Winter 2020 Sustainable Food Systems Courses

Interested in taking a food systems course next semester? See below for a sampling of course offerings for winter semester 2020! 

**Note that you do not need to minor in Food & Environment or pursue a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems to enroll in these courses**


ALA 264 Much Depends on Dinner: Introduction to Food Studies

MoWe 4:00PM – 5:30PM | 3 credits | This seminar is designed to introduce students to some of the major issues in food studies today. We’ll discuss arguments for and against local and organic production, vegetarianism, and GMOs. We’ll explore the causes and consequences of obesity and what (if anything) should be done about it. We’ll visit the archives to learn more about how people ate in the past. And we’ll discuss the relationship between labor conditions in the food industry and food insecurity in the U.S.

ANTHRARC 296 – Local Food Producers

MoWe 2:30PM – 4:00PM | 3 credits | The Local Food Producers course explores the origins of the food we eat from the earliest farmers to the local food movement. We use an anthropological perspective to examine the history of food production and contemporary issues facing local food producers.

ASIAN 258 Food and Drink of Asia

MoWe 2:30PM – 4:00PM | 4 credits | This class examines the past and present of Asian food and drink. It begins with an examination of the foods and drinks that have united various peoples within Asia, including tea, pancakes, flatbreads, dumplings, soy products, cheese, and noodles. It then moves to foods and drinks that have historically divided peoples along ethnic, class, and religious lines: dog meat, pork, beef, and MSG. The final part of the class investigates foods that define people as members of national or ethnic groups: dim sum, curry, sushi, pad Thai, and spring rolls.

BIOLOGY 102 Practical Botany

MoFr 12:00PM – 1:00PM | 4 credits | BIOLOGY 102 is an introductory course about plants and how they are used by people. Buses take students to the Botanical Gardens for lab and back to main campus afterwards (about 15 minutes each way). In the lab, each student has his/her own personal space in a greenhouse to grow plants that can be taken home during the term.

CLARCH 382 Food in the Ancient World

MoWe 1:00PM – 2:30PM | 3 credits | The course deals with the production, processing and consumption of food in the ancient Mediterranean world. Food is considered in its widest significance, as both biological and cultural phenomenon. The course begins exploring various sources of evidence, including direct archaeological evidence of food remains and preparation, analysis of stomach content in mummies and other well-preserved bodies, chemical analysis in pottery and human skeletons, relevant Latin and Greek texts and artistic representations. The role of food in relation to socio-cultural and economic developments is discussed by quickly surveying food procurement by hunter-gatherers, the introduction of cooking and the shift to food production in the Neolithic, and, finally, food redistribution in complex societies. The Greek and Roman world are the core of the course, exploring foodways across social, religious, economic contexts.

EARTH 154 Ocean Resources

MoWe 1:00PM – 2:30PM | 3 credits | This course focuses on resources from the ocean and how these are used by and influenced by humans. Two general subject areas are covered: minerals and energy from the oceans, and food resources in the oceans.

ENVIRON 111 Global Change: The Sustainability Challenge

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:30PM | 4 credits | Global environmental change encompasses the rapid, interconnected changes now occurring in the Earth system — its climate, human population, resources, and ecosystems. Global Change II — Human Impacts guides students in learning about our natural world and the role of human activities in shaping and changing the environment. Global Change II is an interdisciplinary, team-taught and web-supported introduction to the human dimensions of global change.

ENVIRON 262, EARTH 262 Plants and People

MoWe 10:00AM – 11:30AM | 3 credits | This course examines the relationship between plants, people, and the environment; focusing on economically important plants. Plants are important for survival, aesthetic, and environmental purposes and have had significant impacts on human history, society, and environment. Today plants are critical for our future. Topics include foods, fibers, drugs, and ornamentals.

ENVIRON 324 – Intro to Water Law and Policy

TuTh 11:30AM – 1:00PM | 3 credits | The course explores how societal values, scientific knowledge, and political priorities inform U.S. water law and policy. How is it possible, living next to the largest surface freshwater system in the world, that we are facing water shortages? What are the threats to our nation’s water? This course will search for the answers to these and related questions by examining the cultural, historical and political roots of U.S. water law and policy. In particular, we will look at water law and policy governing riparian states, prior appropriation states, tribal lands and groundwater. In addition, the course will examine the role of population growth, energy and climate change in formulating current and future water policy. In order to understand the underlying motives and cultural values influencing the multiple stakeholders, policy makers and regulators, we will look at a variety of materials ranging from art, media and literature to key statutes, legal opinions and reports. Students will develop the skills to identify the historical precedents and values informing ongoing water debates and problems, analyze key statutes and opinions, evaluate solutions, and present a position.

