Chicken soup for the soul: promoting well-being and belonging through food and cultural competence skills.




This conference paper asked a question - What does well-being and belonging in Teaching and Learning Development look like in practice? The paper presentation focused on two Kingston University initiatives to develop and enhance students’ sense of well-being and belonging: Cultural Food Stories and Cultural Competence skills workshops were explored in the session to create a conversation about how Learning Developers could move into the extra-curricular space to create a sense of belonging through communal dining. Food is universal and has cultural and social meanings (Dunbar, 2017). During the physical separation experienced throughout the pandemic, the Cultural Food Stories initiative explored whether recipe and story sharing could enhance staff and student belonging, while simultaneously honouring cultural diversity. Given the importance of belonging in enhancing student learning, engagement and retention (Tinto, 2017), this is highly pertinent. To enhance student success, it is also essential to equip students with the skills they need to appreciate how cultural differences and similarities help to enhance personal and professional interactions rather than to stereotype or marginalise. The Cultural Competence skills initiative creates tailored workshops to support students’ ability to understand and respect their own and others’ cultural background and values. These strategies help to equip our students with the resilience and skills needed to thrive and be successful professionals in their future careers. In our paper, we argue that wellbeing and belonging are key tools for developing students learning and can be easily incorporated into educational practice. By inviting diverse students to participate within each of these initiatives, their cultural heritage is not only welcomed but also acknowledged explicitly. Attendees will leave with a practical toolkit to embed our Cultural Food Stories and Cultural Competence skills initiatives as part of their teaching and learning practice and devise associated activities that enhance professional development skills and better support all our students, regardless of background.

Author Biographies

Karen Lipsedge, Kingston University London

Karen Lipsedge is an Associate Professor in English Literature at Kingston University, and is part of the Directorate for Access, Participation and Inclusion, where she works as a Senior Adviser for Teaching and Learning, focusing on enhancing students’ ability to have courageous conversations about identity, racial inequality, and belonging.

Hilda Mulrooney, Kingston University London

Hilda Mulrooney is an Associate Professor in Nutrition at Kingston University. Her pedagogic research interests include belonging at university and perceptions of quality of higher education. She also carries out subject-specific research and is active in professional practice within the field of dietetics.


Dunbar, R. I. M. (2017) ‘Breaking bread: the functions of social eating’, Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 3, pp.198-211.

Syska, A. (2021) ‘Section Editorial: Prioritising wellbeing through community and connection’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Special Issue 22, October, pp.1-2.

Tinto, V. (2017) ‘Through the eyes of students’, Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 19(3), pp.254-269.




How to Cite

Lipsedge, K. and Mulrooney, H. (2022) “Chicken soup for the soul: promoting well-being and belonging through food and cultural competence skills”., Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi25.992.