Full-Scale Development: In Defense of Food

September 15th, 2012 - August 31st, 2015 | PROJECT

In Defense of Food (IDOF) is a media and outreach project based on Michael Pollan's best-selling book of the same title. Through the lens of food science, IDOF is designed to engage diverse audiences in learning about: (1) how science research is conducted, (2) how research findings are used in media, marketing, and public policy, and (3) how to apply food science research in everyday life. IDOF will be created by Kikim Media, an independent production company, broadcast and distributed by PBS and supported by an extensive outreach campaign and interactive website. The project's educational materials will be developed, in part, by the Teacher's College at Columbia University's Center for Food and Nutrition, with dissemination supported by the Coalition for Science After School and by Tufts University's Healthy Kids Out of School initiative, which involves nine of the leading out of school time (OST) organizations, such as Girl Scouts USA, and the National Urban League. The project advisory committee includes highly respected researchers in food, nutrition, and health. IDOF will use an integrated strategy of learning resources, combining a television documentary with online/social media, community outreach, and youth activities. Knight Williams Research Communications will conduct formative and summative evaluation of all major components of the project. The results will advance the informal science community's understanding of how the combination of a documentary with outreach, website/social media, and afterschool activities impacts motivation and learning. The evaluation study will pay special attention to the degree to which participation in the community events, social media/website, and afterschool activities motivates deeper or extended engagement with the subject. Project evaluation results and educational resources will be widely disseminated to the informal science community. IDOF includes a two-hour documentary film that will be produced in both English and Spanish; a community-level outreach campaign focused on reaching underserved audiences who may not watch public television; a set of activities for use in afterschool programs, youth programs and schools; and an interactive and content-rich website with tightly integrated social media tools. IDOF will be nationally broadcast by PBS; the Spanish-language version of IDOF will be broadcast by Vme Television. The ambitious IDOF educational materials and outreach campaign, combined with interactive web and social media, will reach large and diverse audiences. The intended impacts on audiences include increased knowledge and understanding of the scientific process by learning what food scientists do, what techniques they use, and how scientists arrive at their conclusions; the development of critical thinking skills audiences can use when evaluating messages about food and nutrition in media and advertising and when making decisions about what food to buy and eat; and becoming active learners and consumers regarding food. Evaluation results will be widely disseminated to science media producers and the informal science community via professional publications and presentations at conferences. The ultimate value of the In Defense of Food documentary and learning initiative will be to enhance public understanding of the crucial importance of science in people's everyday lives and in shaping dozens of daily decisions.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products

In Defense of Food: Recruited Viewer Study
In Defense of Food Summative Evaluation Report: Event coordinator and attendee engagement
In Defense of Food Summative Evaluation Report: Educator engagement with and reflections on the In Defense of Food curriculum

Team Members

Michael Schwarz, Principal Investigator, Kikim Media, LLC


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1224172
Funding Amount: $1,750,000


Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities
Audience: Educators | Teachers | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Health and medicine | History | policy | law | Nature of science
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Afterschool Programs | Broadcast Media | Community Outreach Programs | Media and Technology | Public Programs