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Vanderbilt University program introduces students to the real-world context of coffee


NASHVILLE, Tennessee –In the 2020-2021 academic year, the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities (RPWC), Vanderbilt University, and the Wond’ry will enable students to discover how diverse fields of study apply in the real-world context of coffee. Have you ever wondered who first figured out how to roast and steep coffee beans to make the beverage many of us consume daily? Are you curious about how coffee changed the course of history, spawning democratic ideals in some places along with oppressive systems of labor in others?

Have you ever imagined the complex web of workers, farmers, shippers, corporations, and national economies that interact to put that cup of coffee in your hand? Do you ever consider how your tastes and choices in coffee shape the lives of others in your community, your region, and far beyond?

Do you want to use your coursework at Vanderbilt to make meaningful change in global industries after you graduate?

Through workshops and speaker events, research and experiential learning opportunities, and hands-on design projects, students will examine the complex sociocultural, economic, environmental and political circumstances that shape the global coffee supply chain.

Students will see how their everyday choices can contribute to inclusive economies, healthy environments, and social and environmental justice. This will lead students to develop their sense of agency in generating social and environmental change as individuals, scholars, and professionals. Students will also gain opportunities to explore how they may apply their Vanderbilt education to meaningful careers in the future.

Opportunities to Get Involved

The partnership will offer a variety of in-person and virtual activities that foster intellectual inquiry, experiential learning, and civic engagement for undergraduate students. Activities planned for the 2020-21 academic year include:

  1. Coffee Speaker Series (Fall 2020): A 3-part workshop series introducing Vanderbilt students to the interdisciplinary world of coffee.
  2. Coffee Experiential Learning Workshops (Fall 2020): A 3-part experiential learning series that introduces students to the past, present, and future of coffee through tastings, brewing lessons, sensory experiments, and more.
  3. Designing for Coffee, a DIVE Co-Curricular (Spring 2020): Students will complete a semester-long research design and systems thinking project that either advances knowledge about the global coffee industry or provides new capabilities to a coffee industry partner committed to advancing meaningful social or environmental change in the industry.

To learn more: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/rpw_center/CoffeeCohort.php