The program consists of 32 credits of course work (eight 4-unit classes) drawn from four core classes and four electives offered in rotation. The degree can be completed in four semesters with a two-course load each semester or may be completed over several years. Students and community members may take single courses without seeking the degree; non-degree seeking students must have an undergraduate degree and will pay the same tuition as matriculated students.
The program offers two ways to complete the Master of Arts degree:
Thesis (total 32 units)
All students must take Food 201: Introduction to Food Studies during their first year, Food 208: Research Methods in Food Studies in their second semester or as soon as possible, and Food 299: Thesis Project in their second year if full time or in the last or second-last semester if part time. In addition, students must complete two other core courses and three elective courses anytime during their degree course work. Each course is 4 units.
Non-Thesis (total 32 units)
All students must take Food 201: Introduction to Food Studies during their first year. In addition, students must complete three other core courses and four elective courses anytime during their degree course work. Non-thesis students are strongly encouraged to take Food 208: Research Methods, usually in their second semester, as one of their core courses. In advance of their final semester, students will meet with the program director to schedule and complete their MA comprehensive examination. Each course is 4 units.
Food 299: Thesis Project
Food 293 Special Topics: The Food Industry, from Enterprise to Entrepreneur
This class will provide a multisectoral overview of both prevailing and emerging structures and dynamics of the food industry. We will explore the food value chain from field to fork, employing the frameworks of strategic business analysis, market failure, and the influences of policy and the regulatory environment. Students will use these frameworks to evaluate and assess business models, products, and activities of established "Big Food" players and new market entrants. The class includes evaluation of current topics and non-market actors shaping the food industry to explore how cultural and social behaviors affect food consumption, as well as industry organization, the behavior and activities of industry participants. Also included will be a survey of basic concepts related to product development, pricing, and marketing.
Food 206: Sociology of Food
Food 208: Research Methods in Food Studies
Food 293 Special Topics "The Political Economy of Food: Systems, Movements, and Transformation"
How is it that more than one billion people go hungry in a world that produces 1½ times more than enough food to feed everyone? This course will explore the political economy of our food system to understand why hunger persists in a world of abundance. We will look at the construction of the global food regime and the rise of social movements for land, labor, equity, and agroecology. Global in scope, this course will highlight emblematic cases in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States.
Food 201 Introduction to Food Studies
Food 202 History of Food
Food 293B Special Topics: American Appetites
This course will examine the development of the American palate over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In addition to providing an historical overview of American foodways, this course will provide an in-depth analysis of key themes including culinary colonialism, waves of immigration and their influence on the national table, the industrialization of our food supply and the tides of backlash against it, the gendering of appetite, and disorderly eating.
Food 293A Special Topics: Food Law and Policy
Legal and political structures exert profound influence over foodways. In Food Law & Policy, we'll sketch out a roadmap of the international, federal, state, and local agencies that govern agriculture, manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and waste. We'll also look at the ways that political bodies, advocacy organizations, community groups, and individuals shape the food system through law and policy. Topics will examine soda taxes, GMO disclosure rules, the "Fight for Fifteen" wage campaign, fair trade cooperative structures, organic standards, buy-local initiatives, urban agriculture zoning rules, food policy councils, and animal welfare standards, among others. In addition to academic texts, we'll read policy reports, legal opinions, legislative minutes, feature stories, and opinion pieces. Our course will include field trips and guest lectures that enhance our understanding of the issues. The final course project will require an in-depth analysis and presentation of a specific law, policy, or change agent of your choosing.
Food 201: Introduction to Food Studies
This course explores the field of Food Studies from a multidisciplinary perspective. Drawing from classic and recent scholarship, this class will examine production, distribution, and consumption patterns in the United States and around the world, research methodologies, and practical applications of food studies in daily life and as a career.
Food 202: History of Food
This course is a detailed examination of the importance of food as a catalyst in history. We will focus on interpretation of primary documents and critical assessment of secondary literature. In the class we cover from human evolution and the Neolithic Revolution to the present through texts focusing on production, consumption, diet, religion, ethics, and culture. Specific units include Classical Greece and Rome, Bible and Early Christianity, Han Dynasty China, India, Abbasid Baghdad, Medieval Europe, Renaissance, Aztecs, Edo Japan, The Industrial Era, Colonization and Global Politics, 20th Century.
Food 203: Food Writing
This course will explore contemporary food writing and introduce a variety of popular and scholarly publications. We will speak with local authors about their own journey into food writing and about their particular specialization. Just a few of the genres we'll cover include culinary history, cookbooks, investigative journalism, food blogs, and scholarly essay. Over the course of the semester, we will also develop an online Food Studies publication to educate the public about our program and to showcase student writing.
