It’s often said that the closest interaction many Americans have with other countries’ cultures is through food. That kind of culinary diplomacy is particularly common in Washington, D.C., where immigrants from all over the world have cooked up a diverse food scene.

Now one scholar-in-residence at American University is using the city’s food culture to teach her students about global affairs via a course on “gastrodiplomacy” — using food as a tool to foster cultural understanding among countries.

While the concept of gastrodiplomacy has been gaining traction among governments in recent years (former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched a “chef ambassador” corps a couple of years ago), the class is the first of its kind at a school of international relations, says Johanna Mendelson Forman, a policy expert on international conflict who teaches the new course.

Read the full NPR Blog post here.