Food Studies Program


Are you curious about where and how the food you eat is grown and processed? Do you want to ensure all people have access to ample nutritious food? Are you interested in working for a growing food-based business? Then an undergraduate minor in Food Studies may be for you!

Maine Pie Co.

Local business, The Maine Pie Co., showing off some of their products, Spring 2017, photo by Greta Rybus


The Food Studies Program is designed to provide a comprehensive learning experience about food systems that is tailored to each student’s own unique interests. The Program combines in-depth classroom learning with real world experiences, including paid internships, service learning projects, and applied research.

Within all Food Studies courses, the Program recognizes:

  • that we are working within a finite natural system, one with limited natural resources which face competing demands at an increasing rate;
  • that a sustainable food system is one that is steadfastly committed to social justice;
  • that climate change is a critical concern that will increasingly impact all aspects of the food system;
  • that public policy influences nearly all aspects of the food system; and
  • that fisheries are a central component of Maine’s food system.

These premises drive our Program goals:

  • USM students graduating with an Undergraduate Minor, Graduate Certificate or Master’s level coursework in Food Studies will have a solid interdisciplinary academic understanding of global, national, regional and local food systems, and with general professional skills essential to successful food-related work in the private, nonprofit and public sectors.
  • USM will develop and maintain strong collaborations with the local food-based business, nonprofit and public sectors to support positive social, economic and environmental impact.
  • USM students, faculty and staff will actively engage with the public and with policymakers to promote understanding of food-related issues, with an emphasis on environmental and community sustainability, and the interconnectedness of Maine’s land and ocean-based food systems.
  • USM students, faculty and staff will actively engage with the public and with policymakers on issues related to social and environmental justice in all aspects of food systems work, including food security.


Undergraduate Minor learning outcomes:

A. Competencies specific to Food Studies

  • Describe, critically analyze, and evaluate food systems at multiple levels, including trends and future potential;
  • Identify, question, and take personal responsibility for their individual roles and spheres of influence as participants within the local, regional, national and global food systems, including exercising a level of intercultural competence to be able to effectively engage the broader community on food-related concerns;
  • Apply conceptual, theoretical and technical food systems concepts and knowledge to real world circumstances and challenges, including designing, and/or evaluating solutions;
  • Identify, analyze, and evaluate contemporary and historical factors that affect food supply and food security, including environmental issues and issues of power and social justice (e.g., labor, economic, environmental, racial and gender equity);
  • Analyze, assess and critically evaluate the relationships between place, culture, and food systems; and
  • Develop and practice workforce skills and knowledge in a food-related context through an engaged learning experience; these include skills essential to leadership, entrepreneurial and business skills, policy analysis, advocacy and organizing, and oral and written communication.

B. Competencies central to but not specific to Food Studies

  • Exercise critical thinking skills, including analysis and evaluation;
  • Communicate clearly and effectively in both oral and written form;
  • Demonstrate fundamental scientific or technical literacy (this could be acquired within or outside the Program); and
  • Apply disciplinary knowledge from their major to their minor, and interdisciplinary knowledge from their minor to their major.


USM's Food Studies Undergraduate Minor - Launched January, 2017
Learn more about our Food Studies Minor here.

Food Studies Internship Program - Launching Fall, 2017
Diverse food-related internships will be available to Food Studies students beginning Fall, 2017. Internships are designed to provide real-world experience of and insight into food system-related professional roles through work in a community food-based business, organization or agency.  

Individual graduate-level Food Studies courses will be offered in Spring, 2018. These courses may be applied to the Graduate Certificate (see below). For more information, contact the Food Studies Program.

USM's Food Studies Graduate Certificate - Launching Fall, 2018