Food Courses at the University of Virginia

Farmers Markets, Food Politics and Research Methods

PLAP 4500


French Culture: Food in Literature and Film

FRTR 2552-1


Taught by Jennifer Holm
More than any other nation, France is readily associated with food and gastronomy. Gertrude Stein famously wrote, \"[France] is a country where they talk about eating. Every country talks about eating but in that country they talk about talking about eating.\" Indeed, the restaurant review and the food critic were born in France, as were myriad culinary terms such as “gastronomy”, “cuisine”, and “chef”. All of this “food talk” has long extended beyond conversation, permeating the nation’s literature and film. This course will examine the enduring presence of food in fiction and non-fiction texts dating back to the sixteenth century, as well as in contemporary French cinema. Students in this course will explore a number of questions: What does food mean in France? What is the relationship between food and culture? How do the French harness cuisine as a political, social, and cultural tool? How does food connect France’s past, present, and future?

All readings will be in English translation and discussion will be in English. This course may not be taken as part of the requirements for the major or minor in French. This course fulfills the second writing requirement.

Introductory Chinese


Ryan Wever


Students will learn tones...

Moral Ecology of Food

IHGC 5559

Emily Sydnor


Taught by Willis Jenkins.

This interdisciplinary seminar treats the ethics of food as a way into questions about humanity’s changing role within ecological systems. Exploring a series of controversies arising within contemporary food practices – including obligations to the hungry, responses to obesity, labor fairness, genetic technologies, and treatment of animals - it connects contemporary food movements and food arguments to to broader inquiries about the interpretation of nature and the rights and goods of a human life.

Hosted by the Institute for the Humanities and Global Cultures, this seminar seeks to develop conversation across departments and disciplines. It is open to any graduate student interested in developing cross-disciplinary aptitudes. Space is limited.

Food Heritage Workshop

PLAC 5853

Emily Sydnor


Taught by Tanya Denckla Cobb and Kendra Hamilton.

If you're still thinking about what classes to take, here's a new one that will build important media and narrative skills for your work. Understanding how to work with a community by conveying a "story" is becoming a critical skill. There has even been a webinar or two in the past year on the importance of learning to convey "story" -- for planners, which shows how this skill's importance is broadening! In this class you will learn to create a narrative digital map, a podcast, and how to conduct qualitative interviews that will inform your research paper. All will aim to tell the story about a specific aspect of food heritage (your choice) and how it is influencing the community's present and future in terms of sustainability, identity, sense of place.

So, if you love food - this may be your class! Are you curious about its origins? histories? current evolution? connections to politics, culture, and narrative? Are you an independent learner, interested in researching and meeting people in the community? Then look no further - this class, focusing on the heritage foods of Virginia is for you.

Built Environment & Public Health: Local to Global

SARC 3559/5559 and PHS 3620/5620

Emily Sydnor


Taught by Wendy Cohn.

How do sidewalks, block parties, food deserts, and transit systems impact our health? Does your environment contribute to your physical activity and sense of well-being? How would you re-design your environment and life to maximize your health and happiness?

This course will address these and other fundamental questions in the built environment and public health. We will ask you to consider that health is a universal aspiration and concern for both individuals and societies, both local and global. We need to consider health in the design of our built envi­ronment to prevent a range of negative impacts including expo­sures to toxic hazards, traffic injury, urban sprawl, segregation, concentrated poverty, degraded food environments, loss of public space, and global climate change.

The plan­ning and design of a built environment that acknowledges individual and public health as a driving condition and works with the ecologies of our planet requires solutions that cut across the traditional boundaries of interest groups and disciplines. Your instructors will frame weekly topics from the perspective of Architecture and Public Health, and will invite guests from other disciplines to contribute their research and experience to the class. On-line communication, multi-media and team-based learning will be used to broaden awareness and discussion of the issues.

The future requires a new generation of practitioners who embrace an interdisciplinary approach to design, policy, and planning of healthy communities. This course is intended to enable you to participate in making the world more sustainable and just by connecting the themes of the course with your own life through decisions you make, support for policies and public communication.

