Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Political Science

Additional Departmental Affiliation

School of Journalism and Broadcasting

Document Type



My research project examined sustainable practices in relation to food sources at three universities located along the Pacific Coast of North America. The academic institutions were the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. These schools were selected because while they each foster an abundance of “local” foods and food industries, they represent different stages in the three pillars of sustainability for food practices. My project sought to understand the role of each institution in building a local and sustainable food culture at each university. I analyzed how the food services at and near the institutions reflect the food and nutritional needs and wants of the student body, faculty, and staff of academic institutions and the availability of foods (e.g., healthy, organic, and sustainable) in each area. Using qualitative data acquired through interviews and source-based literature, I classified the three universities in relation to the three pillars of sustainability, namely economic, social, and environmental. UAA was at an early stage of sustainability achievement while UBC was the most developed. In comparison, I evaluated Western Kentucky University (WKU) as situated between UAA and UCSB. Key steps to successful sustainability of food resources include creating local and regional food resources, engaging students, faculty and administrators, and developing an economically feasible institutional vision. Institutions of higher learning have a strong influence on their region and with forethought and planning, they can serve as drivers of sustainable food systems.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Alexander Olson


Food and Beverage Management | Higher Education Administration | Sustainability