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Food Studies
Phone: (209) 946-2434

Polly Adema, Director of Food Studies

Programs Offered

Master of Arts in Food Studies

University of the Pacific offers a Master of Arts Degree in Food Studies at its San Francisco campus and online, pending WSCUC approval.  Course offerings illustrate the multidisciplinary nature of the program including anthropology, history, sociology, literature, writing, food policy, advocacy, and more. Course work focuses on developing mastery in research and writing, and in critical thinking and problem solving while achieving fluency in a range of food-related topics. The successful student will develop exceptional proficiency in evaluating the economic, environmental, cultural, historical, political, and social forces shaping and shaped by the modern food system.

This multidisciplinary program is designed to train students to master skills necessary for success in food-related professions.  Research, presentation, and writing skills developed during students’ studies will equip them for careers across corporate and nonprofit sectors of the food industry including marketing, advertising, research and development, policy, advocacy work, food writing, and for advanced work in academia.

The program consists of 32 credits of course work, including a thesis or a non-thesis (exam) option.  Most classes are 4 credits; special courses may be 2-4 credits. All students must take FOOD 201, Introduction to Food Studies, and three other courses from the foundational core courses numbered 202-208, plus four electives of the students' choosing.  Full-time students take two classes per semester and can complete the degree in four semesters; part-time students may take one or two classes per semester and can complete the program over a maximum of six years.  There is no minimum course load required to remain in the program, but registration and matriculation fees will apply every semester to maintain active status.  

Grade Point Requirements

Candidates for a graduate degree must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.  No grade below a B- (2.7) will be counted towards the degree.

Thesis and Non Thesis Options

In the thesis option (Plan A), students take the core FOOD 201 during the first year. Upon successful completion of the thesis prerequisite FOOD 208, Research Methods, students complete their thesis projects under the supervision of a faculty member in FOOD 299. That faculty member and at least one other faculty will evaluate the written thesis.

In the non-thesis option (Plan B), students take the core FOOD 201 during the first year. All students are strongly encouraged to take Food 208 but it is not required for those pursuing the non-thesis option. Plan B students do not take Food 299. Plan B students complete the degree requirements by successfully passing a comprehensive examination. Program faculty, working with the program director, contribute to the substance and evaluation of the exam. Each examination, which may include both oral and written components, will be comprehensive and specially tailored to reflect the courses taken by each individual student.  A committee of two faculty will oversee the exams.

Admission Requirements

The program enthusiastically welcomes students from a broad range of undergraduate majors and backgrounds including business, health sciences, law, the social sciences, and humanities.  Program acceptance is competitive and is based on committee review of each applicant’s grade point average, a personal statement, resume, and three letters of recommendation from faculty members or employers familiar with the applicant's work.  Applicants will have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree with a GPA of at least 3.0.  In exceptional cases, students with a 2.65-2.99 cumulative GPA may be considered for conditional admission.

Master of Arts in Food Studies

Students must complete a minimum of 32 units with a Pacific cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in order to earn the master of arts degree in food studies.

FOOD 201Introduction to Food Studies4
Select three of the following:12
History of Food
Food Writing
Anthropology of Food
Food and the Environment
Sociology of Food
Food, Nutrition and Human Health
Research Methods in Food Studies
FOOD Electives (4 additional courses)16
Select one of the following options:
Thesis Option Plan A
Non-Thesis Option Plan B
Written comprehensive examination
Oral comprehensive examination

Food Studies Courses

FOOD 201. Introduction to Food Studies. 4 Units.

This course provides an overview of the state of the field from a multidisciplinary perspective. The course examines production, distribution, consumption patterns, ways that scholars address these topics, research methodologies, and considers the practical applications of food studies to the job market.

FOOD 202. History of Food. 4 Units.

This course makes a detailed examination of the importance of food as a catalyst in history. This course will focus on interpreting primary documents and making a critical assessment of secondary literature. It covers from the period from human evolution and the Neolithic Revolution to the present.

FOOD 203. Food Writing. 4 Units.

This is a practical course designed to hone student’s writing skills, pitch food writing to a variety of markets and address important issues for many different audiences, academic and popular. This is an intensive writing workshop.

FOOD 204. Anthropology of Food. 4 Units.

This course examines the diversity of global food ways from biocultural and cross-cultural perspectives. It offers an analysis of the important role of food production, preparation, and eating in different cultures as well as the symbolic ritual importance of food.

FOOD 205. Food and the Environment. 4 Units.

