Food Studies Graduate Certificate

Ideal for students and professionals who are considering a career change or seeking to enhance their credentials, the Graduate Certificate in Food Studies at Boston University’s Metropolitan College provides a solid foundation in gastronomy—and can be tailored to focus on food-related areas such as business, communication, history and culture, or policy.

The four-course Food Studies certificate program is a good choice for those who may not be in a position to commit to a full degree program. However, because the certificate program shares courses with the Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy, students who are accepted into the MLA in Gastronomy program may apply 16 credits toward their degree requirements.

The certificate can be completed on a part-time basis in one year by taking two courses per semester. Occasional courses are offered online for students who wish to complete their certificate at a distance. Look for sections “OL” or “EL” in the course descriptions.

Students who complete the Graduate Certificate in Food Studies will be able to demonstrate:

  • An ability to critically analyze current and foundational issues in food studies and food systems.
  • Proficiency in qualitative and quantitative methodologies for interdisciplinary food studies research.
  • Competence in the written and oral presentation of complex ideas and arguments in scholarly and professional contexts.

For more information about the Food Studies certificate, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.

(16 credits)

A total of 16 credits from the following:

Historians? approaches to environmental history, including human elements of technology, demography, local knowledge, political ecology, and social organization. Geographical foci include North America, Atlantic World, Asia, and Africa.  [ 4 cr. ]

ML610 is the designation for "Special Topics in Gastronomy". The subject matter for ML610 courses changes from semester to semester, and more than one ML610 can be offered in a given semester. Course descriptions for all ML610 sections are listed below. For more information, please contact the department Graduate Student Advisor.

Fall 2016 -- Special Topic: "Ethical Eating and the Food Movement"

This course will consider the industrialization of agriculture and the emergence of global food supply chains, and the corresponding efforts to find alternatives, such as sustainable and ethical food consumption, "slow food", "locavores", veganism, "meatless Monday", organic agriculture, community-supported agriculture and many more. Utilizing ethnographies, documentary films, short videos and photographs, the class will explore how issues such as environmental sustainability, globalization, health and social justice are embedded in new food movements, and we will ask if and how ethical eating has become primarily an elite social practice.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C1 IND SHA 201 W 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

How people have obtained and processed a wide range of foods through time, beginning with early humans. Food used by hunter/gatherers; changes in diet and nutrition through time to early farmers. Examines archaeological evidence for types of plants and animals exploited for food, as well as human skeletal evidence for ancient nutrition and diseases related to diet and food stress. Consideration of early historical periods, especially in terms of how certain foods such as wine have played a significant role in culture beyond basic dietary needs.   [ 4 cr. ]

Exploration of the food cultures and technologies through material culture- pots, pans, and utensils. Course will range broadly across cultures, time, and space with emphasis on medieval and early modern times. Life histories of humble, overlooked, everyday objects associated with food preparation and consumption; kitchens from prehistory to the present; tradition and fashion in cooking & dining vessels; pots and cooking technology; pots as metaphors & symbols.   [ 4 cr. ]

  [ 4 cr. ]

"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."-- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) In this course, we will use the tools of the philosopher to study various aspects of food--its classification, preparation, consumption, and judgments about the practices affected by it. The focus in this course will be how philosophers contribute to food studies through engagement with long-standing philosophical questions--not just in aesthetics, moral and political philosophy, but also in metaphysics and epistemology. Topics addressed in the class may include foods as natural (or non-natural) kinds; cultural knowledge, know-how and food traditions; eating and identity; eating, rationality and norms; vegetarianism and moral philosophy; and neuroscience, culture and taste.   [ 4 cr. ]

  [ 4 cr. ]

