Monique LeMieux, PhD

A classroom of students watching as South African students on the TV screen show them a traditional meal.
An Introductory Food and Culture class watches as a University of Venda professor holds up an example of a traditional South African dish.

You might have trouble finding caterpillars, termites and fermented milk on store shelves in Texas, but, as a Texas Woman’s University global perspectives class learned in the Spring 2018 semester, these are staples in South Africa.

Through a unique partnership, Nutrition and Food Sciences assistant professor Monique LeMieux, PhD, took an introductory Food and Culture class to the next level by co-teaching with a professor from the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in South Africa. The first half of the course’s curriculum covered cultures from each continent, leading up to video conferences with a Food Science and Technology class at UNIVEN.

smiling woman with brown hair

My goal is for TWU’s students to build skills and strategies necessary for interacting professionally with other cultures.

Monique LeMieux, Ph.D.

During a class session in March 2018, TWU students asked questions about South African culture and cuisine to UNIVEN students, who demonstrated the preparation of dishes popular in their country. Other class sessions included TWU students displaying and discussing food and culture of the United States, Texas and their own diverse backgrounds. 

“In putting together this unique course, my goal is for TWU’s students to build skills and strategies necessary for interacting professionally with other cultures,” LeMieux said. “Whether these students are involved in business or nutrition, they may one day have clients from around the globe."  

The idea hasn't stopped with South Africa, either. LeMieux has built partnerships with universities in Turkey and Sri Lanka, with plans for a network of culture-sharing classrooms on every continent. For future semesters, she sees an expansion of this face-to-face course that includes sharing the video conference recordings with online students.

LeMieux’s lifelong fascination with other cultures was fueled in graduate school where she learned with classmates from other countries. She hopes to inspire curiosity about the world in her students.

It's working. Before saying goodbye for the semester, TWU’s students had one last question for their new South African friends: “Can you show us the termites again?”

Page last updated 9:02 AM, September 14, 2018