A new master’s program focused on the cultural, environmental, and policy aspects of food will be offered at IU-Bloomington this fall. The new two-year master’s degree in food studies will be offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, according to an IU press release.
The food studies field covers the different cultural, policy, sustainability and nutritional aspects of food, according to an IU press release.
“Food studies just isn’t just about food, it's about all the things connected to it; labor, environment, policy, racial inequality and looking at the intersectional aspects of food, not just culinary practices,” said professor Brian Gilley, program coordinator for the food studies master’s program.
A key part of the program is it’s individuality and range of coursework, Gilley said. This could mean taking a course on commodities markets through the Kelley School of Business or another course from an archaeology professor on the history of cookware, Gilley said.
“We want the students to have the freedom to create a degree that works for what they want to do,” Gilley said.
Food studies has grown significantly over the past 20 years in popularity as a field of study and as something people think about. People in the U.S. became more aware of what went into their food, in part because of the popularity of the Food Network, Gilley said. After the development of the field in the last 2 decades, it made sense to offer this new program now.
“We can now offer what we’ve learned to a new generation of students who want to go out and apply knowledge as opposed to generating knowledge for knowledge's sake,” Gilley said.
The program will be offered through the anthropology and geography departments of the College of Arts and Sciences. Students will also select and participate in an internship and capstone project, according to the press release. The program is open to students from any undergraduate degree.
“Students in the program can shape their internships so that they’re solving a problem but also getting the skills they need for the area they want to work,” Gilley said.
Professor Andrea Wiley, Chair of the Department of Anthropology, said the decision to offer the program came from a request to offer a graduate program that takes a more holistic approach to food than nutrition or other related areas.
“We had a lot of inquiries from people interested in food studies but not interested in a Ph.D.,” Wiley said.
While students will be primarily taking courses in the anthropology and geography departments, Wiley said in creating the program, the faculty want to tailor the program to students' interests.
Students can range their focus on problems like food insecurity in Monroe County or on international food systems, Wiley said. Students in this master’s program can apply their knowledge to any number of jobs, such as policy work, farming and hospitality.
The first students will begin the program this fall. The application for the program is currently available on the anthropology department’s website, and is due April 1. Gilley said about 15 to 20 students per year will be admitted to the program.