Food Studies Program

Overview

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!

Food Studies students' field trip to Asmara

Food Studies students on a field trip to Asmara, Portland, ME, Fall 2017; photo by Greta Rybus

 

Food Studies is the interdisciplinary study of the social, economic, political, and environmental factors that affect our food system. From farm to table, and table to mouth, food production and consumption is a lynchpin for economic systems and people’s daily life and health. Food is also central to culture – our identities, the way we connect socially, and how families and communities function. The USM Food Studies Program joins a nationwide movement to elevate the study of food systems, to critically evaluate key food-related issues including food insecurity, environmental sustainability, and racial and labor justice, and develop in its students applicable real world skills ranging from hospitality and entrepreneurship to social justice policy and activism. Through active mentorship, engaged learning both in the classroom and the community, powerful collaborations with food system activists, business people and professionals, and well placed internships, USM Food Studies students are well prepared for food-related careers in the business, non-profit/community, and government sectors.

 

Why USM Food Studies?

  • Study with Great Faculty. USM Food Studies Faculty are successful food studies scholars, dedicated to innovative and welcoming classroom instruction that features experiential learning and applied research, and are well connected to leaders in the Maine, New England and national food system movements. Our faculty introduce students to highly engaged instruction in a wide range of key food studies topics.

  • Robust Paid Internships with Leading Maine Food Organizations and Businesses. The USM Food Studies Program has built strong collaborations with leaders in the Maine food system, including innovative entrepreneurs, anti-hunger professionals and activists, sustainable farming practitioners and experts, and leading policy makers. Food Studies students have access to a wide array of placements that will jump start their careers in the world of food.

  • Become a Systems Thinker with Practical Skills. USM Food Studies prepares students with a strong foundation in the economics, environmental impact, sociology, politics and policy of food systems, studying issues deeply relevant to the region, from sustainability to social justice. Through classes featuring research and service learning projects, and career tracks and internships, USM students match big picture understanding with specific food-related career skills.

  • Round Out Your USM Education. Through our undergraduate minor and graduate coursework, students in a variety of majors and programs can complement their existing course of study with the benefits of the USM Food Studies Program. If you are in a career-focused major like nursing or business, take advantage of Food Studies’ liberal arts instruction in the field that complements your chosen major and personal interests in food. If you are a liberal arts major, extend your knowledge to the world of food systems and while gaining access to career training and placement in career building internships. 

 

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, non-profit and public sectors.

  • USM will develop and maintain strong collaborations with the local food-based business, non-profit 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.

 

Learn more about what Food Studies has to offer: