Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Biological Sciences

Program or Major

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Jessica Bolker

Second Advisor

Carrie Hall


As the American public school system is currently designed, the average student is likely to graduate high school without ever having received any formal instruction regarding the food system in which he or she takes part as a consumer. Such instruction was not necessary up until the current era of separation between consumers and food production. Through this research project, I sought to demonstrate the effectiveness of a single introductory lesson on the issues confronting the modern American food system, which I taught to two high school biology classrooms. A pre-survey was taken by the high school biology students online prior to the day of the food system lesson, which was followed by the in-class administration of a post-survey consisting of the same questions. The results of the two surveys, which generated both quantitative and qualitative data, were compared to determine high school students’ background in food system education. The data indicated that students did not know much about food systems, but also that they wanted to learn. In this thesis, I argue for the consideration of the subject of food systems as part of the realm of crucial general knowledge, a form of knowledge that should at the very least be offered as an elective option in high schools across the country for the purpose of yielding future generations of informed and engaged consumers.