Love Jonson


Food Justice

PLAC 5500

Allison Spain


This course will build upon the previous 7 years of community food system class research, to conduct an assessment of food justice for the City of Charlottesville. Student findings will be submitted to the city for consideration in its new Comprehensive Plan and neighborhood plans. Students will learn and use best practices for community engagement while working with six selected Charlottesville neighborhoods to conduct (and test) a newly developed “food justice audit.” They will interview neighborhood leaders and community residents about their experiences with hunger, access to fresh, healthy food, their perception of food justice, impacts of local food initiatives, and ideas for advancing Charlottesville’s food justice. In addition to conducting research on food justice policies, students will do their field work at the grassroots level, gaining important skills in cultural diversity, observation, listening, and will synthesize their experiences in project papers and presentations of research findings to the city, as well as ethnographies guided by advisory faculty, Dr. Kendra Hamilton. By the end of the class, students will have gained important skills in community-based planning and policies, which are now considered essential for numerous professions.

Food Policy

PPOL 4500

Paul Martin


The Frank Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy hosts a unique 1-credit short course, running on Thursdays from September 6-October 4.

This course is taught by the former Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.

The course will examine the development of public policies that impact the production, processing, and marketing of food in the United States. Secondary attention will be given to the issue of international food security.

The Politics of Food

PLAP 3160

Paul Freedman

JTerm & Summer

This course looks at the production and consumption of food in a political context. We will explore legislation, regulation, and other policies that affect the food system and examine their implications for the environment, public health and democratic politics. We will look closely at controversies over agricultural subsidies, labeling requirements, farming practices, food safety, food distribution, advertising and education.

Regenerative Design at Morven 2.0

ALAR 5500

Karolin Moellmann


This course investigates how design interventions impact different routines and interactions, with effects for research/learning habits, health of the body, the landscape and the constructed environment. We will be testing these ideas at Morven by exploring different ways of reading, measuring, and interacting with various sites, which will evolve into the design and construction of an outdoor armature. This project will allow us to engage with and transform the Morven landscapes of production and representation in a new way.

Food and Nutrition in a Changing World

EVSC 4559

Manuel Lerdau


This class examines human nutrition in the context of environmental and social changes that are occurring across the Earth's surface. The world today is experiencing an unprecedented combination of ecological, technological, and cultural changes that, both individually and in concert, are affecting the foods we produce and consume. These effects alter the number of people the Earth can support and the qualities of the lives people can lead. We will focus on large scale phenomena such as transportation, cultural exchange, genetic engineering, and climate change in the context of how they affect food production and quality. Questions underlying our examinations will include aspects of environmental and social sustainability and human health.

Farmers' Markets and Applied Food Systems Research

PLAC 5501

Tanya Denckla Cobb, Paul Freedman


This seminar will provide an introduction to food systems research with a focus on farmers' markets. Students will gain practical experience in applied data gathering and analysis, building a set of skills that can be applied in studying farmers' markets throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. A roster of guest lecturers, developed in collaboration with the national Farmers Market Coalition, will include researchers, policy makers, farmers' market managers, and farmers.

Animals and Ethics

PHIL 3652

Sahar Akhtar


This course will examine the moral status of non-human animals and what the major ethical theories imply for our treatment of animals, including in scientific research and food. In an effort to examine their moral status, we will explore the questions of whether and to what extent animals experience pain and emotions.

The Chemical Century

CHEM 2350

Richard Sundberg


This course will explore the chemical component of some major technological changes of the 20th century including explosives, fuels, polymers, consumer products, agriculture, food processing, nutrition, and drugs. The discovery, development and implementation of key technologies will be discussed along with the societal impact. Biographical and historical information about inventors or companies will supplement the material.

Food in the 21st Century

ENWR 1510

Marielle Price


An English Writing course on Food in the 21st Century.

Food and Culture

ENWR 1510

Anne Llewellyn


An English Writing course on Food and Culture.

Ecology of Food in a Changing World

COLA 1500

Manuel Lerdau


This class examines food ecology in the context of environmental, cultural, technological, and social changes that are occurring across the Earth's surface. These changes alter the number of people the Earth can support and the qualities of the lives people can lead. From rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, to potatoes with firefly genes, to supertankers that can move thousands of tons of fruit across the Pacific in days, to the rise of the Golden Arches as a symbol more recognizable than most national flags, we are seeing dramatic shifts in the foods we produce and consume. This seminar will focus on large scale phenomena such as transportation, cultural exchange, genetic engineering, and climate change in the context of how they affect the demand for food, the production of food, and food quality. The class also considers aspects of environmental and social sustainability and human health.

