Interdisciplinary Food Studies: History, Politics, and Technology

Course Overview

Common to today’s various efforts for sustainable agriculture is an awareness of the downsides to the increasing space between producer and consumers. That space has been growing since the 1800s and has in part been shaped by technological developments. This course will help students understand how the modern industrial system was built so that they might engineer solutions to overcome the problems of that system. To achieve this, the course will discuss the historical, political, and cultural contexts of industrial and non-industrial food systems with particular attention to the current local food movement in central Virginia. It is a community engagement course examining sustainable agriculture and its associated elements—organic farming and the local food movement—that draws from the conceptual tools of STS. The culminating experience for students is a final web-based project that places an element of the local food system into its historical and technological context.

Those final projects will be presented to community members at UVA’s Morven Farm. The course is part of the Morven Summer Institute, affiliated with the UVA Food Collaborative, and taught with reference to Morven and the non-profit Local Food Hub. It is discussion intensive and hands-on, with contribution to the operation of the Morven Kitchen Garden and guest speakers from the Charlottesville local food community.