UVa Food Courses


Built Environment & Public Health: Local to Global

SARC 3559/5559, PHS 3620/5620

Schaeffer Somers, Wendy Cohn


How do sidewalks, block parties, food deserts, and transit systems impact our health? This course maps the intersections between architecture, urban planning, and public health that shape the built environment, health and well being of our local and global communities. Lectures and learning applications will present the evidence and its limits on topics such as food security, age-friendly cities, obesity, social equity and vulnerable population.

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.


KINE 3400



Studies the basic principles of nutrition, including psychosocial-cultural considerations in dietary intake. Focuses on nutrient sources and actions, digestion, special population needs, weight control, food faddism, international problems, nutrition education, and nutrition-related disorders.

Plants, People, and Culture

EVSC 2200

Thomas Smith


This course will explore the interrelationships between humans and plants. An introduction to basic plant biology provides a framework for exploring the process of plant domestication and the economic and cultural consequences for humans, including plant diversity and use of indigenous plants. The origin and dispersal of major plants used by humans as food, drink, fiber, medicine and fuel will be considered.

Development through Revolution: Exploring Food Justice in Charlottesville

INST 1550

Megan Dister, Brianne Nueslein


This class will explore food justice concerns in relation to the Westhaven public housing community in Charlottesville as well as take an interdisciplinary approach to Charlottesville's local food movement. Students will engage in a semester-long service-learning project that will provide them on-the-ground knowledge as to how food justice affects the local community.

Food and Meaning in Africa and the Diaspora

AAS 3749

L Shutt


This course investigates the traditions and symbolics of food and eating in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora -- wherever people of African descent have migrated or have been forced to move. This course will help students to investigate the way the foods people eat' or don't eat' hold meaning for people within a variety of cultural contexts.Topics will include symbol, taboo, sexuality, bodies, ritual, kinship & beauty, among others.

Collaborative Planning for Sustainability

PLAC 5240

E Dukes


Examines the processes by which consensus can be developed, focusing on general negotiation theory and skill development, including the concept of principled negotiation; the conflict landscape, including government and non-government organizations; and negotiation resources and opportunities, including organizations, processes and enabling legislation.

Food and Drug Law

LAW 7034

Margaret Riley


This course considers the Food and Drug Administration as a case study of an administrative agency that must combine law and science to regulate activities affecting public health and safety.

Global Sustainability

ARCH 2150/ARCH 5150/COMM 3880

Phoebe Crisman


Earth’s ecosystems are unraveling at an unprecedented rate, threatening human well-being and posing substantial challenges to contemporary society. Designing sustainable practices, institutions, and technologies for a resource-constrained world is our greatest challenge. This integrated and interdisciplinary course prepares students to understand, innovate and lead the efforts necessary to engage in this task.

The Anthropology of Food

ANTH 3240

Ravindra Khare

Spring, Summer

By exploring food and eating in relationship to such topics as taboo, sexuality, bodies, ritual, kinship, beauty, and temperance and excess, this course will help students to investigate the way the foods people eat--or don't eat--hold meaning for people within multiple cultural contexts.

Feasting, Fasting and Faith: Food in Judaism and Christianity

RELG 3380

Vanessa Ochs


Through reading, studying films and eating, we will learn how preparing food, consuming it, and abstaining from it have been made sacred and ethical in Jewish and Christian Practices. This course will be especially relevant to people with an ardent interest in foods (foodies).

Talking about Food

ENWR 1510

Keith Driver


A single-semester option for meeting the first writing requirement. For placement guidelines see http://www.engl.virginia.edu/undergraduate/writing/placement. Topics vary each semester and can be found using the SIS Class Search.

Rhetoric of Food

ENWR 1510

Amy Boyd


A single-semester option for meeting the first writing requirement. For placement guidelines see http://www.engl.virginia.edu/undergraduate/writing/placement. Topics vary each semester and can be found using the SIS Class Search.

