ENV Certificate with Food and Environment Focus

The university now offers an ENV certificate with a Food & Environment Focus* within the Generalist Track. Click here for requirements for the F&A Focus as set forth by the Princeton Environmental Institute. Scroll down below to see relevant courses. The basics:

From the site: “The Generalist Track is designed for students who want a broad-based introduction to environmental issues and who wish to study a wide range of topics in environmental studies from a variety of perspectives (social, political, scientific, etc.).

Requirements for the Generalist Track are in addition to those of a student’s academic major. Program requirements also are published in the Princeton Undergraduate Announcement. By appropriate choice of courses, several of these requirements may satisfy the Program’s and the University’s distribution requirements. All courses to fulfill ENV Certificate Program requirements must be taken on a fully graded basis (no pass/fail) and graded as C or higher. Students interested in pursuing the Generalist Track are should complete the ENV Student Enrollment Form  and schedule a meeting with the ENV Program Director or Undergraduate Administrator as early as possible in their academic career.”

Environmental Food & Agriculture Focus

  1. One core course: either ENV 200A-F: “The Environmental Nexus,” or ENV 201A/B: “Fundamentals of Environmental Studies.”
  2. One advanced food or agriculture course: ENV 303: Agriculture, Human Diets; or a suitable substitute.
  3. Three electives from the Generalist Track list; two of these three courses must be from different academic divisions and should be at the 300-level or higher.

Environmental Food & Agriculture Courses (not all offered each year or each semester)

