INTERDISCIPLINARY TEACHING ON FOOD INDUSTRY: AN APPROACH TO INDUSTRY REALITY
Food industry is the industrial sector that most contributes to the economical internal product in Spain. Its competitiveness should be promoted with the next generations of professionals with the ability to innovate in processes and products. This is the general framework in which the University planned, in the coming years, to provide the necessary training to professionals in the field of Food Science and Technology. In order to design the new Degree in Food Science and Technology within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a deep reflection has been done about the skills that graduates should acquire and demonstrate, to become qualified professionals who provide society with safe, nutritious and high sensory quality food products, appropriate to the needs and consumption habits of different population groups, and according to current regulations. Graduates in Food Science and Technology (FST) are trained to develop their career in all areas related to food, including food industries, government institutions, public or private companies, as well as education.
Here we present an analysis of a teaching innovation project, with 25 students in their last year of FST, conducted during the academic period 2010-11. This activity included visits to several food and beverages industries located at different areas of Spain. University lecturers, students and professionals from different food industries have worked together to help our students to improve several competences and skills.
The aim of this experience was to develop general and specific student skills recognized as essential elements of the professional activity of graduates in FST. They include acknowledgement of ethical and legal responsibilities of their professional practice; the assessment of the importance of FST in the industrial, economic, environmental and social scenario, and relationship to other sciences; the autonomous and continuous knowledge updating about new products, advances, methodologies and techniques in FST; the use of quality scientific information; the development of a critical capacity to adapt to new situations and contexts, the creativity and ability to apply knowledge to solve problems in the food sector; the ability to work together and with professionals from other disciplines as well as to transmit information, ideas, problems and solutions. Moreover, this experience aimed to strengthen cooperation between lecturers from different areas of expertise (food engineering, food safety, food science, food technology and nutrition), identifying synergies and improving coordination between the different courses included in the FST degree.
The methodology used was different in each phase of the project, according to different modes of teaching and learning adapted to the EHEA. It is proposed a change in education system moving from the "team teaching" to "specific teaching” to meet specific needs, with the used of different tools, including personal and team search for information, interviews with industrial technical professionals, in-site observation of equipments and processes, oral presentations, and self-evaluation.
The results of this educational innovation experience, including the technical specifications and didactic panels (posters) about the industries visited, and the presentations of seminars by students, will be available to all FST students and lecturers on the project website.