Food Studies at New York University is one of the first master’s degree programs in the United States devoted to food scholarship. In doing so, this department in 1996 formalized an emerging field as a state-accredited academic entity.
Food Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of food as a bio-cultural system focused on the urban environment. Employing approaches from the humanities and the social sciences, the MA in Food Studies prepares students to analyze the current American food system, its global connections, and local alternatives. Our location in a department that includes Nutrition and Public Health affords us a privileged optic into food in the modern biomedical system, allowing us to interrogate the intersection between expertise and everyday experience, illness, wellness and the politics of professions. Students learn the ways in which food cultures and food systems are implicated in larger issues of public health and nutrition.
Food Studies emphasizes the ways individuals, communities, and societies relate to and represent food within a spatial, cultural and historical context. Food studies examines the political, economic, and geographic framework of food production, while attending equally to the study of consumption, including gastronomy, and media portrayals of chefs and cuisines, along with attention to problems that follow consumption, the re-making of bodies, accumulation of waste, and burdens of externalizing costs. Cities at the center of flows of people, commodities, produce, and media products, are the prime locus of our investigations.
In 2007, we broadened Food Studies by introducing Food Systems, a new graduate concentration within the Food Studies program, which specifically focuses on issues related to food production. This new concentration aligns an academic discussion of economic, political, agricultural, and global concerns with larger contemporary arguments beyond the academy. Our uniquely urban approach, engages with the New York City food systems for applied and theoretical research.
The Food Studies M.A. program includes two areas of concentration.
Food Culture (FOOD-CUL) examines the social, economic, cultural, and psychological factors that have influenced food consumption practices and patterns in the past and present. Students research historical, sociological and anthropological aspects of food.
Food Systems (FOOD-SYS) – explores food systems, tracing commodities and agricultural concerns from production through consumption; it emphasizes international, national, and local food systems where students explore environmental, ethical, and economic factors in food production and distribution.
The overall program includes 40 credits of core, specialization, practical experience, and research courses, and
• Focuses studies in one of two areas of concentration--food culture and food systems.
• Challenges students with core, specialization, and elective courses offered by the department and by New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Stern School of Business; Wagner School of Public Service, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, or Tisch School of the Arts
• Broadens work experience. We help students locate internships in a vast array of potential employment sites, and place them in positions where they can develop new skills and gain access to potential employers.
• Gives access to food production companies, non-profit food organizations, publishers, public relations and marketing firms, magazines, food distributors, food producers and educational institutions, as well as to the food professionals who work in them and enrich the program by serving as adjunct faculty and guest lecturers.
• Emphasizes development of critical thinking and research skills that help students analyze and solve problems that may be encountered in professional work.
• Offers experiential learning courses in global, domestic and local venues.
The MA in Food Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to holistically study food from intellectual and academic points of view, employing twin lenses of culture and systems. The mission of the program is to examine the ways individuals, communities, and societies relate to food within a cultural and historical context.
Using food as a “lens” through which to view, explore, analyze, and interpret society in the present as well as in the past, the program covers topics such as foodways, gastronomy, and culinary history as well as historical, cultural, political, economic, and geographic examinations of food production and consumption and post-consumption.
Student Learning Objectives
- Students in the Food Culture concentration will examine and analyze the social, economic, cultural, and psychological factors that have influenced food consumption practices and patterns in the past and present.
- Students in the Food Systems concentration identify and critique food systems, tracing commodities and agricultural concerns from production through consumption. They will also compare and contrast international, national, and local food systems as well as environmental, ethical, and economic factors in food production and distribution.
- All students will develop and apply interdisciplinary perspectives, critical thinking and research skills to analyze and solve problems that may be encountered in professional work.