Syllabus: Sociology of Food

This is part of our Campus Spotlight on Middlebury College.

 

In this course, we will learn about and apply core sociological perspectives to analyze dynamics of local, regional, national, and global agri-food systems development over the past several decades.

Week 1: Introduction to Sociology of Food and Agriculture

Monday: Class Introduction

  • Read the Syllabus!

Plan for Class: Class overview and introductions.

Assignment for Class: Be prepared to discuss why you chose to take this class and what you hope to get out of the course. Questions about the course and syllabus welcome.

 

Wednesday: The Sociology of Food and Agriculture, and Systems Mapping

  • Johnson, Allan. 2014. “The Forest, the Trees, and One Thing.” The Forest and the Trees: Sociology as Life, Practice and Promise. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. pp. 7-30.
  • Nesheim, Oria, and Yih, eds. 2015. “The U.S. Food and Agriculture System as a Complex Adaptive System.” Pp 233-242 in A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System. National Academies Pres.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on sociology, the sociology of food and agriculture, and food systems mapping.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #1 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

*Sign-up for discussion co-lead.

Week 2: Dramatic Changes in the Global Food System

Monday: Industrialization and the Community Capitals Framework

  • Hamilton, Neil. 1995. “Agriculture without Farmers?” Northern Illinois University Law Review. Pp1-25.
  • Hribar, Carrie. 2010. “Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities.” Pp 1-17.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on food systems industrialization and the Community Capitals Framework.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #2 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

 

Wednesday: Consolidation and the Community Capitals Framework

  • Philip Howard. 2009. “Visualizing Food System Concentration and Consolidation.” Southern Rural Sociology. 24(2): 87-110.
  • Douglas, Leah. “Consolidation is Eating Our Food Economy.” New American Weekly. Edition 122. Pp 1-5.
  • Flora and Bregendahl. 2013. “Collaborative Community-Supported Agriculture: Balancing Community Capitals for Producers and Consumers.” International Journal of Agriculture and Food. 19(3): 329-346.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on food systems consolidation and the Community Capitals Framework.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #3 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

 

Friday: Globalization, World-Systems, and the Green Revolution

  • Moore, Jason W. 2003. “The Modern World-System as environmental history? Ecology and the rise of capitalism.” Theory and Society. 32: 307-377.
  • Shiva, Vandana. 1991. “Science and Politics in the Green Revolution.” Pp 19-45 in Violence of the Green Revolution.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on globalization, World-Systems theory, and the “green revolution”.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #4 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

Week 3: Dramatic Changes in the Global Food System Continued

Monday: Student-Led Discussion #1

 

Wednesday: View Film Life and Debt

  • Carolan, Michael. 2011. “Cheap Food, Globalization, and Development.” Pp 12-25 in The Real Cost of Cheap Food.
  • Wise, Tim. 2009. “Agricultural Dumping Under NAFTA: Estimating the Costs of U.S. Agricultural Policies to Mexican Producers.” Global Development and Environment Institute.

Plan for Class: View film “Life and Debt”

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #5 Due.

 

Friday: View Film Life and Debt

  • No new readings

Plan for Class: Finish viewing film “Life and Debt”, followed by reading and film discussion.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #6 due based on film reflections/questions/comments.

Week 4: Dramatic Changes in the Global Food System Continued

Monday: Student-Led Discussion #2

 

Wednesday: GMOs, Seed Privatization, and Social Construction

  • Kinchy, Abby. Pages 1-10 only in Chapter 1 of Seeds, Science, and Struggle. MIT Press.
  • Aoki, Keith. “Grafting Plants into U.S. Patent Law: The Convergence of Technology and Law: 1930–2001 and Beyond.” Pp 27-58 in Seed Wars. Carolina Academic Press.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on GMOs, seed privatization, and social construction.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #7 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc

 

Friday: GMOs and Social Construction: GE Salmon Case Study

  • “Genetically Engineered Salmon—Coming soon to a supermarket near you?” Ocean Conservancy
  • Aqua Bounty Technologies, Inc. “Environmental Assessment for AquAdvantage Salmon.” Read selections: Introduction, p. 12-15; Jurisdictional and regulatory issues, p. 69-70; Risk assessment, p. 70-73; Conclusions, p. 74; Document preparation, p. 74.
  • Richardson, Jill. 2010. “Why is the FDA About to Ruber-Stamp GE Salmon.”
  • “Questions and Answers on FDA’s Approval of AquAdvantage Salmon.”

