Commentary by Linda Snetselaar for the Iowa City Press-Citizen
Linda Snetselaar, associate provost for outreach and engagement. (photo by Tom Jorgensen/UI)
The University of Iowa’s Food for Thought Theme Semester is a program that will launch Tuesday and run throughout the spring semester. It will connect academics, local communities and individual Iowans through something we can all relate to: food.
The notion of a theme semester emerged as a way to engage across campus, across disciplines and across Iowa’s bountiful landscape to bring together diverse perspectives and cultural experiences to gain a richer understanding of the role food plays in our health, our cultures and our sense of community. The first annual theme semester was developed from partnerships across campus and is housed in the Provost’s Office of Outreach and Engagement. It is through the collaboration of many individuals that this idea came to fruition and we are looking forward to the many conversations our community can have surrounding the topic of food.
I’ve spent my professional life trying to understand what we eat, what we feed our families and how we can enhance health in our communities. My research has included investigations into changes in dietary intakes to prevent or alter disease complications, and has involved study participants from cities and towns all across Iowa. One of the courses I teach is titled Global Nutrition Policy, and it focuses on ways in which community entities can foster policies that lead to healthier decisions. My current work as associate provost of outreach and engagement — and especially the Food for Thought theme semester — builds on this lifelong commitment to improve community life and educate students for civic and social responsibility.
I invite you to be a member of the audience Tuesday when WorldCanvass guests devour the topic of food at FilmScene, 118 East College St. I will participate on one of the panels with moderator Joan Kjaer, and will share more information about theme semester and upcoming events.
In addition to the WorldCanvass event, I will partake in activities throughout the semester. On Feb. 22, I will present the 32nd annual presidential lecture titled “Food, Culture, and Community.” My presentation will be a culmination of my experience in nutrition research in communities as well as work with families in encouraging healthy eating.
We hope the Food for Thought Theme Semester will inspire new dialogue and the development of food-related activities, both in person and online. Please join us Tuesday for WorldCanvass and visit our website, http://foodforthought.uiowa.edu, where you can find a full listing of upcoming events and join the online conversation.
Linda Snetselaar is the University of Iowa associate provost for outreach and engagement.
‘Food for Thought’
Find a full listing of theme semester events at http://foodforthought.uiowa.edu.
Some of the featured events of the 2015 spring theme semester include:
•10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 20: Kristin Porter, blogger and creator of Iowa Girl Eats, will discuss her award-winning blog and sampling six of her recipes.
•5 to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20: WorldCanvass, with host Joan Kjaer, will bring together chefs, restaurateurs, foodies, experts in public health and cultural studies, and others to explore the ways in which food affects us as individuals and binds us as communities. Pre-show reception is at 4 p.m. This event is free and open to the public and is held at FilmScene in downtown Iowa City.
•7:30 p.m. Feb. 2: Cookbook author and journalist Mark Bittman will give a lecture at The Englert Theater. This event is free and open to the public. Please consider bringing a canned food donation this evening to benefit HACAP and local food pantries. In addition, Bittman will host a student discussion at the College of Public Health from 2 to 3 p.m. This is open to all interested students.
•3:30 p.m. Feb. 22: Linda Snetselaar will present the 32nd Annual Presidential Lecture titled “Food, Culture and Community” at the Levitt Center, Fourth Floor Assembly Hall. The presentation will focus on what we eat, what to feed our families, and how to enhance health in our communities.
•April 17-18: Hancher and Working Group Theater presents “All Recipes are Home,” a play written by Working Group Theater that tells a story grounded in Iowa. The play will also be touring in Decorah and Grinnell.
•April 18: Food for Thought Theme Semester Symposium, an event grounded in our academic excellence and will explore different disciplines. A diverse group of faculty and community members will facilitate four different sessions.