What is on your plate?  Food science, sustainability and social responsibility

Food connects all aspects of the human experience.  Food is essential for health, but equally important in the realms of politics, culture, identity and economics. The health of our environment, earth, and climate also converge in the human requirement to be nourished. The study of food crosses borders by traversing local, national, and global contexts, and it troubles boundaries between the private and the public, the domestic and the political. 

The Food Bands Program, certificate and courses in development emerged from the Integrated Bands Program initiated by CASL Dean Marty Hershock as a mechanism to demonstrate how the extensive and diverse talents of the faculty can cooperatively address complex problems.  Recognizing that simple solutions and noncollaborative efforts will not solve pressing human issues, a core faculty team was charged with creating a pilot program - a program that engages students and the campus community to learn and explore how to cross real and virtual borders and to probe and unravel knotty global problems.  

Food Studies Certificate

A certificate in Food Studies, specifically “Crossing borders: disciplines, identities and complexities in food studies” emerged as a response to student interests. to explore these connections further and in a more conceptually concrete and guided fashion. Our students displayed a passion for the intersections of food, health, and society, and many of them are pursuing careers where this certificate will be advantageous. This certificate gives students a place to engage more substantially with inter- and multi-disciplinary perspectives on food, its role in our culture, politics and society. Importantly, students will have the ability to connect theory to practice through an applied experience.

Benefits of the Certificate

The certificate allows students to engage with multiple disciplines to begin the process of uncovering these connections. UM-Dearborn is particularly well poised to contribute here because many of our students and their communities struggle with food security and health problems that are in some way directly related to the foods they consume. This nation has a profound problem with obesity and its related diseases, which have reached epidemic levels. Our students would benefit greatly from a deeper understanding of how these problems arise, and what might be done to improve the lives of local communities, and those across the country. We see this certificate as particularly beneficial for students who plan on entering graduate work or careers that will tackle the environmental, political or health related problems of food production and consumption directly. The courses that we outline below touch on a range of subjects in order to suit student interest in a particular path. Many of these courses address inequality as a central theme, as well as racial, gender and economic injustice.

Who will benefit from this Certificate

We expect that many students will benefit from this certificate. We anticipate that students interested in the following areas will apply and participate in this program:

  • Non-profit work in food-related areas (such as urban farming, sustainability issues, food/nutrition education, to highlight just a few examples)
  • Food production or service work
  • Local, state or national government policy work
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Nutritionist programs and related fields
  • Medical school applicants (where emphasis on nutrition and health is woefully lacking)
  • Preparation for graduate research on food issues in social sciences, natural sciences and humanities Ph.D. programs
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