Harvard College Food Courses

Are you curious about the molecular make-up of food or cross-cultural cuisine differences? Are you concerned about the big business behind the food you eat? Do you just want to know more about what goes on your plate?

Consider exploring these interests while also getting course credit! The Food Literacy Project has put together a list of classes available to undergraduates that have a strong focus on food, nutrition, and agriculture.

Romancing the Kitchen: Food Culture across the Romance Languages
Freshmen Seminar 38z
Elvira DiFabio
This course offers a taste (sapore) of the knowledge (sapere) that is found in the language and culture the Romance languages, in particular, French, Italian, Spanish, infused by unique flavors of Portuguese and Catalan as well. Consumption of food and the consumption of texts, eating language and culture, the Romance kitchen as a liminal space between language and culture, body and spirit, the living and the deceased.
The Roman Dinner Party (Proseminar)
History of Art and Architecture 137p
Ruth Bielfeldt
The banquet is the key event of Roman elite society. It involved not only luxurious and well staged food and wine, but proper behavior, a decent setting, luxury furniture, entertainment and enchantment. The seminar discusses visual, archaeological and literary evidence to explore the sensual culture of the Roman dinner party – oscillating between strict social rules, intellectual table talks, the theatrical orchestration of high cuisine, revelry, eroticism and bodily excess.
Ecology and Land-Use Planning
ESPP 90c
Richard T. T. Forman
Investigation of how local and regional human activities such as housing, agriculture, water supply, and natural resource use can be arranged in the landscape so that environmental processes are not disrupted and ecosystems are maintained for the long term. The focus is on learning and applying spatial and ecological principles to land-use planning with the intention of regional biodiversity conservation, maintenance of water quality, and addressing other environmental issues.
Tuesdays  2- 5:15pm
Website: http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/3792
The Language of Art, Music, Food II
Italian 36
Elvira Guida DiFabio
Continuing with the focus on Italian society begun in Italian 35, this course turns to food culture. Aims at advancing students’ proficiency in speaking, reading and writing through vocabulary development and extension of control of higher-level syntactical patterns. Practice through class presentations, compositions, and discussions.
Dates to be arranged
Website: http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/5223
Food Policy and Agribusiness
Harvard Kennedy School:
Ray Goldberg
This course deals with public and private management of an industry sector that encompasses half the world’s labor force, half the world’s assets, and 40% of consumer purchases. The public policy issues of economic development, trade, nutrition, food safety, the environment, maintaining limited natural resources, protecting plant and animal diversity, intellectual property, genetics, and social and economic priorities will all be developed in case study format. Positioning public agencies and private firms within the developed and developing economies will be an integral part of the course. Wherever possible, the CEO or leading government official involved will be a guest at the class.
Mondays/Wednesdays 11:40am-1pm, Belfer- Land Room
Website: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/degrees/teaching-courses/course-listing/bgp-204m
Primate Ecology and Evolution
Human Evolutionary Biology 1435
Zarin Pearl Machanda, John C. Barry, and David Pilbeam

The course will explore how primates have evolved and adapted to their environments with particular attention given to critical drivers of these adaptations such as food, predation and sexual selection. We will examine both living primates and their fossil ancestors and discuss the different temporal perspectives of “ecological time” and “paleontological time”. Topics will include adaptations for food harvesting and processing, life history strategies, sexual dimorphism, locomotion, and grouping patterns.
Tuesdays/Thursdays 10-11:30am
Website: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k75954
Nutrition and Global Health
Science of Living Systems 19
Christopher P. Duggan, Clifford W. Lo, and Wafaie W. Fawzi

This course will introduce students to nutrition and global health problems through exploration of demographic, epidemiological, biological, social, political, and economic determinants of nutritional status. Emphasis will be placed on the role of nutritional status and dietary intake, both as a determinant and as a consequence, of these health problems. Students will be encouraged to think critically about the major challenges to improve nutrition and health at a global level, with a focus on nutrition and infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and chronic diseases. Nutritional assessment, study design, and efficacy of nutrition interventions, will be explored in detail.

Molecular Basis for Nutritional & Metabolic Diseases
BPH 301qc
Students have an opportunity to review and analyze key papers that provide physiological and molecular evidence that bears on a topic of current interest in human nutrition and related disorders. Additionally, students learn skills necessary for critical thinking, and oral and written presentations.
The Science of Human Nutrition 
BPH 222
Frank M. Sacks, Clifford Lo, and members of the Department

A review of the biochemistry of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals in the context of human disease. Contemporary topics are emphasized. Particular emphasis given to current knowledge of the mechanisms that may explain the role of diet in the causation and/or prevention of ischemic heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cancer. Recommended dietary intakes of selected nutrients are discussed in order to understand their limitations.
Laboratory Methods in Primate and Human Nutrition 
Human Evolutionary Biology 3350
Independent laboratory study in the biochemical analysis of plant and animal foods, and of human and animal digestive physiology and feeding behavior.

