Fresh UA Degrees Focus on Food

Carolyn Niethammer, Chris Richards photo
Vegetables grown by Tucson elementary students

Responding to an interest from students in food-related careers, the University of Arizona is offering two new undergraduate degrees: a bachelor of arts in food studies and a bachelor of science in nutrition and food systems.

Food studies, located in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, or SBS, focuses on the cultural dimensions of food. Nutrition and food systems, located in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, or CALS, focuses on the food system from production to consumption.

The two colleges have created a collaborative curriculum and both degrees will incorporate science and social science perspectives on food. 

The University of Arizona is already home to a number of food-related degrees, such as CALS’ nutritional sciences and food safety degrees. Tucson’s deep roots in food diversity and heritage, which resulted in its designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2015, make the UA a top destination for students who are passionate about food and understanding the connection between food, nutrition, society and health. 

Through the B.A. in food studies degree, students will learn about the social, political, economic and environmental dimensions of food and will be prepared to help resolve complex food issues such as food insecurity, food deserts, food and environmental sustainability, food sovereignty, and cultural and entrepreneurial activity around food.

Students earning a B.S. in nutrition and food systems will deal specifically with regional food issues such as food production challenges in an arid desert region, utilizing desert and local foods in product development, and incorporating the cultural influences that shape the local cuisine.  

“This program is really about equipping students with the skills to become critical thinkers and change-makers in our food systems,” says Laurel Bellante, assistant director of the food studies degree program and assistant director of the Center for Regional Food Studies, a hub for critical human-environment research related to food.