Carnegie Mellon University

Grand Challenge Freshman Seminar: Feeding The World, Feeding Ourselves

Course Number: 66-119

Food in the twenty-first century is ripe with paradox: fewer people than ever work as farmers or ranchers, but the quantity and global variety of foods available to consumers continues to expand; public health officials around the world are raising alarms about diseases linked to the over-consumption of fats and sugars, even as hundreds of millions of people do not know where their next meal is coming from; organic agriculture is booming, while agribusiness giants like Monsanto continue to expand. Producing food consumes more land and water resources than any other human activity. The individual and collective decisions people make about food shape individual and community health, social justice, and sustainability. If we are to make sound decisions about how to feed the world and feed ourselves, we need to understand the highly creative and contentious ways that people produce and consume food. In this class we will address the following central questions in order to unravel some paradoxes, and help us make informed choices, about foods we consume: (1) What are the origins of agriculture, and why does it matter for the future of food? (2) How do cultural, ecological, economic, and technological contexts shape food acquisition, preparation, and consumption? (3) What are the causes of hunger — can we feed 8 billion people healthy food and not trash the planet? And (4) what roles have science and technology play in shaping “industrial food,” and what is their role in post-industrial food?

Academic Year: 2019-2020
Semester(s): Spring