The Food Studies program positions food at the center of academic inquiry, calling attention to the multifaceted ways food, and discourses surrounding it, influence us as not only as biological beings, but social and cultural actors as well.
The program requires students to engage multiple theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, transcending individual disciplinary constraints in order to explore food in innovative ways. Food as the object of scholarly attention is not new. Many features of food are commonly explored across academic disciplines, from chemistry, biology and environmental sciences to economics, history, humanities and the social sciences. Additionally, the program seeks to guide students in questioning the very foundations of what we consider “food” to be, challenging them to consider how food - its naming, production, distribution, and consumption - is historically contingent and, as critical food studies researchers note, is simultaneously a site of pleasure and power dynamics.
An agricultural class of Spelman women working in the Victory Garden in the early part of the 20th century (circa 1904-1920). Courtesy of the Spelman College Archives.
The goals of the Food Studies program are to:
Develop a global and comparative perspective about food’s cultural, social, and biological significance,
Develop an intersectional framework from which to understand gendered experiences of food production, distribution, and consumption
Understand that food lies at the nexus of multiple dimensions—environmental, political, biological, cultural, etc. — and approaches to addressing food-related problems must be multifaceted;
Apply theoretical approaches to studying food to real world problems
Examine the ways food is centered in political discourses in both domestic and global spheres (e.g., social welfare policies, conglomeration of food corporation, food system, globalization, constructions of world hunger)