Changing Lives through Food and Farming

By: Morten Kromann Nielsen  

The paper discusses findings from a doctoral research project on the interplay between pedagogical practice and agency, learning and identity formation in the American youth food justice movement. The theoretical framework draws on educational anthropology and critical youth studies the intersection between critical pedagogy and environmental education. The research questions focus on the impact of the farming framework for the educational activities with a special interest in the relation between a staff role design management perspective and a youth agency, learning and identity construction perspective. The methodology in the study is an anthropological case study of a specific Californian youth food justice program with a long term fieldwork with participant observations and ethnographic interviews as main methods. The main finding is the way the pedagogical practice is designed to use the food and farming framework as a pedagogical resource for two main agendas – job training and food justice. A central element is the way staff and youth roles are dynamically constructed. As staff roles change from being employers to mentors, partners and friends the youth learning process changes from being primarily focused on skills and work ethic to become more identity formative, expressed as increased self-confidence and ‘life changing’. The analysis points to the youth food justice movement as a context where central criticisms directed towards both critical pedagogy and American environmental education can be met as well as these informal educational contexts as having big potentials for democratic participation by supporting marginalized youth in becoming agents of change.

Food Justice, Pedagogy
Food, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Morten Kromann Nielsen

-, -, University College Lillebaelt, Denmark
Denmark, Denmark

I am an associate professor in educational anthropology at program for Food, Body and Learning in Center for Applied School and Education Research, University College Lillebaelt, Odense, Denmark. My research interests are food and farming as vehicles for pedagogy, learning and identity construction and education for sustainable development.