Food and Power, an online course

This spring I created an online version of my “Food and Power” undergraduate course at KAIST, which I’ve taught here in South Korea twice now, once in Spring 2015 and then in Spring 2016. I created the online version to share with other food studies scholars, students, and anyone interested in diving deeper into the politics of food, including the cultural and technological features of our modern foodways that shape our choices at the supermarket.

The course is a work in process and an offline class I continue to teach periodically, so I welcome your thoughts on ways to improve it or add new materials to it. My hope is that my peers and colleagues out there can get teaching ideas from it, or share their ideas with me. And that any of you “students” out there taking it can share your thoughts about food, science and society in the comments here, or in the comments on the YouTube page where they are posted.

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Oh, and please remember that I don’t get paid for this work. If you really like it, please repay me with a kind comment below, or even better, please help me to promote it with other people you know who might enjoy it. If there is enough interest, I might try to create more video content for it later.

All of these course materials can be found up-to-date on this page HERE.

Download the COURSE SYLLABUS here.

ONLINE LECTURES:
Because of time constraints, some classes are offered in video while others in PDF only. (If you express interest, and should time permit, I’ll upload more I promise!)

I. Introduction (Please be patient with me on these first videos… I was still getting used to the camera)
— pt. 1) Why food matters (now)? An intellectual and material history of food studies [VIDEO: 12 minutes]
— pt. 2) Introduction to two key course themes [VIDEO: 16 minutes]

—— Part 1: Ethical Eating ——
This first part of the course focuses on food as a moral and ethical subject, encouraging students to reframe personal ethical choices within broader collective and political contexts.

II. Hunger and Food Security
— pt. 1) Defining hunger as a problem [PDF of Lecture Slides(Please write me if you have any questions about the slides)
— pt. 2) History of policy debates [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 3) Food aid as a policy problem [PDF of Lecture Slides]

III. Gluttony and Nutritionism
— pt. 1) How do you know what you know…? [VIDEO: 12 minutes]
— pt. 2) Nutritionism, a history [VIDEO: 18 minutes]
— pt. 3) Obesity and Healthism [VIDEO: 19 minutes]

Ethical Food Consumerism

• SCREENING: Buffet (documentary): http://www.buffetmovie.com

Assignment 1: Food Diary Experiment [see BLOG POST]

—— Part 2: What is Edible?——
This second section of the course explores the way in which food as a liminal object between body and environment is routinely the subject of cultural and political debates about purity and risk.

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Me discussing the language games in English we use to mentally separate the messy, fleshy animal from the tasty, cultured food.

Food Taboos and Disgust [see BLOG POST]

IV. Mad Cow and Other Food Scares
— pt. 1) Meat and modernity [VIDEO: 22 minutes]
— pt. 2) The mad cow crisis in Britain [VIDEO: 18 minutes]
— pt. 3) Globalization of food scares [VIDEO: 19 minutes]

V. GM Foods
— pt. 1) Timeline of major events, players, and key concepts [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 2) Tech determinism v. ‘Luddites’… only two sides? [PDF of Lecture Slides]

Assignment 2: GM Food Profile

—— Part 3: Scale and Infrastructure ——
In this third section we explore ways to think about the role of scale in debates about food, looking at the tools and technologies of foodways and infrastructures that make daily food production, distribution, and consumption possible.

VI. Accounting for Scale
— pt. 1) Scaling up food chains [VIDEO: 22 minutes]
— pt. 2) Food processing and the packaging revolution [VIDEO: 19 minutes]

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An interactive class exercise I do with my students to brainstorm the many intermediaries in the food chain from farm to fork.

School Lunch Programs

VII. Industrial versus “Authentic” Foods
— pt. 1) Rage against the Food Machine [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 2) “Authenticity” versus better tasting through chemistry [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 3) (How) Does “natural” matter? [PDF of Lecture Slides]

Global Products, Local Contexts

Assignment 3: Food Prep Person Interview

—— Part 4: Food and Imagination ——
In this final section we consider the role of imagination in shaping food culture through institutions such as marketing and branding, or future predictions about where innovations are taking food.

VIII. Marketing and Taste
— pt. 1) Learning “good taste”[VIDEO: 14 minutes]
— pt. 2) Wine: Terroir versus Taste-makers [VIDEO: 12 minutes]
— pt. 3) Coffee and class [VIDEO: 16 minutes]

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My provocation to all wine snobs… what really distinguishes the liquid fruit bomb red wine from Coca-Cola? Is it better taste or just marketing?

Brands and Supermarkets

IX. Future Foods
— pt. 1) Past imaginations of future foods [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 2) Predictions: the present colonizing the future [PDF of Lecture Slides]
— pt. 3) Future foods today: What are your predictions? [PDF of Lecture Slides]

——Wrapping-up——
X. Conclusion: Lessons Beyond the Class(room) [PDF of Lecture Slides]

Final project: Final Assignment Guide

Subscribe to my YouTube page for more food studies or STS videos I’ve found useful for thinking about food.

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