A new “Food Studies” minor has been added to the liberal studies department at Cal State Fullerton and is open for student registration for the first time this semester.
“We want students to learn primarily about social and cultural factors that influence food choices and also the way we think about the meanings of food,” said April Bullock, Ph.D, the food studies minor coordinator.
The minor was put together to compliment other majors, such as business majors that focus on the hospitality industry or communications majors with an emphasis on entertainment and tourism, Bullock said.
Bullock started off as a social and cultural historian who doubled as a home cook and gardener. Her passion for food and history converged when she was writing her dissertation. Over time, she began to publish articles about food history and became a food historian.
“Food is something that we all eat and we all know something about, but I think it’s something that we don’t think very carefully or deeply about generally,” Bullock said.
The minor consists of 18 units from upper-division coursework, which includes a required course that is taught by Bullock. Students can choose classes that range anywhere from nutrition courses to ones that focus on food in relation to culture, such as African American Food Culture (AFAM 301) and Food and American Culture (AMST 418).
“It’ll give you a better perspective on the cultural aspects, maybe the social aspects, associated with food and dietary intakes” said Archana McEligot, Ph.D., a professor connected with the minor. McEligot teaches Nutrition (HESC 350), which is both one of the electives and one of the options to fulfill the nutrition course requirements for the the minor.
“It’s the different perspectives, but also the multiple layers that go into nutrition and nutrition related fields,” McEligot said.
Bullock said she hopes the minor could one day grow to become a major. “It’s a matter of whether or not students are really interested,” Bullock said.
Bullock said she is finalizing an agreement with a food studies center in Rome that will allow students to go there any summer they choose to take a class and complete a food industry internship. They will be able to intern anywhere from farms to coffee businesses, wineries, restaurants or food industries.
The food studies minor launched this fall and currently has 13 faculty members that are connected to it, Bullock said. She said the goal is to have anywhere from 25 to 100 students that will declare the minor this semester.
Students can do so by either going to the liberal studies office or to the admissions and records office, Bullock said.
“Food is connected to technological innovation. It’s connected to trade and economics. It’s connected to the environment. It’s connected to culture and gender. All sorts of things that I think people don’t normally think very deeply about,” Bullock said.