Mapping Sustainability Ethnography (MSE)

Mapping Sustainability Ethnography (MSE)

The objective is to explore available food and sustainability options in your community, and to write reviews of a local business with a clear focus on sustainability.  This is an opportunity to explore diversity from a whole other angle, and you can be creative in your interpretation of diversity for this assignment.  For example, organic farmers are a unique sub-culture within our society, as are vegetarians, Mexican Americans, and Indian Americans (to name just a few delicious examples).

Step 1: Choosing a field site.
Students are invited to use the list of resources and potential field sites at the end of this assignment as a starting point for generating ideas.  I encourage you to discuss this assignment with members of your families and communities, and come up with a field site that is not on the list.  You need to choose a site with an explicit focus on sustainability.
Do as much research as possible before going into the field.  Read the website, make some phone calls, tell the owners and employees what you are doing and what you are looking for.  You may get some good insider tips about when to visit and whom to talk to.

Step 2: Take the field trip.
Be an ethnographer.  Engage.  Inquire.  Eat!  Savor.  This is a hands-on, experiential assignment.  Take note of your impressions.  YOU are your research tool (this is not the place for surveys and statistics).

Step 3:  Review.
The reviews should be between 400 and 600 words- proofread, polished, and presented with pride.  You are welcome, but not required, to include pictures.  Your reviews should:
•    Convey the location and date of your field trip.
•    Explain all practices related to sustainability that you were able to observe or learn about.
o    These may include composting, recycling, use of organic and/or local ingredients, fair trade, “green” building, the list goes on…
•    Include highlights and interesting details.  In anthropological writing (ethnography), the richness is in the details.  Choose the most interesting points for your presentation, rather than recounting every minute of your field experience.

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