Honors Ethics of Food Course Uses Community as a Classroom
The connections between ethical theory and real-life practice were vividly demonstrated to students in Dr. Joseph Campisi's Spring
2016 Honors Program Ethics of Food course. In addition to reading key works such as James McWilliams's Just Food and Ronald
Sandler's Food Ethics: The Basics, Dr. Campisi's students volunteered at area organizations such as the Poughkeepsie Farm
Project and the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. In doing so, Dr. Campisi built upon insights he had gleaned as a 2015-16 Faculty
Fellow in the Center for Civic & Engagement & Leadership, which helps faculty incorporate Community Based Learning into their
courses. The course also featured a "Pop-Up Food Film Festival" in which all students in the Honors Program were invited to
spend an afternoon watching and discussing short films focused on food-related issues.
Participant Julia Parris '17 described her day at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary as both
exhausting and exciting. Her tasks included cleaning chicken coops, giving animals their
medicine, and cutting up food for the animals to eat. Her favorite part of the day was getting
to play with the farms' pigs after raking out their pens. Students also had the opportunity to
tour the facility and ask questions about the organizations' missions.
Dr. Campisi's goal in planning these aspects of the course was to sharpen students'
attention to ethical questions surrounding food: "It's one thing to discuss farming and animals
in a general sense, and quite another to do so when you've seen how issues play out on
particular farms."According to Ms. Parris, these experiences have affected her thinking
about big-picture issues: "Ethics of Food made me more aware of the food industry and its
effects on the global market and ways in which we need to come up with better ways to feed
a growing population and remain sustainable." For Rosa Genetti '17, working at the Poughkeepsie Farm Projecthelped her become
more knowledgeable about the origins of the food she eats: "Despite feeling very knowledgeable about health and food, I realized
that I didn’t know what vegetables looked like on the farm or how some of them grow. I learned so much, even in my short time,
about agriculture in a way that put me more in touch with the food I buy and eat."
Photo by Julia Parris Photo by Julia Parris