As food becomes a hot topic of discussion, Occidental continues to expand its curriculum to include new courses for exploring the role of food in politics, society, and culture.
At Occidental, there are many opportunities for students to learn about food both in and out of the classroom. Many different departments offer classes on the subject, ranging from the more scientific aspects of nutrition and diet, to the complex relationship between taste and hearing.
CSP 51, Culture of Food taught by David Kasunic, John Lang, and Carmel Levitan. What do you like to eat? Who prepares your food, and who is at the table eating it with you? This course takes on these and related questions, covering aesthetic, historical, social, and cognitive approaches to food studies. In addition to critically examining cross-cultural aspects of food culture, students engage with Los Angeles food culture.
CSP 55, Animal Ethics, taught by Clair Morrissey, evaluates why humans choose to eat some animals, while keeping others as pets and in zoos.
CSP 72, Restaurant Culture taught by John Lang. This first-year Cultural Studies Program (CSP) class seeks to examine restaurant culture, history, and employment in order to look critically at society and the individual.
KINE 312, Diet, Disease, and Exercise, taught by Eric Sternlicht. This science course looks at degenerative diseases and how diet and exercise can be used as treatment and prevention tools.
MUSC 385, Music and Food, taught by David Kasunic. This course explores the connection between food and music from the 16th century forward while considering many areas of academia in the discussion, including looking at 16th century 'table music,' the rise of the restaurant, and the idea of 'fine dining' in the United States.
SOC 240, Sociology of Food, taught by John Lang. This course looks to question the connections that the preparation, consumption, production, and distribution of food has with culture and society.
UEP 101, Environment and Society is an introductory course on environment and society, designed for students with an interest in urban and environmental issues. There are various topical areas covered in the course, including water issues (where our water comes from) and food system issues (where our food comes from and how it is manufactured and sold).
UEP 201, Environmental Health and Policy is designed to provide students with an understanding of the environmental factors impacting human and ecological health. The course covers various topics, including food safety, water access and equality, and the assessment of various risks (including exposure to dangerous chemicals used in food).
UEP 246/247 is a student-led class that teaches sustainable food practices in the FEAST Garden. Occidental students get the chance to learn practical cooking and gardening skills as well as hear guest speakers lecture on a variety of topics including the restaurant industry, nutrition, and community gardens.
UEP 295, Topics in Urban and Environmental Policy: Global Public Health is a course that examines major global public health problems and the range of responses from international organizations, transnational networks, and domestic and community-based institutions.The topics covered will include the sorts of strategies these actors have used in addressing health issues such as unsafe food and water, tobacco use, and others.
UEP Food Assessment is a year-long class that is currently being offered to students who are interested in community food justice. The class offers students an opportunity to work with LA CAUSA, a nonprofit that works to empower disenfranchised youth, and take on a leadership role while researching food access and food assessment methodology through the UEPI.
UEP 306, Food and the Environment, taught by multiple professors in the Urban and Environmental Policy department. This course on food and the environment explores the relationship between food and people and it's impact on cultural, environment, economics, health, and social issues on a local and global scale.
PSYC 490, Contemporary Topics Seminar. Eating: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, taught by Nancy Dess. This seminar covers eating from cells to society -- physiology, evolution, development, health, and sociocultural influences and consequences.
The classroom isn't the only space for students to explore how food impacts the world. For incoming first-years, the Multicutlrual Summer Institute (MSI) and the OxyEngage programs often provide students firsthand experience with food issues. In the summer of 2014, MSI students visited the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in order to explore Los Angeles and learn about its food-centered initiatives. Every year, first-year students may choose to go on the Social Justice and the City OxyEngage Experience, a comprehensive social justice trip that focuses on a few key issues that are close to Oxy's heart, including transportation, food, and environmental justice.