Food Studies minor added to fall 2021 curriculum

Food+Studies+class+on+a+field+trip+to+Mount+Hope+Community+Garden+in+Southeast+San+Diego.+

Dr. Pascale Joassart-Marcelli

Food Studies class on a field trip to Mount Hope Community Garden in Southeast San Diego.

by Eugènie Budnik, Contributor

When students hear that San Diego State has a food studies minor, they may think “What does one even study there…how to bake a soufflé?”

However, this newly added course of study is much more complex and dimensional than one might guess. The food studies minor allows students of all majors to study the interconnectedness of social justice, politics, culture and environment that plays into the foods we eat and how we eat them. 

Dr. Pascale Joassart-Marcelli,the food studies program director and a geography professor at SDSU. Joassart-Marcelli has written several books about food and its relationship with culture and social justice.

“Our goal is to create a program that complements majors,” Joassart-Marcelli said. “There has been a lot of interest in food in recent years for a variety of reasons. But, most of it is people being concerned with the effects of our food system on individual health and wellbeing, the environment, animal welfare, food insecurity, and labor issues. There are just so many concerns and anxieties within our food system and students want to learn more about what is causing these problems and how we can change our relationships to food to make them more sustainable and equitable.”

The minor requires that students take a variety of courses across many disciplines, making this minor a cross-department effort. 

“For example, a student majoring in economics who is interested in economic development and food security, could take food related classes in geography, anthropology, environmental science, philosophy, or other disciplines in order to get a broader understanding of food in its broad social, political, cultural, and economical context of society,” Joassart-Marcelli said.

One of the minor’s core classes is Food Justice, which is cross-listed as both a geography and political science class. This course takes a look at food justice from the perspectives of theory, institutions, markets, law, ethics, social mobilization, politics and ecology. Another course offered as part of the minor is Cultural Aspects of Food and Nutrition, which takes a look at food habits and health beliefs in different cultures. The entire student roadmap for the food studies minor can be read here.

The food studies minor has only recently been established, with the pioneering students starting this semester. Joassart-Marcelli hopes to spread the word and bring more students into the program.

“The food studies minor is brand new and still unknown to many students. We are planning to do some outreach and organize events in the community in the coming months to draw attention to the minor and recruit students interested in food issues,” Joassart-Marcelli explained.

Students can refer to the food studies minor twitter account @FoodSDSU for updates on events and food studies related news. 

Joassart-Marcelli stressed the importance of food and why it would be beneficial for students to study food studies.

“Food in a way, is kind of like literature or art, as it reveals so much about who we are as a society. It carries so much meaning as a cultural symbol and a marker of -and maker- of identity,” Joassart-Marcelli said. Students who are interested in the minor can check out the program webpage here. Prospective food studies students can also reach out to Dr. Joassart-Marcelli through email at pmarcell@sdsu.edu or over the phone at (619) 564-0906.

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