Kudzu Root: Harvesting and Processing


Anson Parker


Kudzu, aka Pueraria lobata, aka Scourge of the South... has become interesting in recent years as an antidipsotropic; lowering one's tolerance to alcohol. The net result is that alcohol has a stimulating effect in lower quantities with fewer side effects.

By harvesting the root of the kudzu, grinding it to separate the fibers from the product a fine powder is produced that may be added to soups and dressings especially as a thickener much like arrow root.

Harvesting kudzu root takes some doing. For historical reasons it grows along the train tracks to prevent erosion, although now it has outgrown it's initial goal. By harvesting the root we'll be simultaneously weeding the land of an invasive species while harvesting a nutritious and tasty product.

Sustainable Living

INST 2500

Marga Odahowski


Sustainable living will explore personal, social and ecological knowledge and practices. This class will introduce you to a personal practice of sustainability and provide information and experiences to enhance your connection to yourself and your community.

We will explore personal mastery for environmental and social responsibility, and as a green school how we contribute to making our community more sustainable, and serve as models of responsible action. A variety of teaching strategies will be used to fostering sustainable living.

Federal Land Policy in Modern America

HIUS 4501-4

Laura Kolar


This course explores federal policies affecting American lands from just after the Civil War through the New Deal era—years when many of the United States’ formative policies affecting both public and private lands were enacted. We investigate not only the origins of federal policy overseeing public lands, such as the conservation policies of the U.S. Forest Service, and the preservation policies of the National Park Service, but also federal agricultural and water policies that directly affected private lands. We examine the contexts of and ideologies behind the development of these policies as well as the ways these policies shaped diverse peoples’ experiences and landscapes across America. Students are introduced to scholarly debates over the origins, development and implementation of federal land policies. The course asks students to always consider the following broad question: how has the relationship between humans and nature, as forged through federal land policy, shaped the development of modern America? In addition, we contemplate other questions, such as: what motivated policymakers to create the policies they did at that time in history? How do conflicts over land-use approaches and between different peoples reveal insights into contending values and priorities in America? What should the role of the state be in managing and influencing public and private lands?

Mindful Leadership

USEM 1570-004

Marga Odahowski


Throughout our careers and in life we are called to lead. Many of us have little formal education in the skills of observation, teaming and reflection that are necessary in leadership development. Drawing from cognitive science, business and the arts this course will introduce students to current leadership research and practices as it relates to the skills of self-mastery that enhance leadership.

Introduction to Urban and Enviromental Planning

PLAN 1030

Tim Beatley


This course analyzes community and environmental planning in the United States and describes and critiques the planning process and through the lens of sustainability. Students will consider how sustainability has been defined and whether it is a useful construct for evaluating development and planning. Students will create an expanded definition for sustainable communities and review and critique several projects as to whether they meet this definition.

The course will examine key elements of the urban development: development patterns, mobility and transportation, natural capital and green infrastructure. Students will evaluate the ecological, economic and social implications for each of these elements and assess how the modern regulatory framework contributes to or hinders good design and development practices. For example, instead of thinking about transportation as road planning, transportation will be examined through the construct of how to move people to the places they most need and want to reach in ways that are efficient, healthful and ecologically and economically sustainable.


SWAG 3250

Kendra Hamilton


This new service learning course for the College and Studies in Women and Gender explores the legacy of the "hidden wounds" left upon the landscape by plantation slavery along with the visionary work of ecofeminist scholars and activists daring to imagine an alternative future. Readings, guest lectures, and field trips are designed to illumine the ways in which gender, race, and power are encoded in historical, cultural, and physical landscapes associated with planting/extraction regimes such as tobacco, sugar, rice, and corn. Key works of art—from the Nashville Agrarians to the blues, from ecofeminist sci-fi to contemporary memoir—and volunteer work in local community gardens anchor discussions of ecology, economics, ethics, and literature as students ponder the paradox that American dreams of abundance and self-sufficiency on "free soil" are built on a foundation of coerced labor and farming practices that "rape" the landscape. Readings by Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, Janisse Ray, Linda Hogan, Vandana Shiva, Wangari Maathai, Caroline Gordon and many others.

