One of only a handful of university-based academic food studies programs in the country, the UO Food Studies Program is set apart by its broad interdisciplinary approach that spans the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences. Founded in 2013, the Food Studies Program aims to foster the kind of in-depth research and analysis that will establish our campus as a leading player in the developing field of food studies, making the UO a center for intellectual and policy work on matters of increasing local and global significance.
The idea for the UO Food Studies Program came about in 2011 when, following an amazingly powerful Food Justice Conference at the University of Oregon’s Wayne Morse Center, more than a dozen faculty and graduate students met to discuss strategies for harnessing the momentum on our campus around food issues. It was quickly acknowledged that many of the existing food studies programs in the US focus on the fields of gastronomy, agriculture, and nutrition, while relatively few have the kind of breath and depth of expertise represented on our campus. Also in 2011, an interdisciplinary research group, Food in the Field, emerged with the support of the Center for the Study of Women in Society. The group has hosted numerous work-in-progress talks and receptions for visiting food scholars on diverse topics that spanned the globe from prehistory to the present.
Due to the broad interest in food issues among its faculty across disciplines and its core strength in the liberal arts and sciences, the University of Oregon is uniquely positioned to address the need for a truly interdisciplinary food studies program. Added to these strong academic foundations, our program is located in one of the most beautiful and productive regions of the United States. The Eugene-Springfield area, the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Northwest at large represent a tremendously rich environment for food studies and food-related livelihoods and enterprises.
With the launch in Fall 2013 of a new Graduate Specialization in Food Studies, we have taken an important step toward establishing a signature program. Due to its existing and firm commitment to interdisciplinary research and teaching and its established focus on food related themes, the Environmental Studies Program has become the academic home for the Food Studies Program.