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October 26, 2023

A Rich Menu for Food Studies and More at Simon’s Rock

By Emily Berge-Thielmann

A Rich Menu for Food Studies and More at Simon’s RockFaculty member Maryann Tebben keeps busy at Simon’s Rock as a professor of French, the head of the Center for Food Studies, and the director of the recently launched Center for Food and Resilience. If there wasn’t enough on her plate, Tebben also runs the annual ThinkFOOD Conference at Simon’s Rock. Currently in its tenth year, ThinkFOOD will be held on Saturday, November 4.

“We want to think about how to support farmers in the Berkshires and beyond to create a functional local food system that feeds everyone fairly,” says Tebben on this year’s conference theme: Making Local Farming Work. The aim of ThinkFOOD is to give all who attend, virtually and in person, new perspectives on food, farming, and resiliency. Perfectly in theme, Ashley Randle, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) will give the keynote address.

Of course, education in food and farming extend year-round at Simon’s Rock. The Center for Food Studies, run by Tebben, launched in 2013 with the aim to advance the community’s knowledge of food as a cultural force and awareness of our responsibilities as stewards of a sustainable food system. The Center’s educational mission promotes an understanding of the world, both on campus and beyond, by providing a forum for collaboration, communication, and learning across the wide world of food. And if that wasn’t enough, the Center for Food Studies also offers an entire course just on cheese, taught by Tebben. 

In addition to the annual conference and traditional (and nontraditional) classes, the Center for Food Studies also strives to collaborate with community partners on sponsored lectures and other educational events across the Berkshires. 

Much like the Center for Food Studies, choosing a concentration in Food Studies can lead to so much more than one might expect. This is because, to put it simply, everybody eats. Studying everything from crop growth to a finished meal on the kitchen table, food studies can bridge a multitude of academic fields including ecology, agriculture, social studies, environmental law, and other creative disciplines. In the current world, food studies can also be a political discipline, delving into sustainability, food justice, public health, and more. 

The Center for Food Studies at Simon’s Rock isn’t limited to just the Simon’s Rock campus. As a partner of Open Society University Network (OSUN), these courses are open to students all over the world. OSUN is a network of top international academic institutions, led by Bard College and Central European University, and a big presence in the Simon’s Rock community. The OSUN Certificate in Food Studies, specifically offered only from Simon’s Rock, provides a path for students to deepen their theoretical and applied knowledge of food studies with particular emphasis on sustainability and local practices. 

Want to learn more about the ThinkFOOD conference and the Simon’s Rock Center for Food Studies and their certification with OSUN? 

Visit the following links for more information: 


“Making Local Farming Work”
Location: Fisher Science Center at Simon’s Rock and online via Zoom
November 4, 2023

Center for Food Studies

OSUN Certificate in Food Studies