 

Plan for Class: Case study and discussion on GMOs and social construction vis-à-vis the GE Salmon case.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #8 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc

Week 5: Global and National Food Governance

Monday: How to Write!

  • No readings, be prepared to learn about writing!

Plan for Class: Lecture on Writing

Assignment for Class: Be prepared to learn and talk about core features of strong writing.

*Assignment #1 Handed Out: Policy Memo

 

Wednesday: Global Food and Agriculture Governance

  • Raustiala and Victor. 2004. “The Regime Complex for Plant Genetic Resources.” International Organization. 58: 277–309.
  • 2010. “Global Food Governance: The Committee on World Food Security.”

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on global food and agriculture governance.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #9 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

*Instructions on the final handed out

 

Friday: Food and Agriculture Governance and the Role of Corporations

  • Nestle, Marion. 2007. Ch 4, “Influencing Government” Pp 95-110 in Food Politics. University of California Press.
  • Nestle, Marion. 2007. Ch 5, “Co-Opting Nutrition Professionals” Pp 111-136 in Food Politics. University of California Press.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on food governance and the role of corporations.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #10 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

Week 6: Global Food Movements

Monday: Student-Led Discussion #3

*Opportunity for Midterm Feedback

 

Wednesday: Global Food and Agriculture Movements—Guest Lecturer: Molly Anderson

  • Kinchy, Abby. Pages 11-22 only in Chapter 1 of Seeds, Science, and Struggle. MIT Press.
  • Rosset, Peter. 2003. “Food Sovereignty: Global Rallying Cry of Farmer Movements.” Food First.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on global food and agriculture movements.

Assignment for Class: No reading reflection due, but we will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc

*Assignment #1 Due

 

Friday: Student-Led Discussion #4

*Assignment #2 Handed-Out: Op-Ed

Week 7: U.S. Food Movements

Monday: Framing Theory and Op-Ed Workshopping

  • Shurman and Munro. 2006. “Ideas, thinkers, and social networks: The process of grievance construction in the anti-genetic engineering movement.” Theory and Society. 35: 1–38.

OR

  • Morrell, Erica. 2015. “Unpacking Frame Resonance: Professional and Experiential Expertise in Intellectual Property Rights Contention.” Mobilization. 361-78.
  • Bring in Assignment #2, Op-Ed draft!

Plan for Class: We will discuss the readings and framing theory. Also, bring assignment #2, for Op-Ed workshopping.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #11 Due. Bring in draft Assignment #2, Op-Ed.

 

Wednesday: U.S. Food Movements, including organic, sustainable, and local food, and Political Opportunity Theory

  • 2010. “Introduction” and “Social Movements.” Pp 1-31 in Rebels for the Soil. Earthscan.
  • 1999. “A Social Movement to Change Agriculture.” Pp 1-6 in Changing the Way America Farms. University of Nebraska Press.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on U.S. food movements.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #12 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

*Midterm feedback recap provided

 

Friday: Guest Speaker—Anthony Naples, Starbird Fish, Vermont

  • No new readings.

Plan for Class: Guest speaker Anthony Naples.

Assignment for Class: Please be prepared to listen and ask questions, provide comments, etc.