  • AAS 223: “Literature, Food, and the American Racial Diet”: Food, like books, is the site of our greatest consumption of and most vulnerable encounter with “otherness.” This course explores how “taste” informs the ways in which we ingest or dispel racial otherness. Through novels and cinema largely in Asian American and African American cultural production – and in the Asian and African diaspora– we study how the meeting of food and word inform categories such as race, nationhood, gender, ecology, and family, and class. Topics include: “Transcendental Primitivism,” “Modernist Orientalism,” “Chocolate Women on the Edge”, “Parenting/Consuming”, “Ecology and the Humanimal,” and more.
  • AMS 353/HIS 445 / LAS 359: “Sugar: A Commodity History of the United States”: Moving from the colonial era to the present, and from the Caribbean to the Midwest and the Pacific, we will place sugar in the history of European colonialism, trans-Atlantic slavery, capitalism, American Empire, and global immigration restrictions. During this period, the United States built a sugar empire that relied upon differentially racialized laborers, who worked under a variety of coercive labor systems. We will explore how the production and consumption of sugar connected diverse people and places in unequal ways, focusing on themes such as labor, migration, race, gender, citizenship, identity, power, resistance, and the land.
  • ANT 204 /ENV 208: “Food and Power”: Why do we drink “venti” coffee out of paper cups? Why is sugar consumed in large quantities in some parts of the world? The mundaneness of having to eat every day hides the powerful role of markets, ecologies and culture in shaping our consumption choices. From slavery to contemporary artisan and fair trade markets, food choice and food taboos offer us a way to express our ethical and cultural identities. Using several key anthropological theories, this course explores food economics, environmental sustainability, and consumption at the nexus of desire and repression.
  • ANT 362: “Foodways: Bicultural Aspects of Human Diet”: Foodways is a biocultural exploration of human food consumption. Readings and discussions will focus on both the biological and socio-cultural aspects of what humans eat and the ways human cultures conceptualize food and its consumption. Topics include the nutritional needs of humans, the differences between diet and cuisine, which foods taste good and why some foods taste disgusting, the evolution of human diet, how cultures define what is and what is not food, the symbolism associated with various kinds of food, and how cultures distinguish foods that are suitable for some members of the society and not others.
  • COM 211: “Reading and Writing Food from Homer to Julia Child”: This course explores a crucial aspect of Comparative Culture: the literature surrounding food, ranging from Homer to Julia Child. We will begin with a brief history of eating and drinking, mostly as they appear in literary texts from antiquity and early modernity. Topics will include Adam and Eve’s apple, the Last Supper, and Proust’s Madeleine. We will then proceed to food writing from modern times, focusing on taste, on the lure of particular foods, and on the social circumstances of dining. Particular emphasis on the reading and writing of culinary autobiography.
  • ECO 355/ENV 355: “Economics of Food and Agriculture”: Hunger and under-nutrition are widespread in poor countries while an obesity crisis is growing in rich countries. Rural-urban income inequality occurs throughout the world and farming and food industry practices everywhere have significant adverse effects on public health and the environment/climate. What are the economic causes of these problems? Are agricultural, food, nutrition and environmental policy measures currently proposed to deal with these problems effective? This course uses theoretical and empirical economic analysis to study the agricultural and food sector and related government policies in rich and poor countries.
  • EEB 382: “Tropical Agriculture”: Kenya has some of the most diverse set of crops and farming systems in Africa allowing students to compare productivity, diversity, and ecological processes. Students will spend their time exploring the varied agro-ecosystems, crops, livestock, climates, and soils under which agriculture is practiced in Kenya. The course includes key readings and discussions, intensive field sampling, GIS applications, and modeling. In addition, students will be exposed to the various ecological processes and ecosystem services provided by or interfered with by agriculture. Limited to students in the Tropical Biology and Sustainability Program in Kenya.
  • ENE 318/CBE 318: “Fundamentals of Biofuels”: What are biofuels, and why are we making them? What are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation biofuels? What is the controversy surrounding the food versus fuel debate? Will thermocatalysis or genetic engineering improve biofuel production? Can we make biofuels directly from light or electricity? These are some of the questions we will answer through engaging discussions, primary literature readings, and hands-on experience in making biofuels. In precept we will make bioethanol from corn (beer) or molasses (wine), biodiesel from cooking oil, and oil from algae.
  • ENV 200A-F: “The Environmental Nexus”: Introduction to the scientific, technological, political, ethical and humanistic dimensions of the nexus of environmental problems that pose an unprecedented risk at mid-century: food and water shortages for 9 billion people, climate change, biodiversity loss.  All sections of ENV 200 will meet together for lecture each week, but students will enroll in one of six possible precepts that will meet separately and pursue a particular disciplinary focus and earn credit for the corresponding distribution area.
    ·      200A: Welfare economics of environmental policy, the treatment of uncertainty, inter- and intra-generational inequalities, complications arising from variable and changing population size, valuation of the environment, valuation of life, equity criteria, co-benefits and economic discounting. 
    ·      ENV 200B (STL): Greenhouse gases, analysis of carbon isotopes, carbon storage in trees and soils, climate models, methane emissions, each student’s energy use and carbon footprint, agriculture, satellite remote sensing and fresh water availability.
    ·      ENV 200C (EM): Individual ethics, citizenship, cosmopolitan duties of humanity, fairness and equity, responsibility and the ethics of civic engagement. What is each student’s personal responsibility to help solve problems of the Environmental Nexus? Introduction to normative analysis.