Food and Culture

COLA 1500

Lisa Shutt


Food is much more than a biological need for human beings. People are meaning-makers, inseparable from the cultural frameworks in which they find themselves enmeshed. What we eat, the way we eat, and whether or not we prepare or provide food for others is every bit as much symbolic as it is rooted in biological survival. We create self identity, claim ethnic and national affiliation and affirm our maleness and femaleness with the foods we purchase, prepare, select or order from a menu. This course will help students to investigate the way the foods people eat—or don’t eat—hold meaning for people within multiple cultural contexts. We will explore perspectives on food from a selection of disciplines represented in the College of Arts and Sciences, touching on the differences between the methodologies, research topics and histories of different disciplines. Finally, this course will also enter the practical arena, focusing on a number of topics related to advising and opportunities available to students in the College. These topics include advice on selecting and declaring a major, exploring the library system, critical thinking and writing, understanding undergraduate research opportunities, seeking out scholarships and grants, understanding the range of study abroad opportunities, and more.

Food Talk

COLA 1500

Ashley Williams


You are what you eat. Honey, eat your vegetables. Fusion. Paleo. Locavore.How we talk about food has a surprising influence on how we eat, and reveals much about what we think. In this seminar, we adopt an interdisciplinary approach (including, but not limited to, linguistics, anthropology, history, sociology, and cognitive science) to examine this relationship between food and language. From celebrity chefs to food trucks, from potato chips to freedom fries, we turn our critical and analytic gaze to a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural sampling of menus, recipes, and cuisines. Questions we will consider include: How has the writing of recipes changed through history? What can so-called “ethnic” restaurants and menus tell us about how we view ethnicity in America? Does language influence the perception of taste? Why do we talk about “healthy” foods and “sinful” foods in such different ways? And why do we call our loved ones “honey” and “sugar”?

Health and Our Environment

COLA 1500

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?We will explore the complex interactions between the built environment and human health as a basis for living sustainably in the world. We will look at the surrounding built environment with a fresh perspective.You will be able to:1. Explain how the built environment shapes individual and population health through positive and negative impacts.2. Identify and connect the systems and elements of the built environment.3. Describe the role of the disciplines that determine the form and function of the built environment including public health, planning, architecture, and engineering.4. Identify and assess methods, sources and resources for conducting and evaluating research in the built environment and public health.

5. Communicate effectively demonstrating compassion, responsibility, and professionalism with peers in class and through on-line media.

Virginia's Table: Food, Slavery and Identity

COLA 1500

Kelley Deetz


This seminar explores the culinary history of nineteenth-century Virginia. We will research archival, archaeological, and oral histories, visit historic kitchens, and recreate a period feast. Special focus will be given to the roles of enslaved cooks, and the various functions of food both at the University and on Virginian plantations.

Sustainability and Human Needs

STS 3500/SYS 4502

Garrick Louis


(This course was part of the Morven Summer Institute) What is a sustainable quality of life or standard of living? Is it at the current level of consumption in industrialized countries like the US, in emerging economies like China, or in lower-income countries like Kenya? How should governments balance the need to create national income and provide for the human needs of their citizens against the desire to conserve natural resources and the environment for future generations? This course will analyze sustainability in the context of human needs and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The course will examine the methods and costs of satisfying these needs, including the externalities they incur and the tradeoffs involved between social benefit and environmental impact. Coverage of the Millennium Development Goals will emphasize the special needs of Sub-Saharan Africa, and prepare students completing the course for internships in the Young African Leaders Initiative to be held at Morven Farm beginning June 16th.

Global Health Policy and Practice

PHS 5184

Global Health Policy and Practice


(This course is part of the Morven Summer Institute)Many speak of “global health,” and yet what does that term mean for an individual, for a community, for a nation, for a planet? One group of physicians and public health professionals developed this definition:“Global health is an area for study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Global health emphasizes transnational health issues, determinants, and solutions; involves many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration; and is a synthesis of population-based prevention with individual-level clinical care. (Koplan JP et al. Lancet. 2009: 373 (1993-5).”Using this definition as a starting point, we will explore and assess how individuals, organizations, and governments have become engaged in global health, what impacts they may have, how they interact, and where and how you might become involved either as an informed citizen or an active participant. Activities will include local field trips; global teleconferences; and training in global health policy analysis.


EVSC 4559

Manuel Lerdau


(This course is part of the Morven Summer Institute)This class will cover the fundamental principles of agro-ecology, the science of using ecological theory to improve agricultural practice. We will begin with the basics of plant-crop science and integrate the fundamental biology of crops into an ecological view of growth and production. Specific topics we will cover include, but are not limited to, mono- vs. poly-culture approaches, drought stress, and disease ecology. The class will look in some detail at the ecological consequences of traditional and modern breeding approaches. We will also examine the roles of economic and sociocultural factors in designing ecologically aware agricultural systems. Students should, but are not required to, have Introductory Biology and Introductory Chemistry. The course will be international in scope but will focus on Central Virginia for field projects.

