Dr. Elizabeth Olson, associate professor of anthropology and associate director for the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Southern Utah University, teaches the Practicum in Anthropology course at SUU (ANTH 4350). This course presents students with the opportunity to engage in applied anthropology and carry out a community-based research project as a team. This year her class chose to investigate the topic of food insecurity.
“Food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to sufficient and nutritious food,” said Dr. Olson. “What my class researched and proposed for Cedar City is to support a medium-scale, managed, community farm in partnership with the Care and Share.”
With 21% of Iron County living in poverty, and 17.9% food insecure, the issue proved to be relevant and local.
“The students in ANTH 4350 had to work very hard and very fast to incorporate anthropological theories and research strategies to a locally-relevant public health issue. Their approach was multi-pronged, and after many conversations with community leaders and organizations, they realized that there is a genuine need for a community garden.”
“The benefits of community gardens are vast and depend on the context and purpose of each specific garden. There are benefits to individual health, environmental health, and overall social well-being for all of those who participate or receive the produce.”
More information about the future Cedar City community gardens can be found at the 2019 Feria de la Salud.
Dr. Olson's anthropological research has looked at traditional healing systems in Utah, the Bolivian Amazon, and Mexico, leading her to focus on the intersections among health, environments, and economic markets. She is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit her profile.
Elizabeth Olson Associate Professor of Anthropology
Specializing in medical and environmental anthropology, ethnobotany, and Indigenous medicinal plants