Professors receive grant to fund seminar on policy, food

The professors leading the seminar include anthropology and gender studies professor Richard Wilk and cognitive science and informatics professor Peter Todd.

Wilk leads the Food Studies program in the Department of Anthropology and Todd often teaches a freshmen honors seminar called “Food for Thought: The Cognitive Science of Eating.”

The grant was awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through its Sawyer Seminars program. Only a few universities are asked to even compete for Sawyer Seminar funding. “Food Choice, Freedom and Politics” marks the second time an IU proposal has been awarded the grant.

The seminar consists of three specific parts.

The first part is a year-long series of meetings that will feature discussions about food choice, decisions and diet.

The meetings will include scholars from anthropology, psychology, economics, geography, informatics, sociology, history, communications and culture, and
political science.

The first part is followed by a week-long conference, which focuses on developing models for interdisciplinary food studies.

“There is considerable debate about what shape and direction this field should take,” Wilk said in a press release. “The study of food choice presents an unprecedented opportunity to build a point of contact where different disciplines truly engage.”

The third and final workshop will concentrate on turning academic research into actual public policy.

Political representatives and community food organizations representatives will be in attendance to discuss how to address issues of consumption, sustainability and public health.

“IU is grateful to have been invited to successfully participate in three different Mellon funded programs,” Sarita Soni, vice provost for research at IU Bloomington, said in the release.
“Professors Wilk and Todd are outstanding scholars, and they have assembled a group of eminent participants for this program, which I am certain will advance the kind of comparative historical and cultural research that is at the heart of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar program.”

Jake New

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