Website: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k16845&pageid=icb.page80031&pageContentId=icb.pagecontent189795&view=choose_method&login=yes&viewParam_course_instance_id=279129

And for future planning- here’s what was given last fall…………….
FALL 2010
Ethnographies of Food
Anthropology 2712
Ted Bestor

We will discuss the “food turn” in anthropology through reading contemporary (and classic) ethnographies of food in contexts of production, distribution, social exchange, gender, and science. Note: Undergraduates encouraged to participate. Instructor’s permission required.
Thursdays 3-5pm, William James Hall 401
Website: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k71937
You Are What You Eat
Freshmen Seminar 22g
Karen Michels
What does food do to our bodies? What does a healthy diet entail? What is known about the role of nutrition in preventing or curing disease? Explores and critically evaluates diet recommendations, current knowledge about the role of diet in maintaining health, and use of nutrition to treat disease. Discusses how studies are conducted to understand the impact of nutrition. Explores different diets and the obesity epidemic, its causes and its implications for the next decades.
Mondays 4-6pm, Robinson Hall 105
Website: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k72439
Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter
Science of the Physical Universe 27
Michael Brenner and David Weitz
This course is a collaboration between world-class chefs and Harvard professors. Each week, a chef will lecture about some aspect of gastronomy. This lecture will introduce and motivate a lecture about the science of soft materials by the Harvard professors. The course will cover the basic concepts in the science of soft materials, providing a solid understanding of their properties and behavior. All food is made of soft materials, and cooking relies on many of their fundamental properties. The course will also include laboratory work that uses concepts of cooking to understand and motivate experimental measurements on soft materials.
Tuesdays/Thursday 1-3pm, Science Center C
Website: http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k73658
Plants and Human Affairs
Organismic and Evolutionary Biology 59
Donald Pfister
An introduction to the uses of plants by humans. Topics include the form, structure and genetics of plants related to their use as sources of food, shelter, fiber, flavors, beverages, drugs, and medicines. Plant structure and reproduction are studied in lecture and laboratory with a particular focus on relationships between the plant’s structural, chemical, or physiological attributes and the utility plant.
Monday/Wednesday 10-11am, University Herbaria Seminar Room http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k73696
Evolution of Human Diet: Research Seminar
HEB 1414
Nancy Lou Conklin-Brittain
An exploration of modern controversies in human nutrition from an evolutionary perspective, using primate and human dietary adaptations, digestive physiologies, feeding behavior and ecology. We will explore topics including: nutritional requirements, optimal foraging, maternal and infant nutrition, the nature of early hominid diets, the role of hunting and carnivory in human evolution, and finally, the nutritional impact of agriculture and technology on dietary composition and modern human diets.
Wednesdays 1-3pm
Website: http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/9881
The Language of Art, Music, Food
Italian 35
Elvira Guida DiFabio
The 35/36 sequence offers insights into Italian society through three major cultural identifiers: art, music, and food. In the Fall term, content focuses on art and/or operatic libretti. For students with a solid grasp of the fundamentals of Italian grammar. Aims at improving command of the language both in speaking and writing, combined with reading strategies.

Website: http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/2659

Global Food Politics and Policy
Harvard Kennedy School:
Robert Paarlberg
The politics of food is changing fast. In rich countries, obesity is now a more serious problem than hunger. Food companies and subsidized commercial farmers are facing stronger push back from environmentalists and consumer activists. In the developing countries of Asia, agricultural success has triggered income growth and dietary enrichment, but agricultural setbacks in Africa have left one third of all citizens poor and malnourished. The international markets that link these diverse regions together remain subject to protectionist trade policies and sudden disruptions. This course will provide a comprehensive analysis of politics and policy making in these contentious food and farming sectors, both at the national and global level. Topics covered will include famine, chronic undernutrition, farm subsidies, food trade, food aid, biofuels, environmentally sustainable farming, links to water and climate change, agribusiness, the global spread of fast food and supermarkets, food safety, organic food, and genetically engineered food.
Tuesdays/Thursdays 11:40am – 1pm Littauer L332
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