For Serious Foodies Only

A new certificate in Food Studies appeals to those with a consuming interest in how the world nourishes itself.

By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 28, 2012) – Between food, clothing and shelter, food always comes out first as a basic need.

For a subject that has such tremendous universal social, personal, ethical, environmental and global significance, Food Studies as a discipline unto itself couldn’t be timelier. A certificate is being made available in this subject area at the University of South Florida beginning in 2013.

The Food Studies Certificate course of study was designed for people in any field with any major, according to Annette Cozzi, a USF assistant professor  who teaches in the Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies. She conceptualized, organized and now co-directs the program.

“This is an opportunity to gain interdisciplinary knowledge at its best by studying the social, cultural, anthropological, historical and philosophical aspects of the production, consumption and representations of food,” Cozzi said. “As the world’s population grows and makes greater demands on the food supply, expertise in this area will be needed in a variety of ways.”

Humanities and Cultural Studies Academic Advisor Kasandrea Sereno points out, “Careers in resource management and urban planning or working for government agencies or local and international non-governmental organizations would be enhanced with this academic concentration.”

The program’s courses have delectable titles, especially for those hungry for a broad range of knowledge: “Ancient Diets,” “Food in Film,” “Italian Food in Film,” “Ethics of Food Production,” “Religion and Food,” “Food and Gender,” and “Nutritional Anthropology,” to name a few.


“Food Studies is a growing field that offers students the opportunity to be genuinely interdisciplinary in their methodological approach,” said Cozzi.


The certificate will be offered through Humanities and Cultural Studies. The one required course is “Food, Culture and Society,” then students can choose from courses listed under Cultural Contexts and Identities, Global Ecology and Sustainability, and Nutrition and Cuisine.


“The courses are rigorous and enlightening and in this program require a minimum of a 2.5 GPA,” Sereno said. “We trust students will come through this program with a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of this important part of our lives.”

In keeping with USF’s global focus, the courses centered on Italian food will be taught during the Summer Abroad Program at the Palazzi Institute of Florence.


“We take food for granted because in so many ways it is commonplace,” said Patrizia La Trecchia, an associate professor who will teach the course on Italian Food in Film (FOL 4101). “But when you consider that 900 million people are starving on our planet and one third of the world’s food production is wasted even as there is an obesity epidemic in this country, most of the related issues will require economic and political solutions. The European Union is taking action by declaring 2014 the ‘European Year Against Food Waste.’ Well-educated people are needed to help find these solutions.”

La Trecchia’s course will map the consumption of food in a variety of geo-cultural settings, paying special attention to the representation of Italian food in transnational cinema.

Ethics of Food Production Instructor Sara Dykins Callahan, who assisted in the development of the program and now serves as co-director said, “The requirements for this certificate have been carefully planned and thought out to give those who earn it a very strong background. It offers students the opportunity to pursue various food-related topics such as sustainability, cultural performances, social justice, globalization, aesthetic representations, and more, from a theoretical and/or applied perspective. I believe the certificate fills a need at USF for students who would like to engage in interdisciplinary study of political, social, cultural, and economic issues, in this case as they intersect with food.”

The faculty is diverse, drawn from the Departments of Anthropology (Robbie Baer, David Himmelgreen, Robert Tykot, Christian Wells, Kevin Yelvington and Rebecca Zarger), English (Heather Meakin), Humanities and Cultural Studies (Elaine Smith), Health Sciences (Claudia Cooperman) Religious Studies (Dell DeChant, William Schanbacher) Sociology (Shawn Bingham, Laurel Graham), Women’s and Gender Studies (Leisa Clark), World Languages’ Italian Program (Patrizia La Trecchia), and from the Library’s Special Collections (Andy Huse). 


For more information contact Undergraduate Director Aristoula Mandelos at (813) 974-9371, or Sereno at (813) 974-2699,


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.