Technology in Teaching Showcase

Collaborative Technology-Based Projects at Hamilton College

Mapping the Migration of Dumplings Project Overview

Description and Resources


Course Name:
Food for Thought

Course Description:

An interdisciplinary exploration of food. Topics include: why we eat what we eat; where our dinner comes from; the politics of food; the cultural history of foodways; early 19th-century New York State agriculture; diet fads; food and disease; the locavore and Slow Food movements. One weekly session is dedicated to The 1812 Garden, food workshops and films.

Project Description:

This mapping project offers the possibility to begin to unwrap that complex history by attempting to trace the transmission of a particular use of pasta—in the form of wrapped and stuffed dumplings. The routes of transmission were undoubtedly various, but we hypothesize that the Silk Road and subsidiary trade routes were the primary nexus of cultural exchange.

» Professor Franklin Sciacca

Completed Student Projects

Mapping the Migration of Dumplings Websites - Created Fall, 2012

Goals, Process and Outcomes

Project Goals:

Historians usually restrict their study of the Silk Road to examination of exchange in goods and ideas—silk, spices, porcelain, raw materials, languages, religions, artistic styles.  With this project we seek to trace the transmission of culinary technique and foodways as well. The underlying goal is to demonstrate that culinary techniques were a significant component in the great exchange of ideas between East and West. More specifically, we hope to hypothesize and eventually prove the routes by which this culinary innovation migrated, as well as a chronology for this transference.

Learning Objectives:

The learning objectives for this project include offering the opportunity to students to engage in narrow research and to have the experience of using and displaying their findings in the creation of websites using SiteManager and Omeka. Students were also afforded the opportunity to collaborate in the global mapping of their dumplings and thud develop a working hypothesis about the roots of transmission.

Project Process:

The process began with a Hillgroup meeting to discusss research strategies and appropriate technologies. Had discussion of possible means of metadata in Excel format. Hosted several workshops to demonstrate to students how to use SiteManager (Carl Rosenfield) and Omeka (Mary Lehner). Students have submitted their websites for collection in a Dumpling Project website.

Learning Outcomes:

The outcome of this project is the Dumpling Project website with universal map indicating transmission roots.

Project Feedback:

Students appreciated learning the skills necessary to create a website and commented on the importance of linking information back to the original source in a consistent and thorough way. Some student commented that building the site was more difficult than they thought it would be. About half of the students agreed that the project contributed to their learning process in the course (the other half weren’t sure). About half of the students commented that this project had real world relevance (the other half wasn’t sure). Nearly all students commented that this project allowed the exploration of multiple possible interpretations of how to meet the project goal and that this project fostered reflection on the topic and/or what was being learned in class. Most students wrote that this project allowed students to have diverse interpretations of how to approach the assignment.