Some people are changing their attitudes about the meat industry after taking the popular online course, “The Meat We Eat.”
The course, intended to give the consumer a more educated view of the meat industry, started up again April 20, and so far, about 5,000 people are registered. Chad Carr, a UF/IFAS animal sciences associate professor and meat Extension specialist, hopes that number rises above last year’s enrollment of 20,000 – students from around the world.
Of the students who took the course last summer, 490 completed an online survey before the course, and 226 did the same after the course. That survey showed improved attitudes about the meat industry.
Specifically, on a scale of 0 to 16, students went from an average score of 9.9 to an 11.4 in their attitude toward meat. On a scale of 0 to 20, their attitude toward slaughter went up from 11.4 to 14.2, and, on a scale of 6 to 24, their perception of the meat industry’s transparency went from 15.6 to 18.1.
Those are good numbers, both for enrollment and improved outlook on the meat industry, especially for a course that began last summer.
“In developed countries, the average consumer’s pretty far removed from their food supply,” Carr said. “I think those survey results help validate the efficacy of this kind of Extension program. The class is to generate a more educated consumer, and we talk about our industry.”
So, although “The Meat We Eat” sounds catchy, it’s not just a cute-sounding rhyme. The seven-week, non-credit course is raising its students’ awareness of animals and edible meat, Carr said.
And there are plenty of students.
You can continue to sign up for the course for 12 weeks, Carr said. Last summer, more than 20,000 from 169 countries took the class, he said.
Carr distinguishes this course in a few ways. He also teaches “The Meat We Eat” on the Gainesville campus, as a three-credit biology course each semester for UF undergraduates. However, Carr stresses he covers much of the same material. Those who take the online course do not get a grade.
This online course is taught through Coursera, a for-profit company that offers several online courses to students around the world.
To find out more about “The Meat We Eat,” log onto https://www.coursera.org/course/meatweeat.