Cooking is chemistry, and it is the chemistry of food that determines the outcome of culinary undertakings. In this course, basic chemical properties of food are explored in the context of modern and traditional cooking techniques. The impact of molecular changes resulting from preparation, cooking, and storage is the focus of academic inquiry. Illustrative, culturally specific culinary techniques are explored through the lens of food science and the food processing industry. Examination of "chemistry-in- the-pan" and sensory analysis techniques will be the focus of hands-on in- class and assigned cooking labs.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND FLR 121 M 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This research seminar in food history focuses on the markets and marketplaces over centuries and across a wide geographical area. The focus of this seminar is to hone students? research and writing skills. The broad general topic will allow students to pursue their own special research interest within a larger context while working with others engaged in similar research and writing challenges. By the end of the semester, students will have made a start on conference papers in the field of food studies and indentified potential venues for presenting their work. 4 cr  [ 4 cr. ]

History is part of a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to food studies. Our goals in reading history include understanding the ways in which the history of food has shaped our world today and examining ways in which contemporary questions and problems inform historical inquiries. Course readings address some of the ways in which food has influenced human history, particularly at crucial turning points -- for example, the rise of the first civilizations and the European discovery of the Americas. We will also study selected past events and societies through the lens of food and foodways. The topics chosen for the course are presented in thematic and geographic categories, rather than in strict chronological order. The themes are divided among three encompassing meta-themes: Technology & Nature, Mobility, and Culture & Cuisine. These meta-themes will help us to move from the details of our specific weekly topics to their meanings in relationship to larger forces in world history. Students will learn about historical methodology and apply it to their own research.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND SHA 210 T 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Humans have been foraging for food since prehistoric times, but the recent interest in wild and foraged foods raises interesting issues about our connection to nature amid the panorama of industrially oriented food systems. From political economy to Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), this course explores how we interact with, perceive, and know our world through the procurement of food. Students take part in foraging activities and hands-on culinary labs in order to engage the senses in thinking about the connections between humans, food, and the environment.  [ 4 cr. ]

The association between France and fine cuisine seems so "natural." French society and history are intertwined with the culinary, and have been since the court society of the Old Regime. After the French Revolution, French cuisine became a truly modern affair in the public sphere. The invention of the restaurant, the practice of gastronomy, a literature of food, and strong links between French cuisine and national identity all came together in the 19th century. In the 19th and 20th centuries, French food, featuring both haute cuisine and regional culinary specialties, was widely considered the world's best. In the 20th century, the culinary allure of France continued to fascinate people all over the world. It is still said today, enviously, that the French really know how to appreciate good food and wine "la bonne chère" in their daily lives. This course looks at how the history of French culinary culture evolved in the particular way that it did. The course is organized largely chronologically, but not entirely, as some of the readings weave issues of different times periods thematically. In studying culture and cuisine, with France as a great example, we will explore the relationship between a place, a people, and their foodways. We launch our investigation with the question: how and why is this relationship distinctive in France?   [ 4 cr. ]

Understanding wine is impossible without knowing its rich and varied history. This course provides a survey of significant developments in the production, distribution, consumption and cultural uses of grape-based alcoholic beverages in the West. Topics include the role wine has played in the economy and culture of civilizations from the ancient Near East all the way through to its global impact in the 21st Century. We will focus in particular on wine as a religious symbol and a consumer beverage in the modern world.   [ 4 cr. ]

A comparative perspective on issues of human subsistence through time. Changing patterns of nutrition and health, agricultural production, methods of coping with famine and organizing feasts, and origins and impact of culinary and dietary innovations.  [ 4 cr. ]

How are the foodways of New England's inhabitants, past and present, intertwined with the history and culture of this region? In this course, students will have the opportunity to examine the cultural uses and meanings of foods and foodways in New England using historical, archaeological, oral, and material evidence. We will focus on key cultural, religious and political movements that have affected foodways in the region, as well as the movement of people.   [ 4 cr. ]

