Bringing Food Design Thinking at UDEM as a Global Community Professor
Updated: Feb 21
UDEM Universidad de Monterrey has recently started a new program to facilitate the exchange of knowledge with professionals and academics from around the world. Between September and December 2023 I was one of the selected Global Community Professors. I have taught a Food Design class along with Leslie Lizeth Olán, teaching for one month in presence and one month remotely. It has been one of the most fulfilling, insightful, and memorable work experiences I've ever had, and here's why.
On September 26 I gave a talk at the annual UDEM conference called UDesign IMPACTO. The event was just brilliant! Speakers included brilliant names like Carles López, Roberto Puig, Stephanie Dishno, Alberto Serrano, Alexandre Lenoir, and Karim Rashid! Their words were inspiring and the content they shared was refreshing.
My talk was titled "Conversations with a banana on systems and sustain-ability". I had fun playing with a talking banana and discussing 5 paths for sustainability, intended as the "ability to sustain". You can watch the full talk here.
And how do you know that your talk was worth it? That is was heard and appreciated? When a few days after you're sent this (image below) by one of the teachers! Look at it! I've never had one of my talks summarised visually like this... and I LOVE IT! Many thanks to Claudia Sofía Aguirre Gómez for creating this beautiful visual summary (find Claudia on IG @sofy.aguirree) and to Fernanda Márquez Culebra for teaching her students to explore visual reflections. Wonderful!
During my stay at UDEM I also gave a talk titled "The Creative Act of Meaningful Design-ing" at Inauguración de Exhibición Proyectos Destacados, Escuela de Arquitectura y Ciencias del Hábitat 2023, on October 20, 2023. Needless to say, this is one of my favorite topics. I love exploring the why and because of Design theory.
As a Global Community Professor, I was involved in several teaching activities. The primary class for me was the Food Design class taught by Leslie Olan, in which I was invited to participate and share the content of the curriculum. While Leslie, thanks to her background in the discipline, taught the first of the three portions of the course which introduced the students to the discipline, I curated and taught (with Leslie's collaboration) the second and third portions where students conducted their design project using the Food Design Thinking process.
The students worked on developing propositions for local companies that already showed an evident interest in social and/or environmental sustainability: Urban Farm, Tia Ofilia, Organicos Monterrey, and Villa de Patos. The students were brilliant: engaged, interested, and capable. And their projects have been for me interesting and inspiring. It has been a true pleasure teaching this class.
Students Names: José Ramón Ballina Rodríguez, Rodrigo Bolívar Hidalgo, Paola Buitrón Quiroz, Carolina Carolina, Lorena Montserrat Chávez Tijerina, Melissa Lorena Elizondo Garza, Erick Escamilla Flores, Francisco Alejandro Flores García, Emir Hared Flores Ramirez, Mariana Fraga Alatorre, Ana Catalina Garza Lozano, Sofía Madahuar Farías, Carolina Malagamba Montejo, Ana Paola Mejía Padilla, Ana Paula Pérez Chaidez, Dalia Sofía Valdez Martínez, Ana Paula Aldana Mendez.
I also had the pleasure of having some feedback sessions with four thesis students led by Dr. Cristina Guzman. The students (Cristina Angulo, Ana Cecilia Cervantes, Michelle Adjani Leal Adame, and Valeria Zambrano) worked on making food packaging for delivery more meaningful and sustainable. I have rarely seen someone work with the level of dedication and acuteness that these students demonstrated. Great things lay ahead for them, I'm sure. And it was a pleasure for me to be part of a small portion of their journey.
Finally, I also had the pleasure of sharing feedback with four more groups of students led by their four teachers: Juan Ignacio Piedras, Melissa de la Luz Díaz Quiroz, Eugenio Juan De la Garza Vela, Agustín Plancarte Fexas. These groups were working on designing propositions for food services in Monterrey. What a pleasure it has been to see these young minds at work, reading about their ambitions between the lines of their projects, and feeling how they wish to change the world.
For a whole month, I had the pleasure of working in, walking through, gazing at, and wondering within one of the most spectacular buildings I had ever had the opportunity to live. The life of the faculties of Art, Architecture, and Design have in fact the unique opportunity of unfolding within the walls of the Centro Roberto Garza Sada designed by architect Tadao Ando.
Many of us have the opportunity to visit a great building... one of those building designed with the pure intention of creating beauty. But most of us can only visit such buildings. I had never had the opportunity to work in and... in a sense live a building so intentionally designed to make people feel... light and space, emptiness and fullness, lights and shadows... and breeze all day. I have loved every second and I am grateful for this experience.
I am profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity of bringing Food Design Thinking at UDEM as a Global Community Professor and to have spent one month teaching in person and meeting and collaborating with some of the professors.
Students have welcomed my presence, teachings, and feedback with open arms. This showed how these students are used to being stimulated by international and foreign perspectives. And professors have made space in their teaching schedule and opened their classrooms to me with trust and respect for my feedback, my knowledge, and my teaching style. I have noticed this, I do not take this for granted, and I am deeply grateful.
The people, the environment, the events I have attended, and indeed the building itself, have been inspiring, gratifying, and memorable. I have left with many ideas and a renewed sense of excitement for the field of Design Education.
Thank you Daniela Frogheri for your openness, your kindness, and your trust. Thank you to every professor I have met, shaken hands with, and exchanged insights with, like Mafe, Carlos, and Andre, amongst others. And my special thanks to the friends who have made my stay especially memorable constellating my weeks with unexpected cups of tea, wonderful food, walks and visits to beautiful places, and pizzas (some of which even homemade!): Leslie, Agustin, Ignacio, Cristina, and Josue. I am humbled by your kindness and beauty.
I hope to meet you all again soon