Award-winning filmmaker and two-time Pulitzer Center grantee Karim Chrobog visited three City Colleges of Chicago campuses on Tuesday, October 25, and Wednesday, October 27, 2016, helping to formally launch one of the newest Campus Consortium partnerships, initially made possible with the support of the University of Chicago.
Chrobog's visit came a year after an initial collaborative visit to City Colleges of Chicago campuses in fall 2015 with Pulitzer Center-supported journalists Emily Feldman and Alisa Roth focusing on refugee issues.
At the three campuses visited by Chrobog this time, students and faculty saw his two-part film covering the topic of food waste and the different ways food waste is handled in the U.S. versus in South Korea. The trip was full of discussions surrounding food regulation and approaches to food waste with culinary and microbiology students, among others.
At Kennedy-King College, Chrobog took post-screening questions from an audience of 160 Washburne Culinary Institute students, media students and faculty. Addressing questions regarding the difference between the U.S. and South Korea's response to the issue of food waste, Chrobog noted that due to South Korea's dire environmental and health impacts of excess waste, the desperate need to address the problem motivated people to use high tech innovation paired with adjusting their mindset around waste as a potential profit as opposed to something to ignore.
Media students recorded the presentations as well as Chrobog's on-site radio interview by WKKC Radio Broadcast Instructor Harold Lee Rush who has been a celebrated Chicago radio host and producer for 50 years.
View highlights of Chrobog's visit to Kennedy-King college in this video produced by Kennedy-King media students:
At Harry S. Truman College, Chrobog screened his film in two parts for an audience of 35 students from advanced writing courses whose keynote research papers are on food insecurity and food waste. Students found Chrobog's presentation a helpful step in gathering some of their sources. They will also be using the Lesson Builder tool to support their search for several primary and secondary resources for their projects, surrounding food waste, food insecurity, land rights and more.
Also addressed were comparisons about regulation in South Korea to U.S. standards. "It's very complicated. I'm the first to admit it, but we need to do something about it. The simple act of throwing something away—if we change that at the individual level, then the commercial and governmental levels are more likely to follow," Chrobog said.
At Harold Washington College, Chrobog spoke to a microbiology class that has been learning industrial and environmental microbiology among other topics in immunology. Professor Bara Sarraj attended the 2016 University of Chicago-Pulitzer Center Summer Teacher Institute with six Pulitzer Center grantee presentations and knew immediately after seeing Chrobog's film during the workshops that his reporting would be a creative way to engage his students in the real world application of microbiology and global awareness. The conversation was unique among others as students who understood the bacterial factors associated with food waste and using waste as fuel were asking Chrobog questions that led the discussion to debate and cause for action for thinking outside the box to decrease food waste in the U.S.
"Really everybody can do something. It's a change of behavior; buy what you need, think about the morals and ethics, or the monetary savings of $2,500 per year being better food buyers, or the environmental impact of depleted and polluted fisheries," Chrobog told students. The lesson that resonated is that there are several reasons to reduce food waste that speaks to each person's motivations, whether it is moral, economic, environmental or seeking innovation.
"The story he shared was a powerful one for all of us and generations that follow," Dr. Jacqueline Callery, Senior Director of Faculty Development for City Colleges of Chicago, told the Pulitzer Center after attending the presentation at Truman College.
A big thank you to all of the faculty and administration at Kennedy-King, Truman, and Harold Washington for working on bringing this journalist visit to enthusiastic students. We extend that gratitude to the University of Chicago on behalf of these colleges for helping provide the opportunity.