Food Environments, Health, and Social Justice
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Department: Food Studies
Course Number: NFDS 3220
Course Format: Lecture
Permission Required: No
With obesity and diabetes rising at alarming rates, an interdisciplinary academic field has emerged to rethink the role of the environment in shaping our food use patterns and health. In this class, our approach is framed by the ideas and activities of the environmental justice movement, which guide a critical reading of the literature on food environments and the sociospatial distribution of nutritional resources. We conceptualize systems of food production and consumption in environmental terms, such as food deserts and platescapes, and examine how modes of food production and distribution are connected to the nutritional landscapes of cities. We consider research methods to gain an understanding of these environments and health effects and explore strategies to promote effective change in resource distribution. Students use Internet-based mapping tools to conduct field research on their own food environments. Written assignments include responses to major themes in the literature, reviews of relevant films, and letters to policymakers.