Oregon State University Offers ‘Food in Culture and Social Justice’ Program

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Oregon State University is offering an undergraduate certificate and graduate minor for a program called “Food in Culture and Social Justice.” The programs are designed to help students “evaluate the role of food in the construction of identity.”

Oregon State University’s Food in Culture and Social Justice program seeks to “develop and apply critical thinking and critical writing competencies about food, culture and social justice,” according to the university’s website.

The university also claims that students will be able to “critically evaluate the role of food in the construction of identity (gender, ethnicity, religious, etc.)” upon achieving a certificate within the field of study.

Additionally, students will be able to “analyze how socially constructed differences, combined with unequal distribution of power across economic, social, and political institutions, result in discrimination in the food system,” according to the university.

Obtaining the undergraduate certificate requires 28 credits, according to the program overview, and includes courses with titles such as “Fat Studies” and “Social Inequality.”

Oregon State introduced the Fat Studies course last spring, which argues that “weightism” — the idea that overweight individuals face discrimination — is a civil rights issue.

The 400-level course examines “body weight, shape, and size as an area of human difference subject to privilege and discrimination that intersects with other systems of oppression based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and ability,” according to the university’s course catalog.

The course entitled Social Inequality focuses on the “causes and consequences of inequality in power, privilege, and prestige in human societies, with special attention to the United States.”

Another course called “Food Justice” examines contemporary food systems “from a cultural and social justice perspective.”

Last month, the university hosted an event called: “Feed the Resistance: A Conversation on Cooking as a Form of Political Resistance and Activism,” featuring author Julia Turshen, who spoke about her book, Feed the Resistance.

“Julia will talk about her work as a is a practical and proactive response to the blatant gender and racial discrimination that plagues the food industry,” claimed the university on its website, under the FCSJ program’s homepage.

It was not clear if Turshen’s Feed the Resistance will be a required textbook for course curriculum within the Food in Culture and Social Justice program.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

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