I.S. Spotlight: Brendan Ortiz

A row of crops growing in a greenhouse at Akron Cooperative Farms, where Ortiz ’23 spent last summer last summer teaching a hydroponic workshop. Photo courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal.

“Alternative Methods to Understanding: Promoting Community Food Sovereignty through Value-Driven Education”

My name is Brendan Ortiz, and I will be graduating this year with a degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Food systems. 

I am part of the Environmental Justice Coalition, and I also work in Student Engagement and at the UG too, so come stop by, say hi, and check out our events this semester!

For my research, I did an interdisciplinary I.S. in which I moved through the topics of education, the environment and community food sovereignty. I have been looking into how higher levels of critical awareness (political, social, cultural, environmental, etc.) might be achieved by learning through our natural environments. 

My first chapter does a lot of theoretical research looking into ways of experiential learning and radical education, Chapter two highlights my summer experience teaching a hydroponic workshop at Akron Cooperative Farms, Chapter three then introduces the environment, and the implications of industrial food systems, examining what exactly is needed to help smallholders promote sustainable food sovereignty! So, it moves throughout a couple different things.

But at the same time, I’d say taking the time for such a deep dive into these topics is what I’ve enjoyed the most about this process. And if I were to give some advice, it would definitely be to take some time away from your I.S., make sure to enjoy the little things in life too. Everybody needs to take breaks, and sometimes these are the most helpful to your writing process!

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