FoodGlobal Insight

Gustavus Adolphus College is pleased to introduce Gustavus Global Insight, a campus-wide program in which Gustavus students, faculty and staff will focus on one country, region or global issue during each academic year. The Global Insight program is an academic enrichment one, one which models ways academe and the rest of the world meaningfully intersect. It is designed and intended to encourage the habit of lifelong learning, and lifelong practicing of that learning.

This community project will involve invited speakers, fine arts events, special presentations, service learning opportunities, and of course, class time dedicated to discussions of the focus topic. And in 2010–2011, the topic is FOOD!

Why Food of all things? What insights are possible? Just how is it Global?

Quite simply, along with fresh air and clean water, food/nourishment is a most basic need of all humankind, a need easily filled and taken for granted by many of us but yet a need unfilled and of constant challenge for many, many more.

Wherever in the world we are, Food, and its growing and producing, transporting and distributing, nutrition and other health matters, purchasing and preparing, finances and social ethics and environmental stewardship, and even ‘how does it taste?’ is indeed a common interest of all peoples in all societies. It is particularly timely for Global Insight to examine Food in 2010–11 to complement this Fall’s Nobel Conference “Making Food Good”. This Conference of distinguished scholars and professionals in areas of Nutrition and Plant Diversity and Psychophysics and Economics and Philosophy brings to campus academic inquiry and real world application the question, “What should we eat?”

Dr. Lisa Heldke, renowned food philosopher, Gustavus’ Sponberg Chair of Ethics, and Co-Director of the 2010 Nobel Conference writes: “Daily, we are reminded of the importance of correctly answering this question—a question whose urgency can only partly be accounted for by our rumbling stomachs. Our health is determined to no small extent by our choice of diet—at least for those eaters fortunate enough to be able to make choices. The health of planetary ecosystems similarly depends upon the foods we choose to grow—and how we choose to grow and process them. The economic wellbeing of persons around the globe is, to a significant degree, determined by the workings of the industrial-agricultural food system. If health, ecology and economy aren’t incentive enough, our food choices also bear considerable aesthetic and cultural significance; food is an important vehicle for transmitting and preserving ethnic heritage, regional identity and cultural pride, to say nothing of enjoyment and pleasure. Walking down the aisles of a supermarket, scanning the menu in a restaurant, peering into our refrigerators, we find ourselves asking of our choices, “is it nutritious? Ecologically sustainable? Affordable? Appropriate to my cultural/spiritual beliefs? And will it taste good?”

Why Food? Well, as you’ve just read, it a pretty big deal! What Insights? Not only possible but necessary and critical! How Global? Quintessentially Global!

Welcome to Gustavus Global Insight, welcome to academic inquiry, welcome to FOOD!


Deborah Downs-Miers, Associate Professor of English
Steve Kjellgren, Director of Dining Service