    ·      ENV 200D (QR): Mathematical models and calculations that underpin our understanding of the Environmental Nexus, from global models of the climate, carbon and hydrologic cycles, to economic models that predict optimal mitigation policies. 
    ·      ENV 200E (LA): Imaginative challenges of the Environmental Nexus, and the international cast of artists and writers who, through environmentally engaged images and storytelling, are reframing the emergencies of the long term that stretch our imaginative capacities. 
    ·      ENV 200F (STN): Comprehensive scientific introduction to the Environmental Nexus. The precept will focus on climate, greenhouse gases, the carbon and hydrologic cycle, scientific agriculture, biodiversity and its effect on ecosystem function, and mitigation technologies. 
  • ENV 303/EEB 303: “Agriculture, Human Diets and the Environment”: Food fuels us and our diets connect us with nature at many scales. Yet most of us poorly understand how food is produced and how production processes impact our diets, health, livelihoods and the environment. By the course’s end, students will better understand the ethical, environmental, economic, social and medical implications of their food choices. Food production methods ranging from hunting, fishing and gathering to small and large scale crop and animal farming will be examined through lenses of ethics, ecology, evolutionary biology, geography, political economy, social dynamics, physiology, climate change and sustainability.
  • ENV 305: “Topics in Environmental Studies – Building American Style: Land-Use Policies and Rules”: Americans have built and preserved an astounding variety of environments. The course examines the evolving complex of incentives and regulations that drove the choices of where and how places developed. It focuses on the emergence of land-use and environmental planning as a way to encourage or discourage growth and to mitigate or intensify its environmental, social, and economic effects.We will examine the latest tools for building and protecting the American landscape. Case studies include Southern California, New Haven, the American Great Plains, and others. Analysis will be from historical, policy-oriented, and predictive perspectives.
  • ENV 405: “Meeting the Global Land Use Challenge”: People have plowed up, cut down and otherwise heavily manipulated more than 75% of the world’s land, and the degree and extent of this manipulation continues to expand to meet rising demands for food and wood products. This course will explore the consequences for biodiversity and climate change, the drivers of change and scenarios for the future. Students will think through the complex issues behind conservation planning for biodiversity and gain understanding of what is known and not known about the global carbon cycle.
  • ENV 407/AFS 407 / GHP 427: “Africa’s Food and Conservation Challenge”: This course will explore the economic, environmental, and social challenges of meeting growing food needs in sub-Saharan Africa. The region today has the lowest crop yields, the highest percentage of hungry people, and the highest population growth rates, and relies heavily on firewood for energy. The region also has vast areas of environmentally valuable forests and savannas. It has technical opportunities to produce crops better but faces challenges from high rainfall variability and climate change. The course will balance instruction, guest lectures and presentations by student teams, which will also produce a final paper.
  • FRS 138: “Science, Society & Dinner”: Hands-on culinary lab classes and resultant communal dinners that illustrate and amplify lectures in science, engineering, public policy, humanities and social sciences — while teaching students self-reliance and food literacy. Students, under the direction of James Beard award-winning chef Craig Shelton, prepare curriculum-specific meals together to exacting standards, learning basic (and not-so-basic) technique, background and critical thinking as applied to gastronomy, culinary theory, seasonality, palate development, human physiology and across academic disciplines.
  • GHP 301: “You Are What You Eat: Bio-Cultural Explorations of Food and Health” Why are people committed to the “Paleo” diet in the 21st Century? Why do we apply the title “comfort” to certain foods? This class will use anthropology as a platform to explore how diverse health outcomes are connected to the foods we do (and do not) eat. While we will consider how food is implicated in individual health outcomes (such as malnutrition and chronic disease), we will also explore food and diet at an evolutionary scale. Shaping these explorations will be a sharp critical lens that considers how culture shapes our perceptions of food and health and how power intersects in our ability to so access those needs and preferences.
  • ITA 319: “The Literature of Gastronomy”: This course studies Italian novels and short stories in English translation, works of visual art, and films which thematize food as reality and metaphor, examining how eating functions within ideological and mythological structures of modern society. Topics will include ‘Futurist’ cuisine as an aesthetic experience and a prophetic vision, writing during the war, and sublime and erotic cuisine.
  • ITA 401: “Seminar in Italian Literature and Culture – Italy: The Land of Slow-Food”: Combining an analysis of Italian literary texts with works of visual art, this course studies the art of cookery in relation to people’s environment and history. From Middle Ages to the 21st-century (Dante, Boccaccio, Michelangelo, Goldoni, d’Annunzio, Magris), topics will explore the conceptual preconditions that in recent years have generated the Slow-Food movement, its recycling of its own old traditions as well as its worldwide impact. This course examines food as a window into gender, class and traditions, where food is defined in terms of nutritional health and taste as well as social and ethical phenomena, such as the value of nature.
  • SOC 337/ENV 336: “Environment and Migration”: Environmental refugees leave their homes in response to earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, toxins, dams, and deforestation. Risk-mitigating farming households preemptively send family to seek jobs elsewhere, protecting against possible crop failure. In much of the world, households participate in cyclical or temporary migratory flows, driven by seasonality of the food supply. Students will become familiar with the manners in which environment drives migration and explore the potential for migration to impact the environment. Is vulnerability to environmental hazards distributed equitably across the world’s communities?

*this post was updated to reflect the name change from Food and Agriculture to Food and Environment.