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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. 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.

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.” 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.

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

IDS 1106 - You Are What You Eat

Develop your “foodie” identity by blogging and vlogging about food. Experience entrepreneurship in action by partnering with local entrepreneurs to explore the farm-to-table process, particularly in terms of sustainability, education, and accessibility. In this course, we’ll explore the growing literature and discourse surrounding local and organic food movements and put this knowledge to action in our blogs, vlogs, and partnerships. We’ll create cookbooks that address a variety of issues surrounding how to produce local food sustainably and provide fair access to “good” food sources for members of the community who, traditionally, do not have such access. Finally, we’ll experience entrepreneurship in action by working with constituents to develop and enact a plan in terms of producing, providing, and educating people about food (e.g. food selection and preparation). After learning about the entrepreneurs’ visions, we will assist the constituents in generating resources for their venture.

FST 2110 - Reel Food and World Cinema

Food has been part of the semiotic process of film-making since films began. Both food and film provide information about ourselves and our values. They both communicate information about our political and economic aspirations, ethnic and religious values, and even sexual and philosophical identities. Both enrich our minds with ideas about adventure and bravery, hope and despair, love and romance, and more. This course explores the representations of food in world cinema. We will pay special attention to the social, cultural and historical issues depicted in films from around the world. In addition to analyzing films as pieces of artist cinematic expression, we will also examine the multiple roles that “culinary images’ play in world cinema. We will also pay special attention to how food production and preparation, presentation and consumption can play an important role in film structure, character development and film themes.

KIN 2326 - Performance Nutrition

Performance Nutrition examines the role of nutrition in physical activity and athletic performance. Topics include bioenergetics, the effect of food on metabolism and how food content and quality impacts performance. Using case study and examination, candidates will exhibit understanding  of the role of nutrition in physical activity.

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.

Food Studies Program Requirements

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.