Psychology students in the Living Lab

Psychology lecturer Maria Fernandes-Jesus gives an insight into how her second year ‘Qualitative Research Methods’ students are getting involved in Living Lab: Feeding the Campus.

The entire group of 105 students on this module are working on research projects related to the Living Lab challenge of investigating the campus food system. They have formed 22 small groups and have designed research enquiries under six main topics:  Food poverty; Identities and food culture; Sustainable food-related lifestyles; Community gardens; Food activism and Food waste. They will investigate these by conducting interviews with students and staff, whom they are recruiting through the Living Lab’s interdisciplinary events and online ‘Moodle’ platform.

A glance over the groups’ chosen research questions reveals the range of concerns of Psychology students regarding the food system:

  • How are YSJ students’ food cultures represented on campus?
  • How has culture been expressed through food on campus?
  • How aware are university students of the different ways to correctly dispose of food waste?
  • How can universities help reduce unnecessary food waste?
  • How do university students construct their identity in relation to food waste?
  • What do students at YSJ think the main causes of food waste in York?
  • How do undergraduate students at York St. John experience food waste during the cost-of-living crisis?
  • How does cultural prejudice influence specific food preferences?
  • How do students’ experiences of food-related sustainable lifestyles differ?
  • How widely available are alternative foods, and are there any limitations of following an alternative diet?
  • Is York St John a facilitating environment for sustaining a plant-based/meat-free lifestyle?
  • How can food banks help to decrease the stress and stigma felt by university students who are experiencing food poverty?
  • How do you cope with psychological distress of food poverty?
  • How are parents who attend full-time study at YSJ University throughout the 2022 Cost of Living Crisis experiencing food poverty?
  • What are York St. John students’ understandings on the impacts of food poverty in the UK?
  • How do University students feel food poverty effects them?
  • What do students think is the most effective way to manage food poverty?
  • How do capitalist practices enable food poverty?
  • How are students who receive a government maintenance loan experiencing food poverty during the cost-of-living crisis?  
  • How can community garden initiatives aid in improving student mental health and wellbeing?
  • (…)

The Living Lab has brought an impetus and liveness to for the module and the students’ enthusiasm for it has grown accordingly!

Later in the semester the students will be inviting fellow Living Lab students to a research event of their own, ‘Food For Thought’. Some will also share their work at this semester’s culminating Living Lab event, the Midwinter Potluck. There will also be some exchange with the module ‘Society and Space’, led by Jude Parks from the geography department.