Food 204: Anthropology of Food
This course examines the cultural importance of food from biocultural and cross-cultural perspectives. It offers an analysis of the ways that various cultures produce, prepare and consume food with an emphasis on its symbolic and ritual importance.
Food 205: Food and the Environment
Examines the ways that environmental issues affect the food system. Topics explored in this course will include climate change, population growth, access to water and the ecological effects of various pesticide and fertilizer regimes. The class applies insights from demography, anthropology, political ecology to propose alternative solutions that promote a balance between agriculture, food, population, and the environment.
Food 206: Sociology of Food
This course consists of a detailed exploration of the industrial food system. Presented mainly through the lens of political economy and ecology, topics will include labor, effects on urban and rural communities, the rise of industrial organic production, inequalities, culture and movements for food system reform. This course will include field trips and/or guest speakers from local food policy organizations.
Food 207: Food, Nutrition and Human Health
Analysis of how approaches to health and nutrition have shifted over time and across different cultures. We also explore the roles of food and nutrition science in shaping dietary trends and patterns.
Food 208: Research Methods in Food Studies
Covers basic techniques for collecting, interpreting and analyzing qualitative data in the field of food studies. The class examines the theoretical approaches to various types of qualitative research as well as the practical techniques of data collection, such as working with primary documents, identifying key informants, selecting respondents, collecting field notes, nalyzing data, writing and presenting findings to academic and non-academic audiences.
Food 299: Thesis Project
The thesis project should be a sustained semester long project researched and written under the direct supervision of a thesis advisor. The advisor and one outside reader appointed by the program director will evaluate the written thesis.
Food 231: Food and Literature
This course will provide an introduction to literary food studies and trace the development of key themes within food literature over the past two centuries, ranging from the role of meat in American society to the ways in which eating and cooking nourish the imagination. We'll begin by reading Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing before moving onto such literary classics as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's Physiology of Taste, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, M. F. K. Fisher's The Gastronomical Me, The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, and Ruth Ozeki's My Year of Meats. In addition, we'll explore the historical development of non-fiction food writing genres, including cookbooks, culinary memoir, and gastronomic essays. The course assignments will focus on improving writing skills, oral communication, and literary analyses.
Food 232: Local Food History: A Case Study of San Francisco
In this course we will cover the history of food in the San Francisco Bay Area, tracing how succeeding waves of immigrants adapted their cuisines to a rich new environment. From the Spanish mission period through Chez Panisse and the California Cuisine movement, we will examine changing foodways as well as the marketing of particular dishes and restaurants to locals and to visitors from around the world. Students will visit culinary sites important to the history of the city, such as the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown, the Cinderella Russian Bakery in the Inner Richmond, and the Anchor Brewery on Potrero Hill. Readings include Jennifer Lee's The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Matthew Booker's Down By The Bay: San Francisco's History Between the Tides, and Sally Fairfax's California Cuisine and Just Food. You will also get trained in oral history methods and in writing local food history. After reading Carol Kammen's On Doing Local History, weekly assignments will lead you, step by step, through the research and writing stages of a twelve-page research paper about a specific topic in San Francisco food history. Students will work with both primary and secondary materials relating to their topic, and are encouraged to incorporate oral history research where appropriate.
Food 233: Food Marketing
This course will explore the factors that influence the acquisition, consumption, and disposition of food-related products and services. The course will focus on the four Ps (product, price, place and promotions) as it relates to the food industry with the specific intention of looking at a diverse set of strategies and tactics utilized by the food marketplace in the sourcing, production, distribution and sale of food related products and services. Additionally, the course will examine the role of marketing in both initiating and facilitating movements such as slow food, fast food, farm to fork and sustainability initiatives in the food marketplace.
Food 234: Food Justice
Investigates the roles of intersecting hierarchies including race, class, gender, national status and sexuality in shaping the production, distribution and consumption of food . Examines community-based and policy responses to these inequalities. This course includes field trips and/or guest speakers to local food justice organizations.
Food 235: The Business of Food
This course overviews the contemporary food and beverage industry. An in-depth industry analysis provides the foundation for an exploration of significant challenges confronting firms operating in food and beverage manufacturing, service, and distribution. Included are topics such as supply chain evolution, the effects of government regulation, the economic impact of rising food costs, and the vast complexities of cultural, social and behavioral trends affecting food consumption. Emerging best business practices are also discussed.
Food 287: Internship (2-4 units)
An internship facilitates student experiential learning as they prepare themselves academically and practically for a different or new career. Students with legal authorization to work in the United States are not required to register for the Internship Course in order to intern, however, those students who wish to receive credit for their internship must register for the Internship Course. Internship placement is based on student initiative, goals, and background. Internship work and assessment details are formalized in a contract between the instructor and the student, both of which must be formally approved by the program director.
Food 291: Independent Study (1-4 units)
Food 293: Special Topics (2-4 units)