nutritious food, but can’t because of the way beef is subsidized. It’s so much cheaper to buy fast-food hamburgers,” Sr. Foley said. “The film shows how these various issues surrounding food are all connected.”

      The film will be shown in the Moskovitz Theate of DeNaples Center at 6:30 p.m. Following the screening, there will be a discussion of the claims made in the film. 

      The Education for Justice program falls during the campus’s Earth Week celebration. 

      “We felt the Education for Justice theme tied in with a number of things the Sustainability Task Force has been working on and we have chosen to fold our program into the Earth Week activities,” said Sr. Foley. 

      Sr. Foley explains that the way the University of Scranton handles its Education for Justice program stems from a talk by Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Jesuit Order, to all U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities in 2000.

      “He really challenged us to make our institutions places where students are forced to face some of the serious inequities in distribution of the world’s resources,” said Sr. Foley. “His view was if we were all doing that, the United States and, indeed, the world would look very different. The talk really provided an impetus for all of the Jesuit schools to look seriously at the ways in which we were engaging one another in serious discussion and action on key issues.”

      After extensive research into how to best address these inequities, The University of Scranton’s Education for Justice Office was established in 2007. The Education for Justice Office promotes justice throughout The University of Scranton community through various programs, lectures, and activities. The Office wishes to educate students on the importance of justice, so they may act ethically when faced with justice themes in the future.

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