Friday, October 24, 2014

The 411 on the Applied Food Studies Major

by Deja Burrows, Associate in Culinary Arts, from La Papillote

The new AppliedFood Studies major has been the talk of the campus since its announcement. Students in all parts of the associate program have been considering it for their future. Unfortunately, though it is a popular topic, not many people actually know what the program is all about and what students would be best suited for it. I recently spoke to Dr. Maureen Costura, one of the faculty members putting the program together, in order to gain some insight.

This new major is spread over a three-semester period, just slightly shorter than both the other Culinary Management and Culinary Science programs. In order to complete the program students must complete 120 credits in total, making it a relatively intense program. Students may have up to six classes in a semester. Instead of looking at what you can do with food, this new major will look at what food can tell you. The classes will incorporate more social sciences and humanities and it geared toward the intellectually curious chef. It was designed so that those with previous college experience can easily transfer credits that are applicable to the curriculum. The degree’s main focuses include different academic approaches to food, past food and food ways, as well as the relationship between politics, environments, societies, and food. Dr. Costura implied that students will be looking at food as more than just something to eat.

There will be five elective classes for the students to choose from, which will correspond with their mandatory bachelor's classes. Electives include Ecology of Food, Anthropology of Food, History of Food, Food Systems, and Food Policy.

Each class will look at a different aspect of food’s influences. In Ecology of Food, students will evaluate the way in which food effects and is affected be the environment, Anthropology of Food will present the food ways of ancient societies. Here students will seek to understand their way of life through food. History of Food will allow students to study ancient culinary text and to produce food from ancient recipes as authentically as possible. One example of this would be baking bread in an outdoor over. The food system class will look at the movement of foods as well as the ever rising food waste issues. Lastly, the Food Policies class will look at food from a political and economic standpoint. Each of these classes promise to include both practical and theory portions in which the students participation will give them a well-balanced learning experience.

Like most bachelor's programs, the Applied Food Studies major will end with a project, equivalent to a senior thesis. The projects for the next few years are already lined up. In the first project, students will build and maintain a garden on campus. This is to help them understand food systems as well as the influence of the growing process of food. Another project being planned is the replication of a historic, sustainable, Amazonian soil, which has yet to be recreated. Dr. Costura is very excited about all of the future projects and she feels they will be of benefit to more than just the students participating.

Students with interest outside of the kitchen may be attracted to this program due to its unique nature. It is intended for the intellectual students who see food for more than just its culinary purposes. It is intended to inspire and educate those who want to change food policy or be culinary educators. Humanitarians, those interested in the welfare of the public, and students who like to help resolve the global food issues should all look into this program.

Dr. Costura is very excited about the project and believes it is very timely. Currently fresh water supplies are depleting, the world’s population is growing and many go beyond what we have resources for, and the lack of sustainable food sources in third world countries are each problems which needs to be resolved. In the Applied Food Studies program, students will study issues such as these , evaluating possible solutions along the way.

The new program is intended to launch is January. If you want to make a change, learn from the past, and influence more than just the kitchen, ask yourself, “Are you ready for Applied Food Studies?”