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Graduate Courses

Students are required to satisfactorily complete 32 credits of coursework or eight 4-unit classes drawn from four core classes and four electives offered in rotation. The degree can be completed in four semesters with a full-time two-course load each semester or may be completed over several years. Students and community members may take single courses without seeking the degree; non-degree seeking students must have an undergraduate degree and will pay the same tuition as matriculated students.

The program offered two ways to complete the Master of Arts degree:

Thesis Project Option (total 32 units)

All students must take Food 201: Introduction to Food Studies during their first year, Food 208: Research Methods in Food Studies in their second semester or as soon as possible, and Food 299: Thesis Project in their second year if full time or in the last or second-last semester if part time. In addition, students must complete two other core courses and three elective courses anytime during their degree course work. Each course is 4 units.

Non-Thesis/Exam Option (total 32 units)

All students must take Food 201: Introduction to Food Studies during their first year. In addition, students must complete three other core courses and four elective courses anytime during their degree course work. Non-thesis students are strongly encouraged to take Food 208: Research Methods, usually in their second semester, as one of their core courses. In advance of their final semester, students will meet with the program director to schedule and complete their MA comprehensive examination. Each course is 4 units.

Core Courses

Food 201: Introduction to Food Studies
This course explored the field of Food Studies from a multidisciplinary perspective. Drawing from classic and recent scholarship, students examined production, distribution, and consumption patterns in the United States and around the world, research methodologies, and practical applications of food studies in daily life and as a career.

Food 202: History of Food
This course was a detailed examination of the importance of food as a catalyst in history. Students focused on interpretation of primary documents and critical assessment of secondary literature.  The class covered from human evolution and the Neolithic Revolution to the present time through texts focusing on production, consumption, diet, religion, ethics, and culture. Specific units include Classical Greece and Rome, Bible and Early Christianity, Han Dynasty China, India, Abbasid Baghdad, Medieval Europe, Renaissance, Aztecs, Edo Japan, The Industrial Era, Colonization and Global Politics, 20th Century. 

Food 203: Food Writing
This course explored contemporary food writing and introduce a variety of popular and scholarly publications. Course time included engaging with established authors about their own journey into food writing and about their particular specialization. Genres interrogated include culinary history, cookbooks, investigative journalism, food blogs, and scholarly essays. 

Food 204: Anthropology of Food 
This course examines food and human social life through an ethnographic lens. Students apply a cross-cultural approach to consider how and why food matters far beyond individual bodies or branded lifestyles. We will begin with meals, communities, and identities, and scale upwards to explore how food shapes global systems of trade, agriculture, and migration-as well as the lives and places caught up in it. Reading and assignments analyze how social institutions shape food and its meanings, and how people use food to organize their worlds and sense of self. Each week asks students to reflect on their own relationships with food and reconsider how producing, sharing, or consuming food can be a meaningful act.

Food 205: Food and the Environment
Agriculture has the largest environmental footprint of any human enterprise, and yet, almost 800 million people in the world are still malnourished. Can our environment sustain feeding more people? To answer this question, this course explored foundational texts, theories, and histories, and focus on topics such as human population and natural resource use, the history and global movement of plants and animals, the environmental footprint of food production, and sustainable agriculture.

Food 206: Sociology of Food
This course consisted of a detailed exploration of the industrial food system. Presented mainly through the lens of political economy and ecology, topics included labor, effects on urban and rural communities, the rise of industrial organic production, inequalities, culture, and movements for food system reform. The course included field trips and/or guest speakers from local food policy organizations.

Food 207: Food, Nutrition and Human Health 
Drawing on the frameworks of Critical Nutrition Studies, this course offers a critical analysis of nutrition in the United States, historically and in the present. We examine the cultural impacts of nutrition science and dietary advice in shaping notions of health and citizenship, and exacerbating social inequalities.  

Food 208: Research Methods in Food Studies
Research Methods covered basic techniques for collecting, interpreting and analyzing qualitative data in the field of food studies. The class examined the theoretical approaches to various types of qualitative research as well as the practical techniques of data collection, such as working with primary documents, identifying key informants, selecting respondents, collecting field notes, analyzing data, writing and presenting findings to academic and non-academic audiences. 

