published July 24, 2013

University of North Carolina Asheville to Receive 2013 William E. Bennett Team Award

The 2013 recipients of the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science are a team of University of North Carolina Asheville faculty members: Ellen Bailey (foreign languages), David Clarke (biology), Amy Lanou (health and wellness), Leah Matthews (economics), Karin Peterson (sociology), Jason Wingert (health and wellness), and Sally Wasileski (chemistry). The award will be presented by SENCER co-founder, Karen Oates, at the SENCER Summer Institute 2013 at Santa Clara University on August 2nd.

The Bennett Award, given by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, recognizes the team's work and accomplishments in the Asheville's Integrative Liberal Studies Topical Cluster, "Food for Thought." This cluster is one of several available for UNC Asheville undergraduates to use in satisfaction of their non-lab science, social science and elective requirement within a thematic arrangement of courses. Clusters allow students to explore contemporary issues, problems and questions through widely ranging disciplinary lenses, including those of the sciences, so as to open up possibilities for inquiry across domains of knowledge and practice.

The Food for Thought Cluster focuses on developing the student as an informed consumer of food by providing a platform for discussion of what we eat, why we eat, where our food comes from, and how food affects our bodies and health. Natural science courses explore the physical, chemical and biological aspects of food during storage, preparation and consumption, how it gives our bodies energy and how it affects health. Social science courses explore the economic, social, cultural, and political issues of food production, distribution, preparation, and consumption, as well as relationships between food and disease. As a result of their wide-ranging curriculum development work, outstanding performance in the classroom, community-engaged activity, assessment and scholarship on integrative learning outcomes, the faculty members in this cluster now serve as institutional role models for our other cluster faculty.

"Their leadership and highly coordinated collaboration across the courses and disciplines in the Food Cluster has led to growing interest among faculty of all ranks in creation of new topical clusters, particularly those involving open inquiry, active learning pedagogies, study abroad, and undergraduate research," notes Dr. Edward Katz, Asheville's associate provost and dean of University programs. "Dr. Wasileski's lab course for non-majors, Food for Thought, was also selected a SENCER national model in 2008," he added.

According to Keith Krumpe, dean of natural sciences and professor of chemistry at Asheville, the award-winning faculty team, "designed and implemented an outstanding direct and indirect assessment model, which has produced data demonstrating the value of interdisciplinary learning that connects the sciences to non-science disciplines."

In addition, Krumpe reports, "this group of dedicated faculty has created a rich array of co-curricular projects, including a multi-course community dinner in which students prepare meals that reflect a variety of consumer-based foundations (organic, whole food, budget/lower-socioeconomic, and others) and require student research and presentations; a community-based research project and collaboration with the North Asheville Tailgate Market, which includes bringing this tailgate market to our campus; and another set of undergraduate research projects with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. This team of faculty has presented numerous papers on the pedagogy and learning outcomes of this approach to teaching, and they have published their research."

"We are delighted to make this award to the Asheville team," said David Burns, NCSCE's executive director, in announcing the award. "They exemplify the ideals of the Bennett Award and they have done the extraordinary work. Their accomplishments make them worthy of the legacy of the extraordinary man for whom the award is named."

"We are sorry that Bill Bennett will not be with us at Santa Clara this summer," Burns noted. "Knowing Bill, however, I am sure he will find a way to express his appreciation to the Asheville team for their great work."