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Interview with Peggy Bartlett (Fall 2009 Article)

Meet Peggy Barlett. Anthropology professor, faculty liaison
to the Office of Sustainability Initiatives, and researcher on
the side, Professor Barlett has a lot on her plate. As chair of
the Sustainable Food Committee, Professor Barlett serves
as main coordinator for the Sustainable Food Fair at Emory
during the fall. Before coming to Emory, Barlett attended
graduate school at Columbia University with the intent of doing
economic development work and fostering social change
through this area of study. Two years later, she joined the
faculty here at Emory and helped build the anthropology department.
Her early research focused on agricultural development
in Costa Rica and Georgia, and she continues to
explore the cultural movement toward sustainability with her
anthropology students. These students also help out with
The Sustainable Food Fair.
Dr. Barlett was also involved in the beginnings of the Educational
Gardens Project, the brainchild of former biology
professor Chad Brommer. The Sustainable Food Committee,
made up of students, teachers and faculty, oversees the
project and takes care of the gardens. The project consists
of seven different plots where food and flowers are grown
to reflect the changing of the seasons and the types of local
food grown during each one.
The Office of Sustainability coordinates most of the sustainability
initiatives on campus. One of their main goals
is for 75 percent of all the food served in Emory hospitals
and cafeterias to be locally or sustainably grown by the year
2015. Another organization that Barlett is involved with is
the Piedmont Project, a collaboration of faculty members
and graduate students who work to incorporate the topic of
sustainability into the Emory curriculum. This group supports professors who wish to develop new courses that incorporate components of sustainability in their departments.
The Piedmont Project was further expanded to help faculty leaders from other schools around the country to facilitate their own curriculum changes, centered around
sustainability, through the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education.
One of the reasons Professor Barlett was chosen
for this article is that she is one of the few teachers
who is not solely involved in the theoretical academic
world, but who is actually partaking in activities outside the
classroom to make a difference in the community. When
asked about maintaining this balance between teaching and
actively attempting to change our society, Barlett responded,
“The difference is that now, many of the things that I do in
my personal life—go to a benefit for sustainable food, for example—
are more connected to my professional interests.”
She enjoys working with people at Emory and around the
country, and is very satisfied to be part of such an incredible
moment in history.
-Lauren Borrelli


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