Students at a Culinaria pop-up session. U of T Scarborough program explores how food nourishes our bodies and our souls.
U of T Scarborough program explores how food nourishes our bodies and our souls. (Photo by Ken Jones)
Thursday, January 11 - 2018
Shelley Romoff

University of Toronto Scarborough will offer Canada’s first food studies program emphasizing the humanities and social sciences.

The Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Food Studies, approved by U of T Scarborough Campus Council’s Academic Affairs Committee on Jan. 9, formalizes the growing research and graduate student presence in the campus’ Culinaria Research Centre. Established in 2015, the centre promotes the interdisciplinary study of food, culture and society, bringing together students and scholars from the humanities, social sciences and sciences to improve our understanding of how food nourishes our bodies and our souls. 

The Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Food Studies, approved by U of T Scarborough Campus Council’s Academic Affairs Committee on Jan. 9, formalizes the growing research and graduate student presence in the campus’ Culinaria Research Centre.

“The graduate program will introduce students to the study of food in its social, cultural and political contexts—from agriculture to industry to consumption,” says Professor Dan Bender, Director of the Culinaria Research Centre. “This is a rapidly growing field that is attracting strong student interest.”

Graduate students in Master’s and PhD program will benefit through enhanced credentials in the academic job market, as well as increased competitiveness for the growing number of careers in not-for-profit, policy, social entrepreneurship, museum and business sectors.

“The graduate program will introduce students to the study of food in its social, cultural and political contexts—from agriculture to industry to consumption,” says Professor Dan Bender, Director of the Culinaria Research Centre. “This is a rapidly growing field that is attracting strong student interest.”

The Culinaria Research Centre offers a unique focus on the scholarship of food and cities, which has advanced field-leading international partnerships and innovative approaches to undergraduate and graduate teaching. One example, says Bender, is the state-of-the-art Culinaria Research Kitchen, which enables practical, multisensory learning as well as unique possibilities for student research.

In its first year, the research centre hosted two remarkable programs: U of T’s Connaught Cross-Divisional Cross-Cultural Seminar, and the first-ever joint meeting of three leading professional societies in the field: the Association for the Study of Food and Society; the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society; and the Canadian Association for Food Studies, which welcomed more than 500 food scholars for a four-day program exploring global and local food issues through presentations, art exhibitions, field trips, panel discussions and live cooking demonstrations.

The Collaborative Graduate Specialization in Food Studies is also the first U of T collaborative specialization to be hosted on a campus other than the University’s St. George campus, and the first for U of T Scarborough’s humanities departments.