Questioning Reality, Questioning Science: Teaching Students in the Food and Agricultural Sciences about Epistemological, Ethical, and Empirical Controversies

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Abstract

The effective application of food science depends on social constraints, yet the training for food scientists does not adequately consider the contested social context under which food is processed, packaged, and prepared. We recently co-taught a new course (“Arguing about food”) intended to introduce students to critical perspectives on the epistemological, ethical, and empirical assumptions that characterize contemporary food controversies. Through a series of guest lectures, readings, and discussions, students engaged with contrasting views on data quality, food ethics, nutrition, safety, governance, and the scientific enterprise as a whole. A key feature of the course was that we did not seek to defend any particular position. Rather, we examined how different values could lead reasonable people to take different views on scientific issues. Course requirements included a pass/fail quiz, a series of written reading responses, a group project devoted to a case study, and active attendance and participation. The students were engaged and challenged by the material, and at the end of the semester, reported that the course had also been useful and informative to them as young professionals embarking upon careers in the food and agricultural sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-53
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Food Science Education
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Education

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