ERIC Number: EJ851041
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: N/A
Learning to Eat: Who Knew the Ivory Tower Had a Kitchen?
New England Journal of Higher Education, v24 n1 p12-13 Sum 2009
Beating the competition with restaurant-style dining, wood-fired pizza ovens, espresso machines and organic vegetables is one of many ways for colleges to attract and hold the best and brightest. It also seems that fond food memories fuel alumni associations, which increase attendance at reunions and boost giving. But is it just an arms race with escalating levels of gourmet ingredients? Or can a dining program make a legitimate contribution to the educational environment? At Bowdoin College, it can, and does. Not just an amenity, the cafeterias serve as an important gathering place where people from different disciplines can exchange ideas in an informal, relaxed environment. At dinner time and during the late-night meal called SuperSnack, Thorne Hall, which is the largest dining hall at Bowdoin, takes on the feeling of a noisy block party. Music plays, and young people chat and move among tables. Because students spend most of their day in intense classes or in front of their laptop computers, they look forward to the opportunity to mix and mingle. Many students say that after graduation they will miss the feeling that every night, they can just walk into a place and know there will be friends to sit with--a sense of community they fear will be largely absent in post-academic life. The dining operation is often used by faculty to illustrate the "real" world for the students. The organic chemistry class may make bread in the bakeshop. Plant physiology students might be on their knees in the dirt in the organic garden. Sociology students will sit down with cooks and dishwashers to measure their happiness quotient. Art students paint a cubist homage in the cafe. Making these connections allows students to broaden their knowledge and pull their heads out of their books, and brings dining employees even closer to students. The author contends that if the goal of a liberal arts education is to prepare students to make thoughtful life choices from a broad base of information, then it seems appropriate to have a dining program with aspirations to expose students to a life of healthy eating habits, a variety of foods from all different cultures, the integrity of a local community and the importance of sharing quality time with friends.
Descriptors: Food Service, Private Colleges, Dining Facilities, Integrated Activities, Holistic Approach
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.nebhe.org/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maine