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DIVE: Food Waste/Food Deserts

Quick Facts

  • What/Where: Seminars Meet in Rand 305
  • When: TBD
  • Who: All Vanderbilt Students
  • How Much: Students Granted a Limited Budget for Travel & Project Costs
  • Project Leader: Lauren Moon


Program Description:

DIVE Food Waste is a fall semester co-curricular program which explores the increasing challenge of food waste in Nashville and its effects on local communities and the environment, an issue highlighted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Mayor’s Office.  Through DIVE Food Waste, students will focus on efforts similar to that of the Nashville Food Waste Initiative, a pilot of the NRDC, applying human-centered design methodology to address the question: How do we reduce food waste in Nashville?

Beginning with a foundational, design-thinking boot-camp, the initial phase of the program asks students to empathize with stakeholders and to define the essential elements of food waste in Nashville through engaging with and learning from key community partners, including local government agencies, restaurants, community institutions, and retailers. To gain a greater understanding of actual need, students will work with community partners on a weekly basis, participating in capacity-building initiatives, community outreach, and organizational operations.

As understanding deepens through observation and immersion, students will begin the ideation process, identifying an addressable facet of the food waste problem and brainstorming potential solutions. The final programmatic phase sees students working alongside community partners to apply their learning throughout the semester by developing and testing a prototype to serve as a solution to the identified problem. The DIVE Food Waste program will culminate in a student showcase, whereby students will present their work to the campus, their community partners, and the Nashville community.

Community Partners:

Nashville Food Waste Initiative

Nashville Food Project

Society of St. Andrew

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

(and more)


Learning Outcomes:

Through participating in this program students will be able to…

  • Comprehend human-centered design principles
  • Apply human-centered design to formulate a plan, gain deeper understanding, and develop initial solutions
  • Apply human-centered design to prototype, test, and implement solutions to problems
  • Apply human-center design-thinking through service-learning to address community-identified need in Nashville
  • Deconstruct a complex social issue to define and analyze a specific, addressable problem
  • Demonstrate comprehension of service-learning pedagogy through dialogue and reflection
  • Recognize diverse and unique perspectives through research and immersion with a community partner.
  • Increase commitment to peace and social justice
  • Identify and analyze the root problems of food waste in Nashville


Program Components:

  1. DIVE bootcamp
  2. Service-Learning Institute
  3. Bi-weekly seminars + design lab
  4. Assigned readings and media
  5. Weekly service with community partner
  6. Reflection
  7. Development and presentation of a final design-thinking capstone project
  8. Ongoing engagement with incoming students to maintain project sustainability