Farmers Markets, Food Politics and Research Methods

PLAP 4500



(Part of the Morven Summer Institute)This course explores the politics of food and food systems, with a focus on farmers markets. What role do farmers markets play in America’s food system? What legislation and regulation at the federal and state levels affects how farmers markets carry out these roles? Students will gain practical experience in applied data gathering and analysis, building a set of skills that can be applied in studying farmers markets. A roster of guest lecturers, developed in collaboration with the national Farmers Market Coalition, will include researchers, policy makers, farmers market managers, and farmers. Students who take this course will be eligible for a research internship in a Virginia farmers market.

French Culture: Food in Literature and Film

FRTR 2552-1

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.

Moral Ecology of Food

IHGC 5559

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

Tanya Denckla Cobb


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.

The Sustainable Landscape

NCAR 118

Catherine Clary


Explores the basics of home gardening including soil, fertility, insect management, and plant selection and culture, with an emphasis on ecologically sound practices that improve or protect the environment.

Food Policy II

PPOL 6500

Galen Fountain


This class will examine policy development relating to food safety, the relationship of food and public health and nutrition policies, and other regulatory activities involving food processes from production to consumption. The course will involve selected readings (available on-line or to be posted on Collab), use of public documents, and class discussion with a focus both on policy trends of recent years as well as current policy debates in Congress and elsewhere.

Food Policy I

PPOL 6500

Galen Fountain


This class will examine policy development relating to food production, processing, and marketing with an emphasis on food security (both domestic and global) and the sustainability of food systems. The course will involve selected readings (available on-line or to be posted on Collab), use of public documents, and class discussion with a focus both on policy trends of recent years as well as current policy debates in Congress and elsewhere.

Sustainability in Depth: Studies in Innovation

GBUS 8070

Andrea Larson


This course is a reading seminar designed to familiarize students with core writings on entrepreneurial ideas as they intersect with natural systems concerns. Prerequisites: restricted to Darden students

Water Sustainability

EVSC 4650

Brian Richter


In this course we will explore the dimensions of what “sustainability” and “sustainable development” mean in the context of water use and management. We will examine the different ways in which water is used, valued, and governed, examining sustainability through different lenses and perspectives. This course will NOT count for the Math/Science area requirement in the College.

Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship

GBUS 8060

Andrea Larson


The purpose of this course is to provide students with practical information on the growing frontier of innovation and entrepreneurial activity at the nexus of business and natural systems. The term ‘sustainable business’ refers to competitively advantageous strategies and practices firms adopt to grow revenues, cut costs, improve market share, enhance brands, and redesign products and processes to reduce or eliminate adverse environmental and health impacts. Students will study trends and science driving the growing demand for clean technology and life cycle product designs. Students will look at drivers of corporate innovation, strategic shifts, and new markets, learn skills to help identify market opportunities, and understand the tools, concepts, and frameworks used by companies currently pursuing sustainable business opportunities. Through the use of articles, technical notes, cases, and guests, the course examines company strategies and practices while providing history and frameworks for context and comprehension.

Resources and the Environment

EVSC 1080

James Galloway & Kathryn Lecroy


Explores the impact of people on the environment in the past and present with projections for the future. Addresses the phenomena and effects of food and energy production and industrial processes, including such topics as lead pollution, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, and the disposal of radioactive waste. Demonstrates how the environment works in the absence of humans and discusses how human use of resources perturbs the environment.

America and the Ethics of Food and Energy in the 21st Century

ISHU 4890-870

Mark Fowler


Note: Course held at Richmond Regional Center. Examines deep and complex ethical issues within the United States regarding the production of food and energy, corporate social responsibility, duties to future generations, and national interest versus obligations to other peoples.

Business and Sustainability

GBUS 8462

Earl Brownlee & Mark White


This course is intended to provide students with a comprehensive conceptual and applied understanding of the sustainability challenges and opportunities facing corporations on a global scale with primary emphasis on environmental sustainability. Students will be exposed to a variety of pressing sustainability issues and to new techniques and approaches for successfully dealing with them. Prerequisites: Restricted to Darden students.