Jonathan Safran Foer, best known for his novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, hosted a series of virtual video conferences last week to discuss problems associated with factory farming with thousands of high school and college students around the world. On Wednesday, Foer appeared, via video, at Framingham State University.
“Jonathan Safran Foer virtually visited my class in Argumentation and Advocacy, in which we are using the topic of animal rights for case studies,” said Framingham State University Associate Professor Audrey Kali.
“I try to teach my students that creating a compelling argument is more than just pulling together a mosaic of facts that support your position. Also important are personal stories, emotional underpinnings, and unexamined clinging to traditions. Eating Animals has gripped readers and has created a new platform for dialogue for just these reasons," Kali added.
“More people than ever are concerned with where their food comes from,” said Foer, “and with billions of animals being put through our factory farming systems each year, that concern is becoming a major driver in improving agriculture.”
The virtual classroom visits are part of a new education initiative led by Farm Forward, a nonprofit organization working to improve animal agriculture.
To date, Farm Forward has provided more than 200 copies of Eating Animals free of charge to teachers in public schools.
Each 35-minute session consisted of a 15-minute presentation from Foer on issues related to industrial agriculture and his book Eating Animals, which is now being adapted into a major documentary film, produced by Academy Award-winning actress and animal welfare activist Natalie Portman with the support of Farm Forward. The presentations were followed by a 20-minute discussion with students.
“Eating Animals should be required reading in all schools,” explains Farm Forward’s Executive Director, Ben Goldsmith. “By giving students this opportunity to learn the facts about the welfare of farmed animals, and the impact that factory farming has on our health and the environment, Farm Forward hopes to create a new generation of leaders who will make the future of farming more humane and sustainable.”