Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Eileen E. Schell


Community Engagement, Composition, Critical Food Studies, Pedagogy, Rhetoric, Sustainability

Subject Categories

Rhetoric and Composition


Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. Marion Nestle's Food Politics. Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. The films Food, Inc. and The Future of Food. Debates over the industrialized food and farming system currently circulating in nonfiction books, documentaries, and public forums have immediacy for college students--and for anyone who eats. Food for Thought: Sustainability, Community-Engaged Teaching and Critical Food Literacy argues that fostering the development of critical food literacy is necessary for college students to have a voice in current and future public conversations on food politics and environmental sustainability, and the social justice issues attached to both. Engagement with these debates in the writing classroom is one answer to Derek Owens's call in Composition and Sustainability (2000) to bring rich and well-informed scholarship and teaching on issues of sustainability into the field of Rhetoric and Composition. Through two case studies, I address how the interaction between students and local community practitioners of food activism raises the stakes for students' investigative research and deepens their understanding of food systems operating on local, regional, national and global levels. I attend to how this affects writing instruction outcomes, sustainability and critical food literacy learning, students' sense of audience, and the possibility or promotion of public rhetorical action. I also consider how critical food literacy learning fits into the larger project of preparing students for civic participation in any current public debate as informed local and global citizens. This project contributes to and deepens disciplinary knowledge in the areas of critical food literacy, community-engaged pedagogy and sustainability.


Open Access