Food and Culture: Using the Study of Foodways to Promote Multicultural Understanding

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This presentation will discuss "The Development of American Cuisine" and its impact on multicultural competencies of the students. As part of the Food and Culture Project in the Department of Hotel, Restaurant, Institution Management and Dietetics and the College of Education at Kansas State University, the course was re-designed to enhance multicultural awareness and understanding of students in education, dietetics, hotel and restaurant management, and other fields.

The objective of this course was to help students further their understanding and appreciation of class, ethnic, and racial contributions to modern American cuisine. Addressing the question “Is there such a thing as true American cuisine,” students and faculty, undertook an exploration of the history of American cuisine and the impact of cooks, geography, science, religion, immigration, and migration on it.

The curriculum of the course addressed these multicultural competencies: (1)Knowledge: cultural self; diverse ethnic groups; social/political/economic/historical frameworks; changing demographics. (2)Personal Attributes: respect and empathy. (3)Skills: cross-cultural communication; listening; critical thinking.

The Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation (OEIE) served as external evaluators for the Food and Culture Project.The major evaluation questions addressed were: 1. Did college students’ participation in the “American Cuisine” course increase their knowledge of self in culture, ethnic groups, sociopolitical frameworks, and changing demographics? 2. How has college students’ participation in the “American Cuisine” course affected their cross-cultural competencies and critical thinking?


Keywords: Foodways, Multicultural Competencies, Undergraduate Education
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Jane P. Marshall

Instructor, Department of Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Management and Dietetics, Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas, USA

Jane is a journalist and food historian who developed food writing and foodways courses at Kansas State University. She is completing a series of children's books related to historical foodways.

Dr. Linda P. Thurston

Professor and Assistant Dean, College of Education, Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas, USA

Linda is the founding director of The Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation, which provides evaluation services for grants and programs. She is a professor in the Department of Special Education, Student Affairs, and Counseling and is a member of the Women's Studies Faculty at Kansas State University. Her interests are gender issues in education, evaluation, mentoring, and bird-watching.

Ref: L09P0148