Thesis Project Proposal

This semester I have made a large leap in narrowing my thesis topic down to a specific scope that I will be able to explore with depth and rigor. I have developed a set of questions that will guide my study.

Primary Question:

How can design enable cross-generational learning around food as a catalyst for personal and ecological well-being?

Sub Questions:

Can pre-teen (6-10 year old) co-creators help to establish the right conditions for this learning to take place?

What are the barriers or hurdles for parents to engage in cooking activities with their children?

Click on cover image to view entire proposal book

As I move through the masters program, I am developing a visual method for writing copy. Previously, in my career, I have worked with copy writers and have had mostly big picture or tiny typo influence on content. Learning this new skill set has been a worthwhile challenge.

I have found that visually laying out my ideas helps me to connect themes and clarify what I am writing. As a masters student, I have been constantly reading, gathering resources and learning new methods and theories. The challenge of prioritizing and paring everything down to a 2,500 word proposal was daunting until I moved everything up onto the wall. This allowed me to pair down, move things around and see at a glanceĀ  what story I am telling through this proposal.



To synthesize the history of the problem, I plotted events in history divided into three key categories. I looked at events in the history of speed cooking & family lifestyle, agriculture and dining & food media. Through this exercise I was able to identify a cultural shift over the past 50 years in both the North Americans lifestyle and how it relates to food.


I am defining my research into specific stages that include data analysis. I will use user research methods of narrative interviews and a survey to get a better understanding of the barriers that parents face. These phases will investigate the family schedule, learn from successes and struggles as well as seek opportunities to productively involve children in cooking on weeknights.

One helpful processĀ  I went through was to categorize the types of topics I am exploring. I then identified my area of focus from other knowledge or ways my thesis findings could be used. This helped me define a scope that was narrow enough for a deep investigation.

I want to thank the talented Elissa Watts for her tremendous assistance copy editing and for being there to bounce ideas and help me clarify my vision in written form.

JournalKaren Whistler