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MEC Food Program

Food Studies

What do world hunger, international trade, and social customs have in common? Food. The political, historical, and cultural connections of food form a complex web, which Food Studies majors seek to untangle.

Degree Types
Major , Minor
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements
Experiential Learning

Food Studies is a unique interdisciplinary, sensory, and experiential field that examines the relationships between food and the human experience from a range of humanities and social science perspectives. Take a deep dive into the development of modern agriculture, public health, the globalization of food production, and the quantitative study of food systems and cultures.

Anthropologist Sidney Mintz remarked once that “Food is such a powerful dimension of our consciousness as living things, to omit it from the study of human behavior would be egregious.” An interdisciplinary major, Food Studies will take you on a journey from the origins of food to the contemporary diet, incorporating subjects and sources from all over the world.

The Food Studies program will be led by our expert faculty from various fields of study. Students will explore subjects ranging from global food culture, food in film, literature and the arts, food systems and food ways, food-growing practices and food marketing to global food security and public health issues like obesity and malnutrition. The program partners with local restaurants, farmers, wineries, distilleries and breweries, and advocacy organizations to enable students to supplement their classroom learning with hands-on experience.

Future Career Paths

A degree in Food Studies is a pathway to careers and graduate study in food policy research and advocacy, environmentally sustainable agriculture, urban policy analysis and management, food marketing and distribution, public relations, and business administration for governments, NGOs, culinary journalism, and food and culinary businesses.

food science graphic

Distinctive Courses

FST 2201 - Food – A Global History

​​​​​This course will explore the history of food from the prehistoric world and the earliest hunting and gathering societies to the present, as we consider examples from every corner of the world. It will focus on how and why civilizations have been shaped by geography, flora and fauna and technological developments that have enabled humans to exploit natural resources. 

FST 3308 - Literary Feast Round the Globe

​​​​​Food is one of the most universally used themes in literary works since ancient times. In this course, students will study the role of food in literature written by “global” authors and ethnic writers. Food is used in literature to present interpretations of culture, history, politics, ethnicity, and gender issues.

SOC 2208 - Food, Culture, and Society

​​​​​Eating: the consumption of nutrients is a biological imperative; but food is more than nutrition. This course will enable students to develop a sociological framework for understanding the role of food in their own lives, that of the contemporary United States, as well as a broader perspective for engaging other cultures.

ENV 2118 - Changing Food Systems

​​​​​This course examines contemporary efforts and initiatives to address the challenges of sustainability, health, and equity in our agri-food systems. Focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the North American context, this course considers multiple aspects of agri-food systems from “the farm to the fork” and back again.

McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

Cleo Braver ' 78 greenhouse


Cleo Braver ’78 is probably not who you picture when you think of farmers on the eastern shore of Maryland. Braver’s time on the Hill was spent studying Economics, but she went on to law school and became an environmental attorney. An advocate for clean farming, Braver and her husband own Cottingham Farm, the first USDA certified organic vegetable grower in Talbot County.

Mohamed Esa

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT Mohamed Esa Professor of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Professor Mo Esa is coordinator of the Food Studies program. In addition to teaching German language, literature and culture classes, he also offers courses on fairy tales, food studies, Arab-American literature, Islam and the Arab world.