What can food tell us about human culture and social organization? Food offers us many opportunities to explore the ways in which humans go about their daily lives from breaking bread at the family table, haggling over the price of meat at the market to worrying about having enough to eat. Food can also tell us about larger social organizations and global interconnections through products like Spam that are traded around the globe and the ways in which a fruit like the tomato transformed the culinary culture of European nations. In this course we will consider how the Anthropology of Food has developed as a subfield of Cultural Anthropology. We will also look at the various methodologies and theoretical frameworks used by anthropologists to study food and culture. 4 cr.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
D1 IND CAS 228 R 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This course explores what food ethnography is and how food ethnographers work. Students will learn about food ethnography by reading and discussing its methods and by practicing them. Students will write a research design for an ethnographic project on some aspect of Boston?s multifaceted alternative food system, carry out the research, analyze their data, and write up and orally present the results. Students will learn about and use the methods of participant observation, interviews, photography, food mapping, informant documentation, food logs, and others. They will learn about research ethics. They will pay particular attention to the ways that studying food culture presents unique methods and insights.  [ 4 cr. ]

An extensive historical exploration into prints, drawings, film, television, and photography relating to food in the United States and elsewhere. Examines how food images represent aesthetic concerns, social habits, demographics, domestic relations, and historical trends.   [ 4 cr. ]

Focusing on the dialogue between gastronomy and art, from antiquity to the present, this seminar offers students the opportunity to research the work of artists who represented food, drink, harvest and hunger, the role of the decorative arts in dining and the relationship of national traditions of art and cuisine. Students test the validity of analogies that scholars have drawn between developments in the two areas of endeavor. Uncharted areas of affinity linking art and cuisine are explored. Providing an introduction to fundamental aspects of the art historical periods in question, the course is designed to accommodate students without previous formal study of art history. Those with prior experience in the discipline will be given new purchase on the art.  [ 4 cr. ]

We can all take pleasure in eating good food, but what about watching other people eat or cook food? This course will survey the history of food in film. It will pay particular attention to how food and foodways are depicted as expressions of culture, politics, and group or personal identity. We will watch a significant number of films, both fiction and non-fiction, classic and modern. A good portion of class time will also be given to discussing the readings in combination with hands-on, in-depth analysis of the films themselves.   [ 4 cr. ]

Students will develop and improve food-writing skills through the study of journalistic ethics; advertising; scientific and technological matters; recipe writing; food criticism; anthropological and historical writing about food; food in fiction, magazines and newspapers.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND YAW 440 M 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This course is designed to introduce major concepts in nutrition and diet to students of food studies and other disciplines who have limited or no background in the biological sciences. The overarching goal is to develop a working understanding of the basic science of nutrition and apply this knowledge to personal health and professional settings. The course begins with the fundamentals of nutrition and diet, focusing on macro- and micronutrient intakes and needs throughout the life course. Food-based nutrition will also be discussed, alongside dietary guidelines, recommendations, and food labels. Moving from the individual level to the larger public health arena, we will also examine such topics as nutritional ecology, influences on dietary intakes, overnutrition, and undernutrition. A running theme throughout will be critiquing how diet and nutrition are treated in the media and press.  [ 4 cr. ]

Cultural tourism in the 21st century is more than the traditional passive activities of visiting a museum, hearing a concert or strolling down an historic street. It has become an active, dynamic branch of tourism in which half of all tourists have stated that they want some cultural activities during their vacation. In this course we will introduce various themes of cultural tourism including the relationship between the Tourist Industry and the Cultural Heritage Manager, conservation and preservation vs. utilization of a cultural asset, authenticity vs. commoditization, stakeholders and what should be their rights and obligations, tangible and intangible tourist assets, the role of government, private industry and the non-profit sectors in tourism planning and sustainable economic development. We will examine these themes in different areas of cultural tourism including the art industry, historical sites, cultural landmarks, special events and festivals, theme parks and gastronomy.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND CAS 203 T 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This course is designed to introduce students to current and foundational issues in food studies and gastronomy. Through this focus on central topics, students will engage directly in the interdisciplinary method that is central to food studies. Each week will introduce a unique view of the holistic approach that is central to a liberal arts approach to studying food and a new research technique will be presented and put into practice through the readings and course exercises. This course will give Gastronomy students a better understanding of the field as a whole. While providing an overview and methodological toolbox, it will act as a springboard in to areas of specialization of the course. 4 cr.  [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
C2 IND EPC 203 W 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This course takes an anthropological, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary approach to food and gender, looking at how masculinity and femininity are defined through beliefs and practices surrounding food and body. It explores theories of gender and methods for studying it and engages students in ethnographic research on gender and food.  [ 4 cr. ]

