Chancellor Carmen Fariña Visits Steinhardt’s Summer School

It tastes great, but is it good for you?

Students from the University Neighborhood Middle School (UNMS) are tackling this question in an elective summer program hosted by the Steinhardt School. The program, developed by teachers at UNMS and administered through a grant to UNMS and NYU’s Metro Center, helps students to explore their relationship to food through an interdisciplinary unit focused on sugar.

The three-week curriculum includes tasks to help students understand the role sugar plays in our lives and culture, and looks at sugar from historical, political, economic, social, and scientific perspectives.

Today, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (Steinhardt ’65) stopped by NYU to see the summer program in action. Students were reading from Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science, and discussing it with their teachers.

When asked by Chancellor Fariña what they’ve learned this summer, students shared that sugar is in almost all foods, and it also has historical ties to war and slavery.

“Looking at what we eat is important,” Fariña told the students. “By the time you finish this whole investigation on sugar, try to figure out what are you going to do differently — I know at my dining room table, we don’t serve soda.”

The summer program also involved a trip to a supermarket for data collection how much sugar is actually in different foods, as well as lessons on the digestive system and the science of sugar.

“Our young learners will recognize that all the subjects work together in creating understanding and meaning, as they become informed consumers who can weigh the impact of their decisions on health, society, and the environment,” Laura Peynado, principal of UNMS, wrote in the description of the program.

Next summer’s program will focus on another controversial yet critical element found in nearly all of our food: salt.

Photos: Debra Weinstein