Chocolate ingredients

Chocolate: The Unifying Element

Sustainability Program spearheads interdisciplinary exploration of chocolate through a Mars Corporation grant

Nicole Stanton ’22

The Chocolate Passport project addresses traditional, spiritual, and medicinal uses of Theobroma cacao, its agricultural production, the global market for chocolate, ethics and sustainability of this marker, culinary uses of chocolate, the chemistry of chocolate, and its role in art of all cultures. Funds support existing and new development of lessons, modules, hands-on labs, projects, guest lectures, community workshops, and independent student research. Sara Ashpole, faculty director of the Sustainability Program and lead for the Mars grant, hopes to use chocolate as a unifying element to bridge connectivity and inclusiveness among all students, faculty, and the community.

Faculty will investigate a variety of topics related to chocolate from learning about the connection of chocolate and human trafficking through history to the biology of artisanal chocolate farming, as well as the chemistry of making chocolate from cocoa beans and taking a closer look at the plant species through confocal imaging.

Campus collaborators are also developing chocolate seminars, film screenings, and culinary experiences coordinated through a partnership with Dining Services. The project will culminate in the fall 2022 semester with the Chocolate Passport Festival hosted by the Sustainability Program.