Culinary students are leaving their comfort zones and routines to experience other learning environments in a new partnership between The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and other prestigious colleges in their respective fields: The United States Military Academy (USMA) and Pratt Institute.
Through this partnership, West Point cadets and Pratt design students came to the CIA's Hyde Park campus on separate visits this fall. Students from those two colleges teamed with CIA students in kitchen classrooms to design, cook, and plate their menu ideas. Ten CIA seniors also visited West Point, sitting in on their classes and participating in training exercises. Another group of CIA students will soon be visiting Pratt's campus in Brooklyn, New York.
"My eyes were opened to a whole new world that I have desperately wanted to know more about," says CIA senior Leah Pfeiffer after a day of immersion into the campus culture at West Point. "As the granddaughter of an Army soldier, I didn't realize how hungry I was for insight into his life."
"While the subjects of study in military, design, or culinary education are all different, the process and structure of learning at all three institutions share numerous parallels," says Dr. Michael Sperling, CIA vice president of academic degree programs. "The visits to each other's campuses allow students to get out of their normal comfort zone and take on the creative challenge of mastering new skills and approaches. In this process, they all reflected on the incredible learning that took place in completely different settings than they are accustomed to."
Dr. Sperling notes that experiential learning is a growing trend in higher education, and many other colleges are trying to catch up to the CIA in that area. The majority of the CIA's curriculum has always integrated kitchen, lab, and industry learning with concepts and theory.