We designed a cross-unit academic program in which students are trained in interdisciplinary behavior change research and experiment with evidence-based interventions to shift student food consumption behavior on campus.
This project used Arizona State University (ASU) as a living lab for a long-term interdisciplinary student-led research based intervention program on sustainable food consumption behaviors. While each of these different components by themselves are well-tested (research-based learning, interdisciplinary education, living labs), they had yet to be integrated to create a curriculum that prepares students to intervene in food consumption behaviors on campus. Our approach focused on interventions in high-impact sustainable food consumption behaviors on campus as an opportunity for convergence research, cross-unit collaboration, and interdisciplinary education.
The course curriculum was developed using mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative research methods) and address the following research questions: (1) What are the competences that upper undergraduate and graduate students need to have to be able to design, deliver and evaluate effective interventions to change food behaviors? (2) What different building blocks from different disciplines are conducive to building this skillset? (3) How can these building blocks be integrated in an effective curriculum, and offered as part of a broader cross-unit program?
Curriculum development and course design was informed by a a literature review to better understand what drivers and barriers exist in sustainable food consumption in student populations on campus. Additionally, we conducted stakeholder / expert interviews in which we talked with stakeholders intervening on campus about their experiences and their views on what a curriculum should address and prioritize. Following the literature review and interviews, we synthesized the findings and reviewed them in light of a key competences framework to develop learning objectives. We then validated the learning objectives and identified disciplinary building blocks through running a Delphi study with on-campus faculty. After validation and modification, we developed a pilot curriculum, implemented it in a workshop class, and researched its effectiveness.
The project was funded through seed grants from ASU’s Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems and ASU’s SIRF (Sustainability Initiatives Revolving Fund) with a total budget of USD 10,000.