*Assignment #2, Op-Ed, Due

Week 8: U.S. Food Movements

Monday: U.S. Food Movements, including food justice and security, and Resource Mobilization Theory

  • Holt-Gimenez and Wang. 2011. “Reform or Transformation?: The Pivotal Role of Food Justice in the U.S. Food Movement.” Race/Ethnicity. 5(1): 83-102.
  • Bradley and Herrera. 2016. “Decolonizing Food Justice: Naming, Resisting, and Researching Colonizing Forces in the Movement.”

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on U.S. food movements, continued.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #13 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

 

Wednesday: Urban Agriculture and Food Justice in Detroit

  • White, Monica M. 2011. “Sisters of the Soil: Urban Gardening as Resistance in Detroit.” Race/Ethnicity 5(1): 13-28.

Plan for Class: View film “Urban Roots”

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #14 Due.

 

Friday: Urban Agriculture and Food Justice in Detroit

  • No new readings

Plan for Class: Finish film “Urban Roots”

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #15 due based on film reflections/questions/comments.

*Assignment #3 Handed Out: Policy Memo

Week 9: U.S. Food Movements

Monday: Student-Led Discussion #5

 

Wednesday, April 19: Guest Speaker(s) from Migrant Justice OR Film Viewing

  • No new readings.

Plan for Class: Guest speaker Migrant Justice at 12:15 OR view film on Migrant Justice posted on course hub.

Assignment for Class: Please be prepared to listen and ask questions, provide comments, etc.

 

Friday: No Class, Spring Student Symposium

Week 10: Effects of Food Activism (primarily in the U.S.)

Monday: Policy Changes

  • Harper et al. 2009. “Food Policy Councils: Lessons Learned.” Food First.
  • 2010. “Do Government Policies Grow Local Food?” Choices.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion of recent food governance changes (especially in the U.S. context).

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #16 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

*Assignment #3 Due

 

Wednesday: Labels and Certification

  • Obach, Brian K. 2007. “Theoretical Interpretations of the Growth in Organic Agriculture: Agricultural Modernization or an Organic Treadmill?” Society & Natural Resources. 20(3): 229-244.
  • Hatanaka, Maki. 2014. “McSustainability and McJustice: Certification, Alternative Food and Agriculture, and Social Change.” Sustainability. 6: 8092-112.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion of labeling and certifications.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #17 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

 

Friday: Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Riches, Sam. 2017. “The Story of Heady Topper, America’s Obsession-Driving Double IPA.” Food and Wine.
  • John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia. 2013 “Conscious Capitalism and the Heroic Spirit of Business.” Pp 25-40 in Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion of CSR.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #18 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

*Sign-Up for Final Presentations

Week 11: Recent Food System Developments and the Future of Food

Monday: Student-Led Discussion #6

 

Wednesday: Ethical Consumption

  • Wilkins, J. L. 2005. “Eating Right Here: Moving from Consumer to Food Citizen.” Agriculture and Human Values. 22(3): 269-273
  • Lekakis, Eleftheria. 2013. Pp 1-13 in Coffee Activism and the Politics of Fair Trade and Ethical Consumption in the Global North.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion on ethical consumption.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #19 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

 

Friday: Climate Change, Migration, and Innovation

  • Schmidhuber and Tubiello. 2007. “Global food security under climate change.” 104(5): 19703-08.
  • 2007. “Climate change-induced migration and violent conflict.” Political Geography. 26: 656-73.

Plan for Class: Lecture and discussion of recent food systems challenges and opportunities—especially climate change, migration, and innovation.

Assignment for Class: Reading Reflection #20 Due. We will discuss the readings. Please be prepared with questions, comments, etc.

 

Week 12: Research Proposal Presentations

Monday: Research Proposal Presentations

Wednesday, May 10: Research Proposal Presentations

Friday, May 12: Research Proposal Presentations

 

Week 13: Course Wrap-Up

Monday: The Future of Food

Plan for Class: TBD depending on semester progress.

 

Wednesday: Final Due

Photo: Automatic irrigation system in the field of green lettuce | Shutterstock
Published on September 5, 2018.

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