Farmers, Scientists, & Activists: Public Discourse of Food Economies

Course Description

Since 2008’s “Food, Inc.” the public discourse surrounding food economies, food technology, and food sustainability has begun to consider: What are the possibilities in rethinking our food, the way we talk about it, the way we grow it, and the way we eat it? Food has long been identified as a socioeconomic marker, tied to income in ways that have material effects for individuals and communities, e.g. health disparities and food deserts. But who are the people and organizations working on the intersection of food and justice, and how can we as writers work with them to further their goals?

In this advanced PWR class, you will be paired with identified local (Bay Area) non-profits concerned with food economies, such as food activists, food banks, farmers, and farm collectives to collaborate on producing websites, promotional materials, press releases and other public documents. You will engage in food activist projects that will encourage you to analyze and respond to a variety of professional writing situations; you will practice project management, focusing on deliverables and benchmarking. As you hone your collaboration skills, such as teamwork and active listening, you will simultaneously increase your research and rhetorical acumen through a multi-genre approach to writing in context. The end result will be a multimodal, collaboratively-produced document or set of documents you can add to your public-facing portfolios. Students taking this courses as part of the Notation in Science Communication can include their final project in their NSC e-portfolio.

Annotated list of major assignments

  • Research Brief: Inspired by your site visit to your assigned community partner, under the topic of food economies, you will locate relevant scholarly sources, and synthesize this information into a 2-3 page research brief with visuals. Your brief will highlight key findings and recommendations to a particular public stakeholder audience, such as local environmental policy makers or volunteers at Second Harvest Food Bank.
  • Proposal PowerPoint: Our course’s community partners have asked us to create public writing projects for them, including videos, webpage content, and newsletters. Collaborating with your group, you will create a PowerPoint presentation detailing your plan for your project and present it to your non-profit partner for feedback.
  • Public Project: Based on the plan presented in your group’s Proposal PowerPoint, your group will create a written or multimodal composition for your food economy organization that they can use to influence a public audience here in the Bay area.
  • Final Reflective Paper: Drawing on themes and theories from the course, you will analyze your major assignments and group collaboration process, reflecting on five key takeaways from the course and one goal for continued growth.