Spring 2014 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Brown, Matt
Discipline and Number
ISAH 4V88 Section
Time (No time assigned)
Course Title
Values and Science of Food

Description of Course:

This is a special course associated with the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology lecture series on "Food for Thought: What Should We Eat?" Credit for this course will involve attending the Center's special events, participating in discussions during the small-group events, and submitting brief reflection pieces based on your experience at these events.

Food---what is a more central part of our lives? We eat it every day. We regularly travel to restaurants and grocery stores to get it. We cycle through fad diets; we are inundated by a variety of radical movements: veganism, primalism, localism, raw foodism. But how often do we really think about food? The topic of food brings a variety of scientific, ethical, and philosophical questions to the table. Where does it come from? What impact does the large-scale, technologically sophisticated system of industrial agriculture have on our food, our bodies, and our environment? What does it mean to eat well? Can science make better food or better eaters? Is it okay to be a picky eater? Do our common ways of eating create injustices---do we wrong others through our choices of food? Is it okay to eat meat? What if it is or isn't factory-farmed?

In the 2013-14 "Food For Thought: What Should We Eat?" series of lectures and events, the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology will explore the issues of ethics and values that arise in the fields of consumption and production of food. With the help of our speakers, we will examine how economic, political and cultural values and ethics should shape our decisions about what to eat and how to get it.

Please join us for the series of events that will, I hope, touch off conversations and activities far beyond the walls of the University.

Required Texts:


Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

1. Attendance, participation, and professional conduct (50%).
2. Response papers (50%) - 1-2 page response to the event that makes and argues for a claim or explores an idea throughout the semester.

Course Calendar

  1. Thursday, January 16, 10:00am-11:15am in JO 3.536
    • Introduction to the course, opening discussion
  2. Thursday, January 23, 10:00am-11:15am in JO 3.536
    • Viewing of Peter Singer's lecture, "The Ethics of What We Eat."
    • Response paper due: January 30.
  3. Wednesday, January 29, 7:30pm-9:00pm in Jonsson Performance Hall
    • Documentary Night: Food, Inc.
    • Response paper due: February 5.
  4. Wednesday, February 5, 7:30pm-9:00pm in Jonsson Performance Hall
    • Documentary Night: The Perfect Human Diet
    • Response paper due: February 12.
  5. Wednesday, February 26, 7:30pm-9:00pm in Jonsson Performance Hall
    • Lecture: David Kaplan, "Whats Wrong With Food Additives?"
    • Response paper due: March 5.
  6. Wednesday, April 23, 7:30pm-9:00pm in Jonsson Performance Hall
    • Lecture: Roberta Millstein, "Genetically Modified Food: Feeding the World or Fouling the World?"
  7. Thursday, April 24, 10:00am-11:15am in JO 3.536
    • Special discussion with Roberta Millstein
    • Response paper due: April 30.
  8. Thursday, May 1, 10:00am-11:15am in JO 3.536
    • Wrap-up discussion.

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