Food Studies has been emerging since the 1990s as one of the fastest-growing fields of study in North America. The discipline exists at the nexus of multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral inquiry addressing the linkages between food systems, social stability, human and landscape sustainability, public health, and urban and regional design and planning. The Food Studies program offers a bachelor of science (B.S.), a minor in Food Studies, a master of science (M.S.) and a Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.). Students learn about the Food System in areas including food justice, urban food systems, international trade, labor in the food systems, human rights, science and technology and culinary expertise.

Bachelor of Science in Food Studies

The Bachelor of Science in Food Studies takes a multilevel, holistic approach to food-from production through consumption. The 120-credit major includes four areas of study: Falk College requirements, a liberal arts core, a food studies core and food electives. The liberal arts core is left open purposefully to allow students to sample broadly from the Arts & Science offerings. Such a liberal approach is appropriate for students majoring in food studies since it has emerged as a multidisciplinary field. The major concludes with a senior level experience requirement where students choose to complete a research project or a practicum.

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Master of Science in Food Studies

The Master of Science in Food Studies is a 36-credit hour graduate program providing students with a foundation in the political economy of food systems, including food policy, human rights, food governance, and food justice. Students gain a deep understanding of multi-scale, global-local constructions of food governance and civil society claims, trade and food aid, and related public policy as they together influence human health and nutrition, economic development, and the environment. The program purposefully introduces students to Food Studies-oriented research methods and program evaluation, and emphasizes analyses that consider social justice, race, ethnicity, and gender and sexuality.

Courses explore Food Studies and food systems, including: introductory graduate seminar; food and public policy; human right to adequate food and nutrition; political economy of food; transnational food and trade; food labors and decent work; the politics of race, immigration, income, age, and dis/abilities and its impact on food systems; urban agriculture; health and food environments; community geography; food and nutrition security including emergency feeding systems; public health nutrition; food and dis/abilities; and applied epidemiology in the global community, among other topics. Teaching and student research is enhanced by active faculty engagements in these fields.

Syracuse University’s graduate Food Studies program uniquely introduces a political economy and human rights-based approach to food systems in addition to food security, trade, food sovereignty, ethics, and agro-ecology. We differ from other Food Studies graduate programs that place greater emphasis on the cultural history of food and gastronomy, although we explore those topics and boast a full teaching kitchen in our program.

Our departmental intersection of Food Studies with long-standing professional programs in public health and nutrition offers students critical capacity to engage in food systems research; we help to explain and address inequalities in health and nutrition outcomes in terms of inadequacies and inconsistencies in existing social conditions instead of emphasizing the fault of individual behavior. Through a food sovereignty and an integrated economic, political and civil rights based analysis, we link our critique of food systems to international NGOs and social movements. From understanding the urban design construction and the rural isolation of food deserts to the intractability of domestic and foreign food aid that co-exists with farm surplus and food exports, food systems research leverages single-discipline contributions to create complex analyses of hunger, malnutrition and the reproduction of poverty.

Collaborative and complementary Food Studies program support additionally comes from individual faculty members located among all academic Colleges at Syracuse University. The graduate Food Studies program embraces these transdisciplinary associations in African American studies, geography, sociology, history, public affairs, international studies, gastronomy, agronomy, environmental studies, women and gender studies, law, planning and architecture, as well as with public health and nutrition.

Under the guidance of a faculty adviser, M.S. graduate students may elect to write a thesis on an original topic that has a substantial research component and that can contribute new knowledge to the field of Food Studies. This document is submitted in support of a student’s candidature for the M.S. degree and is subject to committee review, evaluation, and acceptance. Alternately, students may select the practicum, or experiential learning option to complete the final project requirements. The goal of the graduate practicum is to provide students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the M.S. in Food Studies program in the context of a multiple month placement in a public, private, or private-nonprofit organization. Practicum assignments engage students in work that contributes to a critical assessment of the food system at local, regional, national, or international scales under the direction of a site preceptor; they afford students direct field experience wherein they develop and apply a range of competencies such as leadership and group process capacities, political awareness and communication skills, cross-cultural experience, and a better understanding of the conditions of developing and well-functioning food systems.

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Food Studies, CAS

The academic field of Food Studies trains students in the fast-changing landscape of international food policy as well as local food governance systems. The program at Syracuse University is characterized by the study of structural conditions of inequalities, injustice and imbalances in the food system, combined with learning the levers of social change, including social movements, public policy, and equitably organized food and nutrition economies. Students learn how the local and global articulate with each other under diverse circumstances like climate change, trade rules, or nutrition policy and humanitarian/charity assistance.

The graduate level C.A.S. in Food Studies enhances students’ employment profile in food-related fields, opening employment opportunities in: local and national government work associated with food regulation and industry relations; NGO engagement in advocacy and policy associated with the human right to adequate food, food sovereignty, food and nutrition security, and trade and food-oriented labor; economic and social development work at the community, national, and international scales; food production and distribution companies, services, and vendors in established or start-up modes.

Food Studies is an interdisciplinary field that has great relevance across traditional academic departments. Students with a C.A.S. in Food Studies will also be well prepared for advanced graduate work that focuses on food studies and systems related questions that are being asked throughout the academy.

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Food Studies Minor

The Food Studies minor is an interdisciplinary approach to examine the U.S. and global food systems from production through consumption using a multi-level and holistic approach. Students take courses covering production, consumption and policy aspects of food as well as food security. The Food Studies minor is a valuable complement to a variety of majors because of the growing interest in food systems in both public and private sectors. Issues around organic production, the local food movement, genetic modification of food and nanotechnology, and food access in the U.S. and elsewhere are all covered in the minor and have potential applications in the natural sciences, business, public policy, communications and media, and the social sciences.

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