Tomorrow’s educated food consumers may already be getting their start today as college undergraduates. Food-themed programs, such as the one at Ohio University, position food as being central to academic study.
The food curricular theme at Ohio University includes undergraduate Social Sciences courses such as the three-credit-hour introductory class “Food Matters: Explorations of Food in the Liberal Arts,” as well as a freshman composition course, “Writing and Rhetoric I: Food Studies.” More food-themed courses are offered in Applied Sciences, Natural Sciences, Humanities, Literature and other disciplines.
Theresa Moran, OU’s food studies faculty leader, says she organized knowledge requirements “around the production, consumption and meaning of food.” She developed the idea in response to an invitation from the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to propose new academic themes.
There’s also a newly formed group at the university, Food Matters at OU, a club dedicated to creating an interdisciplinary community based around food-related topics. The group, affiliated with the food studies curricular theme, offers students a chance to integrate their general requirements with their interest in food and food systems.
The liberal arts Food Theme is not to be confused with food science programs at OU. Course topics range beyond food on the plate. “We’re talking about geography, history, humanities and the sciences—using food to get into academic disciplines,” Moran explains. Course approaches range from an analysis of the meaning of food to how it is investigated through the arts.
“In the academic world, food studies are really starting to explode as a discipline,” Moran says of undergraduate liberal arts programs. “The impact is deepening and widening.”