Examines the role of food in society and how it shapes identity and structures our lives. Explores multiple contexts of food production, access, procurement, and consumption, including rural agricultural sites, urban homesteads, grocery shopping, CSAs, and food assistance programs, and the intersection of food practices with class, ethnicity, race, and gender.   [ 4 cr. ]

This course surveys the history of American agriculture from the colonial era to the present. It examines how farmers understood markets, made crop choices, adopted new technologies, developed political identities, and sought government assistance. Emphasis on the environmental, ideological, and institutional impact of farm modernization and industrialization.  [ 4 cr. ]

Growing food in urban contexts raises interesting questions about food access, nutrition education, perceptions of public spaces and the place of nature in the urban environment. This course focuses on urban agriculture in Boston and a number of case studies from around the globe. Students visit gardens, learn basic cultivation skills through hands-on activities, and study the social and cultural sides of urban agriculture, as well as the political and city planning aspects of urban agriculture projects. 4 cr.  [ 4 cr. ]

This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the sensory foundations and implications of food. We will study the senses as physical and cultural phenomena, the evolving concepts of terroir and craft, human nutritional and behavioral science, sensory perception and function, and the sensory and scientific aspects of food preparation and consumption. Understanding these processes, constructions and theories is key to understanding a vast array of food-related topics; cheese-making, wine-tasting, fermentation, food preservation, culinary tools and methods, cravings and food avoidance, sustainability and terroir, to name just a few.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
A1 IND CAS 228 M 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Reviews various competing and sometimes conflicting frameworks for assessing what are "good" foods. Examines what global, national, state, and local food policies can do to promote the production and consumption of these foods. Participants learn how to conceptualize, measure, and assess varying ecological, economic, nutritional, health, cultural, political, and justice claims. Students analyze pathways connecting production and consumption of particular foodstuffs in the U.S. and the world. Emphasis is on comparative food systems and food value chains, and the respective institutional roles of science and technology, policy, and advocacy in shaping food supply and demand.  [ 4 cr. ]

This course presents frameworks and case studies that will advance participants' understandings of U.S. and global food systems and policies. Adopting food-systems and food-chain approaches, it provides historical, cultural, theoretical and practical perspectives on world food problems and patterns of dietary and nutritional change, so that participants acquire a working knowledge of the ecology and politics of world hunger and understand the evolution of global-to-local food systems and diets. Global overview of world food situations will be combined with more detailed national and local-level case studies and analysis that connect global to local food crisis and responses.   [ 4 cr. ]

Section Type Instructor Location Days Times
B1 IND SHA 201 T 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This course overviews the forces shaping U.S. food policies, cultural politics, diet, and nutrition situations in the twenty-first century. After reviewing the history of U.S. domestic food policy, course discussions consider globalization, new agricultural and food technologies, new nutrition knowledge, immigration, and "sustainable-food" ideology as drivers of American dietary and food-regulatory change. "Food systems," "food chains," and "dietary structure" provide the major analytical frameworks for tracing how food moves from farm to table, and the role of local through national government and non-government institutions in managing these food flows.   [ 4 cr. ]

In this class students will explore the work of anthropologists and other social scientists on food activism citizens' efforts to promote social and economic justice through food practices and challenge the global corporate agrifood system. The class will explore diverse individual and collective forms of food activism including veganism, gleaning, farmers' markets, organic farming, fair trade, CSAs, buying groups, school gardens, anti-GMO movements, Slow Food, Via Campesina, and others. It will address the questions: what is food activism, what are its goals, what is working and not working, and what are the results?   [ 4 cr. ]

Courses may not be repeated for credit.

View all Gastronomy graduate courses.