OSU adds 'Food and Culture in Social Justice' certificate and grad minor

OSU College Republicans President, Peter Halajian, had mixed feelings about the certificate and minor.

Oregon State University's "Food in Culture and Social Justice" program will have students "critically evaluate the role of food in the construction of identity."

Oregon State University recently introduced an undergraduate certificate and graduate minor in “Food in Culture and Social Justice.”

The program, which is offered to undergraduates and graduates, seeks to “develop and apply critical thinking and critical writing competencies about food, culture and social justice,” according to the program’s learning outcomes. Students will also “critically evaluate the role of food in the construction of identity (gender, ethnicity, religious, etc.).” 

Classes required for students to obtain a certificate in the program include “Food Justice,” “Food and Ethnic Identity: Decolonizing Food and Our Body,” “Fat Studies,” and more.

[RELATED: Harvard students can now earn a ‘Social Justice Certificate’]

Oregon State’s “Fat Studies” course “examines body weight, shape, and size as an area of human difference subject to privilege and discrimination that intersects with other systems of oppression based on gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and ability. Employs a multi-disciplinary approach spanning the behavioral sciences and humanities,” according to the description. “Frames weight-based oppression as a social justice issue, exploring forms of activism used to counter weightism perpetuated throughout various societal institutions.”

Another class, “Food Justice,” examines food systems from a social justice and cultural perspective.

The Food and Culture in Social Justice brochure says that the program helps students realize that the decisions they make with food have major implications.

OSU College Republicans President, Peter Halajian, told Campus Reform that while parts of the program may not be necessary, it is fundamentally a good idea.

“You really cannot accurately understand agriculture without looking at society as well, and if that is a perspective students are interested in, then I think this program is necessary,” Halajian said. “I have looked over the course catalog...and while I will admit some classes seem a little odd to me (i.e. Fat Studies as an elective), I am entirely less concerned about the content and more concerned with whether or not students can actively dissent without being shouted down, harassed, or punitively punished by professors of those classes.”

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While he said the program wouldn’t hurt anyone’s chances of getting a job after college, Halajian noted that not many organizations would be looking for students with a specialty in “Food and Culture in Social Justice.” He said that the program may be useful for students looking to work for non-profits, but that it will mainly be used as a “selling point.”

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