ENVIRON 376 – Environmental Ethics- Living Well with Nature

TuTh 10:00AM – 11:30AM | 3 credits | The fact that humanity’s relationship to nature has gone awry is rarely disputed, but the proposed cures are manifold. How should humans value the non-human world? Do humans have ethical duties to entities other than fellow humans? This course investigates a variety of proposed answers that claim to better situate humans with respect to nature. Such systems include variations on anthropocentrism, including a number of e-centric cousins (ecocentrism, biocentrism, zoocentrism, etc.) as well as movements such as deep ecology and ecofeminism. Current questions and controversies will be used to highlight the alternative visions that these various philosophies offer. Also considered will be the components of personal and communal ethics that lead to changes in praxis.

ENVIRON 390 – Environmental Justice & Environmental Activism

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:30PM | 3 credits | This course defines environmental activism as a social movement designed to affect positive and sustainable environmental change. We will articulate an overarching set of values to which people can respond, as well as a shared set of symbols, heroes, slogans, and other cultural referents.

MOVESCI 241 – Exercise, Nutrition and Weight Control

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:30PM | 3 credits | Study of body mass regulation including the understanding of food, digestion, metabolism and different intervention strategies such as a diet and exercise. Students learn assessment and prescription principles and techniques.

RCIDIV 350 – Corn in East Quad! An Experimental Learning Mini-Course

We11:30-1:00PM | 1 credit | Experience the excitement of planning your own garden with hands-on training and education steeped in the annual tradition of vegetable production. From crop planning to season extension, what are the basics of growing your own food and how can this patient and reflective approach inform our own mechanisms for growth? The gardens at East Quad and Cultivating Community provide an on-campus habitat to protect the biodiversity of native pollinators and serve as a backdrop for student learning. Join RC faculty member, Virginia Murphy and UM Sustainable Dining Manager, Alex Bryan in this one-credit mini course where we will focus on the best practices of sustainable urban farming. Students will choose seeds for the summer vegetable production at the gardens, and propagate them at the Campus Farm. Students will earn credit through short reading assignments and active class discussion on the readings and news relevant to the material of the course, active involvement in garden activity, and the required Saturday planting at the Campus Farm. This is a half-semester course that requires full attendance and active involvement for credit. Class size is limited. One class will take place on a Saturday, date TBD.

RCNSCI 301 – Alternative futures in the Michigan food system

TuTh 1:00PM – 2:30PM | 3 credits | An inquiry-based analysis of alternative future food systems in the state of Michigan. We will compare industrial methods of food production with small-scale ecological practices in terms of the amount of food grown, the environmental impacts, and health impacts. The class will interact with a community organization that is studying the impacts of concentrated livestock farms and their environmental and social impacts. Students will develop research projects investigating some aspect of an alternative food system in Michigan, based on data analysis from the state and published studies.

SPANISH 232-002, 232-003 – The Hispanic World Through Food

MoTuThFr 8:00AM – 9:00AM | 4 credits

UC 154 – Should We Eat Meat?

MoWe 1:00PM – 2:30PM | 3 credits | This first-year seminar is designed to explore three facets of the argument for vegetarianism: sustainability, health, and animal welfare. Is vegetarianism better for the environment? How much better? Would going vegetarian or vegan make most people healthier or thinner? Are there any drawbacks, nutritionally? What we know about conditions for animals in the food industry, and how would a transition to eating less meat and more plants affect rodents, birds, and downstream aquatic life? How can we apply what we’ve learned to improving the food served by UM Dining Services? A hands-on, interdisciplinary approach to multi-dimensional issue of eating meat.



NUTR 510 – Nutrition in the Life Cycle

MoWe 9:00AM – 10:00AM | 3 credits | In this course, you will learn about nutrition during critical stages of the life cycle from the time individuals are in the womb during pregnancy to when they become older adults. The nutritional needs for normal growth and development, as well as the consequences of under- or over-nutrition at critical life stages and what major interventions have been implemented to address these consequences will be examined. We will also discuss how lifestyle factors and demographics play a role in meeting nutritional requirements at various life stages.

NUTR 540 – Maternal and Childhood Nutrition

Fr 8:30AM – 10:30AM | 2 credits | This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the nutritional requirements of pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Main topics include: physiologic and metabolic adaptations of pregnancy and lactation, maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, composition of human milk and formula, feeding practices of infants and toddlers, and the nutrient requirements of infants, children, and adolescents. At the conclusion of this course, students will have gained a sufficient foundation in maternal and child nutrition to better understand the relevant scientific literature. Didactic lectures and guest presentations accompanied by class discussions will provide a breadth of maternal and child nutrition knowledge.

NUTR 633 – Evaluation of Global Nutrition Programs

TuTh 10:00AM – 11:30AM | 3 credits | This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the principles of program evaluation with an emphasis on global public health nutrition programs implemented in the Global South aimed at addressing a wide range of health and nutrition problems primarily arising from economic disparities. The course will create a space for discussion and practice in which knowledge can be applied to current global health issues through research and critical analysis. Course lectures and readings will give special attention to global nutrition programs.