New minor unifies food and culture in sustainable food systems

A new sustainable food systems minor is being offered this fall at Cal Poly Humboldt. 

The minor is a product of the USDA grant funded project La Comida Nos Une. The four year, $250,000 USDA Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grant funded project aims to, “improve degree completion and graduation rates to close equity gaps between Hispanic and other students,” according to the USDA’s website. The grant project includes plans for course enhancement and faculty learning communities  

Susan Edinger Marshall, the advisor for the minor and director for the grant proposal, sees the minor as leading to many related fields.

“You could be a farmer, you could be a rancher, you could be a fisherman,” said Marshall. “Students can be on the front end of the food production or they can innovate new food products for sale.” 

Marshall sees the program as an important space for underrepresented students.

“It’s important for students to feel welcome in the community and it’s important for them to stay,” Marshall said.

The minor hopes to gear conversations and teachings in the class to be more culturally responsive to Latinx students through these faculty learning communities. Rafael Cuevas Uribe from the department of Fisheries Biology teaches Mariculture and Aquaculture classes listed in the minor. 

“This minor supports Latinx students by having experiential learning opportunities as a key component of the minor,” Uribe said. “These paid internships with community food system partners will allow students to develop the skills necessary to work on food systems-related jobs.” 

While the internships are still under development, Marshall said that the hopes are to get Latinx students to engage with the Humboldt community through local food systems and help the community to see the value of the students at Humboldt. 

The minor requires 18 units of core classes across a variety of disciplines including Indigenous Natural Resource Management, Case Studies in Environmental Ethics and Basic Human Nutrition, according to the minor requirements page on the university website.  

The core curriculum for the minor also includes Anthropology 308: Sustainable Food Systems, a new class scheduled to be ready for students to enroll in spring 2023. Marshall anticipates more student interest and enrollment in the minor once instruction begins for the new class.

Marshall said, “It’s important for students to feel welcome in the community and it’s important for them to stay.” 

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