National food association honors teaching approach of UO’s ‘Bread 101’

Bread loaves on display on the final day of Bread 101
Bread loaves on display on the final day of Bread 101

Bread 101, a course offered last spring in the UO's Robert D. Clark Honors College, has won the 2015 Pedagogy Award from the Association for the Study of Food and Society for its innovative interdisciplinary and hands-on approach for teaching about food.

The award is one of five given annually by the association in recognition of outstanding scholarship and teaching in the field of food within the social sciences, humanities and related disciplines.

The upper-level undergraduate course was team-taught by three biologists (Karen Guillemin, Judith Eisen and Elly Vandegrift), a physicist (Miriam Deutsch) and an instructor of comparative literature (Jennifer Burns Bright). It was featured in Around the O (In a Clark Honors College course, the bread dough did rise) and in Oregon Quarterly (Bread 101).

In the course, formally known as HC 441: Science Colloquium, students explored the chemistry, microbiology and physics involved in transforming seed into bread; the genetics of wheat; the cultural and historical context of bread consumption; and the politics of wheat and bread production in Eugene and in the United States.

As an experimental offering in the Clark Honors College, Bread 101 also served as a course development laboratory for the UO's Science Literacy Program, which seeks to improve general science literacy courses.

"We are thrilled that this innovative course has won well-deserved recognition," said Terry Hunt, dean of the Clark Honors College. "The college is always eager to bring exceptional experiences to our students, and the Bread 101 course is a perfect example of what happens when committed, diverse faculty members come together with students to examine a subject in nontraditional ways."

The Association for the Study of Food and Society, based in Flushing, New York, was founded in 1985 with the goals of promoting the interdisciplinary study of food and society.