This course examines the causes of contemporary agriculture-food-population-environmental problems, with emphasis on analyzing how human population growth and social and environmental change have dramatically changed decision contexts, not only for small scale tradition based agriculture but also for modern agriculture. The class applies insights from demography, anthropology, political ecology to propose alternative solutions that promote a balance between agriculture, food, population, and the environment.

FOOD 206. Sociology of Food. 4 Units.

This course offers an exploration of the production, distribution and consumption of food from a sociological perspective with emphases on political economy, culture, labor inequalities and movements for food system reform.

FOOD 207. Food, Nutrition and Human Health. 4 Units.

This course analyzes how approaches to health and nutrition have shifted over time and across different cultures. This course will also explore the roles of food and nutrition science is shaping dietary trends and patterns.

FOOD 208. Research Methods in Food Studies. 4 Units.

This course covers basic techniques for collecting, interpreting and analyzing qualitative data in the field of food studies. The class examines the theoretical approaches to various types of qualitative research as well as the practical techniques of data collection, such as working with primary documents, identifying key informants, selecting respondents, collecting field notes, analyzing data, writing and presenting findings to academic and non-academic audiences. Prerequisite: FOOD 201 with a “C-“ or better.

FOOD 231. Food and Literature. 4 Units.

This course will provide an introduction to literary food studies and trace the development of key themes within food literature over the past two centuries, ranging from the role of meat in American society to the ways in which eating and cooking nourish the imagination. We’ll begin by reading Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing before moving onto such literary clasics as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Physiology of Taste, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, M. F. K. Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me, The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book and Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats. In addition, we’ll explore the historical development of nonfiction food writing genres, including cookbooks, culinary memoir, and gastronomic essays. The course assignments will focus on improving writing skills, oral communication, and literary analyses.

FOOD 232. Local Food History: A Case Study of San Francisco. 4 Units.

In this course we will cover the history of food in the San Francisco Bay Area, tracing how succeeding waves of immigrants adapted their cuisines to a rich new environment. Form the Spanish mission period through Chez Panisse and the California Cuisine movement, we will examine changing foodways as well as the marketing of particular dishes and restaurants to locals and to visitors from around the world. Students will visit culinary sites important to the history of the city, such as the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown, the Cinderella Russian Bakery in Inner Richmond, and the Anchor Brewery on Potrero Hill. Readings include Jennifer Lee’s The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Matthew Booker’s Down By The Bay: San Francisco’s History Between the Tides, and Sally Fairfax’s California Cuisine and Just Food. You will also get trained in oral history methods and in writing local food history. After reading Carol Kammen’s On Doing Local History, weekly assignments will lead you, step by step, through the research and writing stages of a twelve-page research paper about a specific topic in San Francisco food history. Students will work with both primary and secondary materials relating to their topic, and are encouraged to incorporate oral history research where appropriate.

FOOD 234. Food Justice. 4 Units.

This course investigates the roles of intersecting hierarchies including race, class, gender, national status and sexuality in shaping the production, distribution and consumption of food. Through readings, case studies and research, we examine community-based and policy responses to these inequalities. This course includes field trips to and/or guest speakers from local food justice organizations.

FOOD 235. The Business of Food. 4 Units.

This class will provide a multisectoral overview of both prevailing and emerging structures and dynamics of the food industry. We will explore the food value chain from field to fork, employing the frameworks of strategic business analysis, market failure, and the influences of policy and the regulatory environment. Students will use these frameworks to evaluate and assess business models, products, and activities of established “Big Food” players and new market entrants. The class includes evaluation of current topics and non-market actors shaping the food industry to explore how cultural and social behaviors affect food consumption, as well as industry organization, the behavior and activities of industry participants. Also included will be a survey of basic concepts related to product development, pricing, and marketing.

FOOD 287. Graduate Internship. 1-4 Units.

FOOD 287A. Graduate Internship. 1-4 Units.

FOOD 291. Independent Study. 1-4 Units.

FOOD 293. Special Topics. 1-4 Units.

FOOD 297. Graduate Research. 1-4 Units.

FOOD 299. Thesis. 4 Units.

Analysis of Context

  • Analyze the social, economic, and cultural factors that have influenced the development, production, distribution, and consumption of food.

Critique of Impact of Food

  • Critique the effects of development, production distribution and consumption of food on human health, the environment, and social life.

Research Skills

  • Apply research skills to problems that may be encountered in professional life.

Writing Skills

  • Demonstrate writing skills appropriate to food-centered research.

Synthesis and Problem Solving

  • Synthesize knowledge and skills to address problems, with attention to ethical, aesthetic, and cultural dimensions of problem.