Avila University was awarded a national Clarion Award by the Association for Women in Communication for one of its innovative interdisciplinary courses, the Food & Culture Course (IS 366).
The award was given for curriculum design in the education category. Dotty Hamilton, Ph.D., professor of communication and dean, and Eric Winter, assistant professor of art and design, formulated the unique course, which uses food as a lens to teach students about other cultures, as well as vital global issues surrounding food.
The courses were judged on syllabi, course assignments, research and measurable results based on student evaluations and comments.
“We also submitted our rationale and goals for designing the course,” Hamilton said. “In our case, this course was inspired by the mission of Avila University – to prepare students for responsible lifelong contributions to the global community.”
Course assignments included traditional projects such as course readings, research papers and presentations as well as experiential – trips to Middle Eastern and Asian markets, eating at an Ethiopian restaurant where they heard a presentation on food and culture from the Ethiopian chef, a Google video chat with a South Korean student and a trip to a local dairy farm. Students could voluntarily participate in extra activities including restaurant visits to learn about Vietnamese and vegan food and vegan food as well as a “hunger banquet” put on by Oxfam International and sponsored by the Social Work Club that simulates the world’s eating patterns.
The Association for Women in Communication only gives one award in this category each year, and the Avila course was selected among hundreds of submissions.
“We’re happy that we were chosen and hope it can bring some more attention to the innovative courses that faculty at Avila are designing,” Winter said.
About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.