In fall 2013, a group of students formed to explore the establishment of a student-run café on campus that is structured on a cooperative model of governance and which serves exclusively local, organic, ethical and sustainable food. During the spring semester, the students enrolled in an independent study course focused on this co-op café through the Department of Geography and Urban Studies. While the independent study was based in the College of Liberal Arts, the registered students had a broad range of majors, including students from the School of Media and Communication, Engineering and Fox Business School. During the independent study, students created a mission statement, by laws, and a business plan. They also held fundraisers and community outreach events.
Rad Dish provides the Temple community with a unique learning tool. While the initial courses will be tied to independent study and internship courses in the Fox School of Business and Geography and Urban Studies, the co-op is a resource that can be utilized by a number of academic departments, including:
- Entrepreneurship – Students will be able to learn first hand how to start, operate and sustain a small business.
- Accounting – Faculty can utilize the business transactions of the co-op as a real life example of bookkeeping;
- Graphic Design/Advertising and Marketing – Faculty can use the co-op as an in-house client for students’ project based learning lessons, including the development of marketing materials, advertising, outreach plans and social media engagement;
- Public Health – Faculty will have opportunities to discuss issues, such as food systems, urban hunger and nutrition;
- Environmental Studies/GUS – Students will learn about food systems, the cooperative governance model, social responsibility and community engagement;
- Corporate Social Responsibility/Supply Chain Management – Faculty can work with Rad Dish to evaluate their supply chain and the sustainability of their purchasing choices; and,
- Tourism and Hospitality Management – Students would have an opportunity to manage and run a real food business.
In advance of the opening, the students and the Office of Sustainability have reached out to faculty to gauge interest in using the food co-op café as a learning tool on campus for both curriculum and co-curricular activities. The Fox School of Business has developed an independent study course run by Lynne Andersson. The Geography and Urban Studies department has worked with Rad Dish to create an internship program for credit at the co-op. Both schools expressed interest in developing an interdepartmental, co-taught course that weaves food systems, cooperative theory and entrepreneurship into a class. In addition to academics, the co-op may provide opportunities for research through either the school of public health, tourism and hospitality management, business or environmental studies.