Dr. Robert Valgenti, Associate Professor of Philosophy, has been invited to take part in the Menus of Change Research Collaborative (MCRC), a working group of scholars and food experts whose goal is to engage universities in the advancement of healthier, more sustainable life-long food choices among students. The MCRC is an outgrowth of the Menus of Change (www.menusofchange.org) initiative launched in 2012 by the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Valgenti’s invitation to the Research Collaborative is recognition for the E.A.T. (Engage, Analyze, Transform) Research Group he founded in 2013. This undergraduate research group has two goals: to improve the dining experience for students, and to dissolve the boundaries between the dining and academic spaces on campus. Specifically, E.A.T. uses data-driven research to promote and assess the goals of ethical reasoning, intercultural competence, healthful living, and environmental sustainability. E.A.T. is comprised of a group of undergraduate student researchers, a faculty advisor, and the director of Metz Culinary Management.
The cooperation between EAT and Metz Culinary Management is in many ways the sort of academic/professional collaboration the MCRC wants to inspire and institute across the country and its college campuses. In particular, the research project conducted by Ashley Smith ’15 (Experience More, Waste Less) was cited by the MCRC as an example of a successful sustainability initiative that transformed students’ eating behaviors and practices.