Adventures in Food Studies, Part 2

As an academic institute of the University of Mississippi, the Southern Foodways Alliance is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of food scholars. We sent Nathalie Dupree Graduate Fellows Abigail Huggins and Victoria De Leone on a mission to track down the nation’s top food studies programs. This week, Victoria highlights programs with a focus on sustainable agriculture and food sciences.

Hands holding young plant

Food Studies: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sciences

Ever wonder about the footprint of your next bite of food? How about what all went into that plate of vegetables you’re eating? Learning about food systems and how they relate to the natural world is an increasingly necessary task. The following schools and programs take it seriously, exploring the science, ethics, and practice of sustainable agriculture and food sciences.

School: Appalachian State University

Location: Boone, North Carolina

Degrees Available: B.S. in Sustainable Development

Description: The program offers B.A. and B.S. degrees with concentrations such Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture. The coursework for this concentration revolves around the theoretical and practical skills needed for careers in food and agriculture. Students learn to build food systems that provide healthy food and support local communities through classes, labs, internships and workshops in collaboration with community organizations, other departments at the university, and individual farmers and food system actors.

Good For: Students looking for a science- and skill-based approach to sustainable agriculture.

Classes: Permaculture Design; Vertebrate Zoology; Vegetation, Soils, and Landforms; Global Nutrition: Emerging Health Challenges; Women, Food and Nature

Contact: Dr. Richard Rheingans

School: Green Market College

Location: Poultney, VT

Degrees Available: M.S. in Sustainable Food Systems; Sustainable M.B.A.

Description: The Online Graduate Studies in Sustainability department actually offers a wealth of food and sustainability degrees. The M.S. in Sustainable Food Systems is the first program of its kind, offering an in-depth exploration of sustainable agriculture online. Students will use their local ecosystems as laboratories to experiment with new ideas and skills.

Good For: Students who want to apply the ideas of sustainable agriculture to their own region.

Classes: Bioregional Theory and the Foodshed; History of American Agriculture; Vegetables and Fruits: Farm to Plate Sustainability; Theory and Practice of Sustainable Agriculture

Contact: Phillip Ackerman-Leist

School: University of Vermont

Location: Burlington, VT

Degrees Available: Minor, M.S. and Ph.D. in Food Systems

Description: Using a cohort approach, this program offers the opportunity to learn from your fellow students and their various backgrounds. Students of the Food Systems programs will explore the social, physical, and life science concepts related to food through collaboration, engagement. They’ll leave the program prepared to address some of the most challenging problems of contemporary food systems. Students generally spend one semester working on a final project, but that can be expanded to a full year if desired.

Good For: Students who want to focus on a substantial research project.

Classes: Food Systems, Science and Policy; Qualitative Research Methods; Food Systems

Application; Master’s Thesis Research

Contact: Dr. Amy Trubek

School: Sterling College

Location: Craftsbury Common, VT

Degrees Available: B.A. in Sustainable Food Systems; B.A. in Sustainable Agriculture

Description: Students at Sterling College will grapple with questions of environment, sustainability, ecology and justice. They will be challenged to participate in a values-driven, place-based food system through their work in the Sterling College Farm, Forest, and Kitchen, and will be expected to participate in a Global Field Study in Chiapas, Mexico.

Good For: Students who want their farming to blend into natural processes.

Classes: Whole Farm Planning; Regenerative Agriculture; Agroecology

Contact: Dr. Nicole Civita

School: Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, NY

Degrees Available: B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology

Description: With a slightly more traditional Food Science department, Cornell offers degrees in many concentrations including Food Microbiology, Dairy Science, Food Engineering, Sensory Evaluation, and Enology. The courses prepare graduates to be the leaders in research and business, innovators, and technical experts that governments, NGOs, and industries need.

Good For: Biologists who like to eat, and eaters who want to know what a centrifuge can do.

Classes: Introduction to Wines and Vines; Kosher and halal Food Regulations; Agriculture in Developing Nations; Food Chemistry;Physical Principles of Food Preservation and Manufacturing

Contact: Erin Atkins