About CDAE 1040 A

Provides an introduction to gender, race, class, and ethnicity with particular emphasis on food, population, economic, and ecological issues in sustainable agriculture, food systems, and community development. The geographical focus emphasizes the United States.


Open to Degree and PACE students

Section Description

Course Overview Every time we purchase and consume food, we are making decisions—whether we acknowledge it or not—about how we participate in food systems. How we participate in food systems is largely and often invisibly informed by how these systems are currently structured and their emphasis on “consumer choice” and corporate profits. In turn, this participation affects the lives of those who are employed in and often reliant upon the business of the production, processing, and distribution of our food. The lives of those who grow our vegetables, pick our fruit, and process our meat are directly impacted by the policy and practice of our food systems. Where this food goes, who it is marketed to and who is able to purchase and consume it is also determined by these same systems. Our participation embeds and implicates us in the policy orientations and social inequities that shape and define these systems. The decisions we make and the available options from which we choose are not natural phenomena but rather the product of the society we live in. This includes our cultural and political paradigms in our understanding of the world, the social rules by which we learn to live, the laws we write, the policies we pass, and the legacies of our national history. Structural racism and injustice are defining attributes of our society and so are inherently embedded within our food systems. As a D1 course, the content of CDAE 1040 describes how and why structural racism shapes the US food system and the ways that this system contributes to (or, in some cases, seeks to address) structural racism and inequity. In particular, we will look at the impacts of racism and racialized violence on the US food system through historical events and their legacies, social and cultural norms, and legal and political institutions. Social issues are inextricably linked to food and how we interact with food systems in the United States. As an S1 course, CDAE 1040 uses a social science lens to explore how individuals, groups, and institutions affect and interact with each other. Through systematic investigation, we will generate explanatory frameworks for understanding human behavior, action, and social practices. We will examine past and present social problems; think critically about individual, local, regional, and global contexts; and learn how social scientists strive to improve societal well-being.

Section Expectation

Goals and Objectives Our practice in this course will emphasize critical reflection, systems thinking, and interdisciplinary learning. This class will ask you to explore and interrogate your own perspectives and values in conversation with those introduced through the course materials. You are invited to be active collaborators in building the collective knowledge of this community. Through readings, lectures, discussions, and assignments, this course encourages students to: 1. Understand how structural racism manifests throughout the US food system (i.e., production, processing, distribution, and consumption); 2. Learn primary historical events of racialized violence and trace their ongoing effects on the institutionalized racism within our current US food system; 3. Analyze how US food and agriculture laws and policies explicitly privilege some actors while disenfranchising and dispossessing others; 4. Articulate how the industrial food complex impacts both its workers and consumers with particular emphasis on racial disparities; and 5. Evaluate one’s own identity and social position within the US food system. Teaching Philosophy My belief is that education is an intrinsically political undertaking. While it has the power to disrupt systems of injustice, it also holds the power to further entrench those systems. Education perpetuates injustice when it subscribes to a dominant narrative without examining what perspectives are excluded or silenced. My goal is to amplify voices that expose systemic injustice through lived experiences, and to facilitate connection between those individual realities and the “big picture” context in which they exist. I hope that as students you will engage with the ongoing work of transforming systems of discrimination and power within and beyond the food system. My objective is for our learning community to be an environment in which we all work together to build knowledge. To that end, I hope to facilitate dialogue among the class—including myself—that upholds the goals of this course, and is collaborative and responsive to your feedback. I wish to support your learning process to the best of my ability by working with you towards your goals. Finally, I intend to learn alongside you—and from you—as we negotiate subject matter and community dynamics together.


Attendance and Participation - Students are expected to come to class prepared and ready to engage with the materials and your classmates. This means a) thoughtfully reading, viewing, or listening to all resources assigned; b) drawing connections between what you learned from assigned materials, and lectures/discussions/activities that take place in class; c) actively engaging in class discussions and activities; d) appropriately contributing your perspectives and considering those of your peers; and e) upholding community standards. - Participation checks will be assigned throughout the semester. These checks ask you to post a response to a prompt on our Brightspace site by the end of the day they are assigned. - In order to achieve the participation goals outlined above, you need to come to class. Quizzes - You will have a weekly quiz on Brightspace that relates to course materials from that week. Quizzes will be due each Monday at midnight. These quizzes are not meant to stump you; they are a tool to hold you accountable for engaging with assigned materials and to deepen your understanding of course themes by working with the information you learn. Assignments - The following assignments will make up this portion of your grade: learning contract, food justice film review, policy in action paper, and final reflection project. If you foresee difficulties meeting an assignment deadline, it is imperative that you communicate with us proactively. Extensions are available if you contact us at least 24 hours before the due date of the assignment. Small Group Discussions - Though this is a lecture-style class, you will be doing a lot of work in small groups throughout the semester. You will form a small discussion group with no more than three of your peers, and each week you will spend some class time synthesizing concepts, examples, and questions from class in your small group.

Important Dates

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

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