Food for thought: Exhibitions as critical sites for intervention in schooling food.

Year: 2019

Author: Leahy, Deana, Duhn, Iris, Maher, JaneMaree, Wright, Jan, Supski, Sian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

School food programs have been the object of critical scholarship for some time now. During this time, scholars have repeatedly highlighted the many perils that can, and do, result from attempts to govern food practices in schools. Despite the troubling critiques over time, school food programs and practices appear to have remained relatively immune to the various insights from critical scholarship. Given this, we decided it was time to take a different approach to how we communicate our research findings. Driven by a commitment to social justice and change, inspired by the interdisciplinary constellation of critical health education studies, design sociology, curation and new museology studies we decided to translate our research findings into an interactive exhibition. One of our aims was to explore whether or not exhibition pedagogies provided us with an effective means to communicate our research findings to policy makers, teachers, academics and the broader public. Additionally, we were interested to find out what difference visiting the exhibition made to how people think about school food programs and what might change as a result.

In this workshop we will provide a brief overview of our key findings from our research with families about school food programs via a trip into our VR exhibition We will then go on to outline our rationale for deciding on an exhibition as the pedagogical means by which to disrupt the taken for granted ‘goodness’ that often accompanies school food programs. Drawing on interviews, reflective journals and exhibition artefacts we turn to discuss some of the key learnings that emerged from the exhibition – for the exhibition and research teams, and for our targeted audiences. One of our major findings is that exhibitions do indeed provide us with powerful critical pedagogical spaces for disrupting the taken for granted-ness of school food programs. In addition, though we also found that the key messages of the exhibition, just like school food programs, can get lost in translation and have surprising effects.

After spending time exploring our attempts at research translation for impact we will open the workshop up for participants to share ways in which they have worked to translate their research findings.