This program will explore cooperative community food systems and their role in larger movements for food justice. Academic studies will focus on the role of cooperative organizing and mutual aid in building sustainable and just food systems. There will be weekly workshops and learning activities on cooperative history, structures, and leadership. Essential questions include: how can workers-owners organize cooperatively in a highly stratified, hierarchical society and food system? As crises of climate change, racial injustice, economic inequality, and a pandemic converge, how do cooperatives offer a more resilient, socially and ecologically sustainable alternative to conventional business? How can mutual aid be part of larger movements for justice? Resiliency studies, solidarity economics, cooperative business management, and food justice are pertinent areas of this program.
This program will provide students with applied learning opportunities in food service, cooperative development, and food justice. *Following COVID safety guidelines, applied hybrid (combination of online and in-person) learning options are available for students, who have the opportunity to design their own cooperative community food system project, which can include collaborations with the following partners:
- Flaming Eggplant: Contributing to a cooperatively-run mutual aid kitchen project on campus that helps re-establish The Flaming Eggplant in collaboration with Student Activities and the Basic Needs Resource Center.
- Slow Food Oly: An internship with Slow Food Olympia where students will have the opportunity to document the histories and stories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) farmers, chefs, and food processors in the South Sound region. Students who select this project will also complete methodological training in historical and qualitative research. This project can be completed fully remote.
- The Thurston County Food Bank & the Kiwanis Food Bank Gardens: Volunteering at these sites along with helping develop partnerships to support the Flaming Eggplant mutual aid kitchen.
The program will be divided into approximately 8 credits of academic work and 8 credits of applied learning (through one of the projects above). Students will have the option of pursuing academic credits in the following areas: food justice and anti-oppression education, cooperative leadership, and community-engaged research methods.
Learning modalities include a combination of asynchronous (self-paced through Canvas), synchronous (scheduled meetings through Zoom) online learning activities, and if conditions allow, options for cooperative hybrid (in-person and online) group projects. Regular Zoom class activities include workshops, seminars, and meetings. Seminar discussions will take place through Discussion Boards on Canvas as well, where students will also be able to access weekly modules that include pre-recorded faculty presentations and other program materials.
To successfully participate in this program, students will need a laptop or computer with speakers, a microphone, and a camera (preferable) as well as internet access. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 6-8 hours of synchronous coursework per week, using Zoom and Canvas. Our approach will emphasize participation in synchronous (live) sessions; however, if students find themselves unable to participate due to technology, caregiving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.
Course Reference Numbers
food systems, cooperative leadership, business management, communications, human resources, organizational systems, sustainable development, community organizing