Ecosystem Effects of Land Use Change

EVSC 5559

Deborah Lawrence


The class is a great way to learn many aspects of ecology in the context of one of the most prevalent environmental changes occuring on the planet: land use change. It happens in your backyard, it happens in the rainforest, it happens everywhere that humans live. We will learn about how land use change alters microbial ecology, population ecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, and physiological ecology and ultimately how local change can alter the way the global biosphere functions. THIS CLASS IS NOT TARGETED AT GRAD STUDENTS ONLY! It is at the 5000 level primarily to make it easy for both undergrads and grads to enroll.

Tropical Forests and Climate Change

EVSC 4559/7559

Deborah Lawrence


Tropical deforestation contributes 10-20% of the TOTAL anthropogenic CO2 emissions around the globe. Much of that deforestation occurs to produce food--through either industrial scale (soy, cattle, oil palm) or small scale (shifting cultivation) agriculture. Come explore interactions between deforestation and climate, between developing and developed nations, and between economics and science.

Nutrition in a Changing World

PAVS 4500

Manuel Lerdau


Humans need to eat; this truth has informed all societies since they arose. A bagel from Bodos or a Greenberries croissant tastes pretty different from the gruel and biscuits consumed on the Lawn in the 1800s. But human nutritional needs are still essentially the same. This class examines human nutrition in the context of environmental, cultural, technological, and social changes that are occurring across the Earth’s surface. These changes alter the number of people the Earth can support and the qualities of the lives people can lead. From rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, to potatoes with firefly genes, to supertankers that can move thousands of tons of fruit across the Pacific in days, to the rise of the Golden Arches as a symbol more recognizable than most national flags, we are seeing dramatic shifts in the foods we produce and consume. This seminar will focus on large scale phenomena such as transportation, cultural exchange, genetic engineering, and climate change in the context of how they affect the demand for food, the production of food, and food quality. The class will also consider aspects of environmental and social sustainability and human health. Topics will include what we need to eat, (post-) Modern Genetics, the rise of red meat across the globe, transports and storage of food, fast food and faster lives, urbanization and food availability, obesity across cultures, classes, and ages, and healthful diets and social justice. The class will combine traditional seminar-based protocols – reading, discussion and the writing of one long and two short papers – with more active learning experiences, such as experiments with food storage, surveys of local food sources such as restaurants and grocery stores, cooking experiments, and a workshop with the university and local community on child nutrition. There will also be field trips and visits to local farms, stores, and food providers. Students from the Humanities, Social Sciences, and/or Natural Sciences are welcome to enroll. There are no pre-requisites.

The Anthropology of Food

ANTH 3240

Rose Wellman


How is food nourishing? In this class, we will consider food beyond its role as a life-giving biological substance by addressing the social and cultural significance of food. In particular, we will examine how food practices shape gender, spirituality, the body, and ethnic or national affiliation. A central topic covered in class will be the relationship between the beliefs and behaviors surrounding the production, distribution, and consumption of food - or "food ways"- and personal or group identity and hierarchy. This course provides a general introduction to the anthropology of food and will incorporate a small ethnographic research project on local food ways.

Virginia Food Heritage: Planning for Sustainability & Resilience

PLAC 5500-003

Tanya Denckla Cobb


The course is part of the Virginia Food Heritage Project, a collaborative effort to research,
uncover, and celebrate the heritage foods of Central Virginia. The course will train students in
methods of community-based research through the lens of food heritage to develop planning
and economic development proposals. Students in the class will be given professional training
in conducting qualitative interviews and developing a quality short YouTube-ready film about our
local food heritage.

Principles of Nutrition

BIOL 1060

Reginald Garrett


Topics include the chemical composition of the body; the molecular structure and function of different kinds of nutrients required by humans; the metabolic processes that transform food into energy and the chemical blocks for the creation and renewal of cellular structures; and the basic scientific principle of energy balance that determines weight gain or loss as governed by diet and exercise. Also covered: food safety, food biotechnology, and global concerns about hunger and the environment.



Copyright © 2012 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. All rights reserved.