Institute to host speaker series on ‘Food Policy and Food Politics’
The St. Olaf College Institute for Freedom and Community will host five events this fall featuring speakers in discussion around the theme of “Food Policy and Food Politics.”
The events will take place on the St. Olaf campus, and they are free and open to the public. Most events will be livestreamed online. As part of its commitment to constructive policy discourse, the Institute for Freedom and Community will be hosting post-event dialogues following each presentation. These conversations will be led by Institute Student Fellows trained in fostering a constructive atmosphere for discussion and debate.
“It’s essential to teach students how to have constructive conversations around policy and other important debates,” says Institute for Freedom and Community Assistant Director Kelly Shirah.
“It’s essential to teach students how to have constructive conversations around policy and other important debates.”Institute for Freedom and Community Assistant Director Kelly Shirah
The fall series kicked off on September 26 with freelance writer and researcher Sarah Mock presenting “The Agrarian Dilemma: The Farm System We Have and What Else is Possible.” Wielding her experiences working around agriculture across the country, Mock discussed the challenges and myths of the small family farm in the U.S., as well as the policy environment that influences farming American practices. Mock is the author of Farm and Other F Words and Big Team Farms. Watch her lecture below.
The next event in the fall speaker series will be on October 18, with Katherine Gutierrez and Usamah Wasif presenting a talk on “Food Access, Social Policy, and Inequality.” The pair will present their own research, and discuss social policy surrounding food access such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and grocery taxes. Gutierrez is a Ph.D. candidate in public economics at the University of New Mexico. Wasif is a post-doctoral research fellow with the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) program at Michigan State University, and studies the educator workforce in Michigan. Their presentation will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Tomson 280.
“We expect the October 18 conversation to not only highlight policy differences, but also model how to speak constructively to identify policy solutions,” says Christopher Chapp, the Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community.
The fall series will continue on October 23 with a presentation by University of Texas at Austin Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies Ashanté Reese, who researches the relationship between critical food studies and Black geographies. The presentation will focus around her work in this field, including a special insight into her ongoing research in Sugar Land, Texas. Reese is the author of Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C., which won the 2020 Margaret Mead Award, and Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice. The presentation will take place at 3:30 p.m. in Viking Theater.
Following that is an event on November 2 with Cindi SturtzSreetharan, a professor at the Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change, presenting “Stressed Out and Too Busy: Negotiating the Lived Experience of Weight Across Four Cultures.” Interested in the interaction between language and the body, SturtzSreetharan is a co-author of Fat in Four Cultures: A Global Ethnography of Weight, and her presentation will incorporate research from this text as it challenges assumptions about body image. The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Viking Theater.
The final fall speaker event will take place on November 6 and feature a discussion by Clare Brock, an assistant professor of political science at Colorado State University. Examining the agricultural and food sectors at a legislative level, Brock will present her research on policy and how the lobbying process impacts everyday food choices. Her new book, Farmed Out: Agricultural Lobbying in a Polarized Congress, comes out in November. The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Viking Theater.
Established at St. Olaf in 2014, the Institute for Freedom and Community encourages free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues among students, faculty, and the general public. The Institute sponsors a range of programming opportunities, in addition to the lecture series, to further cultivate civil discourse within the context of the liberal arts.