Meaningful learning requires engaged minds. Undergraduates often frustrate professors when emerging adulthood captures more of their attention than our carefully designed courses. Our challenge involves meeting students where they are, helping them to expand their understanding, but while simultaneously developing their autonomy and critical thinking skills.
Chocolate acts as a vehicle for this transformation.
Chocolate, coffee and other affordable luxuries provide rich ways to teach foundational concepts and make connections across disciplines. For example, in the humanities, one can use chocolate or coffee to investigate the Atlantic slave trade’s history and unfortunate legacy. The sciences might investigate health claims associated with chocolate. Student learning objectives can include open inquiry into diverse subjects (e.g., chemistry, environmental sciences, sustainability, business, economics, social justice, statistics, literature, art, and culture).
In June 2023, the Associated Colleges of the South sponsored a workshop entitled "Chocolate Covered Teaching: An innovative approach to using commodity-based goods to foster cross-disciplinary critical thinking skills in undergraduates." The workshop resulted in several teaching plans across multiple disciplines (click here for the PDF) and I would like to see further develop of this type of network.