Food 299: Thesis Project
The thesis project is a sustained, semester-long project researched and written under the direct supervision of a thesis advisor. The advisor and one outside reader appointed by the program director will evaluate the written thesis.


Food 231: Food and Literature

This course provided an introduction to literary food studies and trace the development of key themes within food literature over the past two centuries, ranging from the role of meat in American society to the ways in which eating and cooking nourish the imagination. Students began the semester by reading Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing before moving onto such literary classics as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's Physiology of Taste, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, M. F. K. Fisher's The Gastronomical MeThe Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, and Ruth Ozeki's My Year of Meats. In addition, they explored the historical development of non-fiction food writing genres, including cookbooks, culinary memoir, and gastronomic essays. Course assignments focused on improving writing skills, oral communication, and literary analyses. 

Food 232: Local Food History: A Case Study of San Francisco
In this course we will cover the history of food in the San Francisco Bay Area, tracing how succeeding waves of immigrants adapted their cuisines to a rich new environment. From the Spanish mission period through Chez Panisse and the California Cuisine movement, we will examine changing foodways as well as the marketing of particular dishes and restaurants to locals and to visitors from around the world. Students will visit culinary sites important to the history of the city, such as the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown, the Cinderella Russian Bakery in the Inner Richmond, and the Anchor Brewery on Potrero Hill. Readings include Jennifer Lee's The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Matthew Booker's Down By The Bay: San Francisco's History Between the Tides, and Sally Fairfax's California Cuisine and Just Food. You will also get trained in oral history methods and in writing local food history. After reading Carol Kammen's On Doing Local History, weekly assignments will lead you, step by step, through the research and writing stages of a twelve-page research paper about a specific topic in San Francisco food history. Students will work with both primary and secondary materials relating to their topic, and are encouraged to incorporate oral history research where appropriate.

Food 233: Food Marketing
This course was designed to explore the factors that influence the acquisition, consumption, and disposition of food-related products and services.  The course focused on the four Ps (product, price, placement, and promotions) as they relate to the food industry with the specific intention of looking at a diverse set of strategies and tactics utilized by the food marketplace in the sourcing, production, distribution, and sale of food-related products and services. Additionally, the course examined the role of marketing in both initiating and facilitating movements such as slow food, fast food, farm to fork and sustainability initiatives in the food marketplace.  

Food 234: Food Justice
This class Investigates the roles of race, class, gender, national status, and sexuality to the inequities within the food system. Throughout the semester we examine the historical and structural roots of injustice, the response by communities and the organized resistance from social movements. Students will reflect on the transformative power of food movements locally and internationally. This course includes field trips to and/or guest speakers from local food justice organizations.

Food 235: The Business of Food
This course overviewed the contemporary food and beverage industry.  An in-depth industry analysis provided the foundation for an exploration of significant challenges confronting firms operating in food and beverage manufacturing, service, and distribution.  Included are topics such as supply chain evolution, the effects of government regulation, the economic impact of rising food costs, and the vast complexities of cultural, social and behavioral trends affecting food consumption.  Emerging best business practices were also discussed. 

Food 287: Internship (2-4 units)
An internship facilitates student experiential learning as they prepare themselves academically and practically for a different or new career. Students with legal authorization to work in the United States are not required to register for the Internship Course in order to intern, however, those students who wish to receive credit for their internship must register for the Internship Course. Internship placement is based on student initiative, goals, and background. Internship work and assessment details are formalized in a contract between the instructor and the student, both of which must be formally approved by the program director.  

Food 291: Independent Study (1-4 units)

Food 293: Special Topics (2-4 units)

Food 293 Special Topics: The Food Industry: from Enterprise to Entrepreneur

This class provided a multisectoral overview of both prevailing and emerging structures and dynamics of the food industry. We explored the food value chain from  field to fork, employing the frameworks of strategic business analysis, market failure,  and the influences of policy and the regulatory environment. Students used these  frameworks to evaluate and assess business models, products, and activities of established "Big Food" players and new market entrants. The class included evaluation of current topics and non-market actors shaping the food industry to explore how cultural and social behaviors affect food consumption, as well as industry organization,  the behavior and activities of industry participants. Also included was a survey of basic concepts related to product development, pricing, and marketing.