Tag Archives: UVM

Sustainable Development Postdoc

The following announcement was received from Amy Trubek, who notes that there are several UVM Food Systems faculty affiliated with the Gund Institute. That, along with the fact that ending hunger is a sustainable development goal, ought to make this a great opportunity for food and nutrition oriented anthropologists.


The Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont (UVM) is recruiting Postdoctoral Associates for Fall 2018 to conduct research on major global environmental challenges.  We seek exceptional early-career scholars committed to connecting interdisciplinary research to real-world issues in environment and sustainability.

About the position:

Postdocs are expected to pursue rigorous, original research that spans traditional disciplines and contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Postdocs will be supervised by at least one Fellow of the Gund Institute at UVM as their advisor or co-advisor.  Co-advisors from different departments are encouraged. We expect postdocs to develop additional collaborations with other UVM scholars, and to participate actively in seminars, trainings, gatherings, and other events hosted by the institute.

These are two-year positions, given satisfactory progress in the first year. We offer an annual salary of $49,000 plus benefits, and a discretionary fund of $5,000/year to support research costs and travel. Postdocs will also have opportunities for professional development (e.g., media and communications training). Expected start date is September 1, 2018.

About the Gund Institute:

The Gund Institute is a newly expanded campus-wide center for interdisciplinary research, where more than 100 faculty, global affiliates, post-docs, and graduate students collaborate widely to understand the interactions among natural, social, and economic systems. Consistent with the mission of the Institute, we pursue projects that both advance research frontiers and address concrete environmental issues.

Eligibility and application:

Candidates must have completed their PhD by the expected start date, and no earlier than 5 years before it. Competitive candidates will have a strong record of success in their PhD program, a demonstrated commitment to interdisciplinary work, a keen interest in connecting research to policy and decisions, and high potential to become global leaders in sustainability.

If interested, first contact potential advisors from among the Gund Fellows to discuss your ideas. The best proposals are typically co-developed with potential advisors. Submit an online application by March 15, 2018, including a cover letter, CV, and research proposal.

Applications also require a letter of support from a proposed advisor. These should be emailed directly toJeannine.Valcour@uvm.edu by the applicant’s proposed advisor by March 15. Applications will be evaluated on scientific merit, potential for real-world impact, excellence of the applicant, fit with Gund Institute research themes, and feasibility.

About the University of Vermont:

The University of Vermont (UVM) is the only comprehensive university in the state and Vermont’s land-grant institution. UVM enrolls 13,000 students, including 1,500 graduate students, and attracts more than $138 million in research awards annually. The campus overlooks Lake Champlain, between the Adirondack and Green mountains, and is surrounded by the small, historical city of Burlington, perennially voted one of America’s best places to live. UVM is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Applications from women and people from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds are encouraged.

For more info: https://www.uvm.edu/gund/postdoctoral-fellows


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Filed under anthropology, postdocs, sustainability

A Food Anthropologist at the John Dewey Kitchen Institute

Rachel Black
President, Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Connecticut College

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the John Dewey Kitchen Institute at the University of Vermont. The goal of this three-day workshop was to “emphasize experiential education, of course in teaching about food but also as an important pedagogical approach for teaching any subject.” As a long-time believer and practitioner of hands-on learning, I was eager to hone skills and think more about how to create opportunities for experiential learning in my anthropology of food classes.

Getting our senses warmed up straight away, we passed around, smelled and identified plates of herbs and spices. The instructors then asked the 12 participants to think of a life experience we could relate to a specific herb or spice. These flavorful narratives were a great way to get to know each other. At this point, we also began to discuss John Dewey’s philosophy of education, which would provide the underpinnings for our activities and reflections over the next few days. Instructors Lisa Heldke and Cynthia Belliveau gave the class a list of 12 Deweyan tenets. These ranged from “Education is experience” to “Enquiry is value-laden”. The tenets were an attempt to answer the questions: “What does it mean to learn, and how should that understanding inform our teaching and learning in the food studies classroom?” and “What is the world like, how does inquiry work, and how should these inform our teaching/learning?”


Using all our senses to think about lunch at the Dewey Kitchen Institute.

After a brief kitchen orientation, we engaged in our first hands-on activity–knife skills. We were instructed how to chop onions and carrots and then given knives, cutting boards and ingredients. What became quickly apparent was the amount of focus the activity took, whether you were a professional chef or someone who eats out for most meals. This is when I began to understand that the goal here was not learning to cook but rather cooking to learn. It was the reflection on the embodiment of skill and the presence of the mind in the body that resonated with me in this first lab. This activity was focused on the fifth tenet “play”: “Far from being trivial, play is “interested absorption in activity for the sake of activity itself.”

A diagram of mise en place.

A diagram of mise en place.

The next day we discussed the concept of mise en place and how this type of kitchen organization task might be used to get students to think about planning and organization in new ways. As we drew out our mise en place, I began to think about the spatial relationships between sensory experiences. That was a new dimension for me. I never really gave much thought to where I put my ingredients and why. After some reflection, we  began to prepare lunch. This was an activity that not only fed us but taught us to think about divisions of labor and timing in the kitchen. This activity could be seen as an exercise in “education as a practice of democracy”. Having to organize ourselves and work together put this tenet in to action. I began to think about all the applications for such skills beyond the kitchen.

We did a number of tastings in the course, from the herbs on the first day to local craft beers on the last day. We were not provided with tasting sheets but we did discuss the different ways in which we might structure tastings in order to achieve specific learning outcomes. Here we explored the tenet “theory is practice” and how “when theory and practice operate together effectively, learners act reflectively and inquiringly, with a sense of purpose and for the sake of learning.”

On the last day, we were given a market basket and asked to cook lunch in teams. We were told that our dish had to embody one of the Dewey tenets. This was a challenging culinary and organizational task. My partner and I focused on “chance and change.” Although we ultimately produced some tasty poached eggs on toast with a romesco sauce, we felt that the experience was mediated by this tenet: we did not know what we would get for ingredients, what would happen in the cooking process, and we felt the need to adapt to the unexpected.

As an anthropologist, I kept thinking about the ways I could introduce cultural diversity in to these exercises. While Dewey’s philosophy is second nature to most of us who do fieldwork, this workshop was an opportunity to bring the worlds of food studies and anthropology together. As I prepare my courses for the fall semester, I will be thinking of ways to bring experiential learning scenarios in to my anthropology of food courses.


Cooking to learn.


Filed under anthropology, anthropology of food, food education, Food Studies, teaching