Programs

This page provides information on the required curriculum for the Gastronomy MLA degree and the Food Studies Certificate.  For specific questions, please email gastrmla@bu.edu.

Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy degree

Master of Liberal Arts in GastronomyBoston University’s Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy program offers a rigorous, interdisciplinary approach to food studies that pairs opportunities for experiential learning in culinary arts laboratories, wine studies courses, and classroom lab activities with a core curriculum based in the liberal arts. Students in the Gastronomy program hone the critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills necessary to tackle today’s complex food issues, and develop a deep understanding of food in the context of arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

The interplay of research, reading, and writing about food, combined with the process of exploring food through the senses, gives the program exceptional depth. Students engage with distinguished scholars and academic departments across BU’s 17 schools and colleges, as well as with renowned visiting faculty and notable food industry professionals, developing the practical and theoretical expertise required for working in food-related industries, governance, and non-profit organizations.


Candidates for the MLA in Gastronomy must complete a minimum of 40 credits, including 16 credits from four required core courses:

History is part of a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to food studies. Our goals in reading history include understanding the ways in which the history of food has shaped our world today and examining ways in which contemporary questions and problems inform historical inquiries. Course readings address some of the ways in which food has influenced human history, particularly at crucial turning points -- for example, the rise of the first civilizations and the European discovery of the Americas. We will also study selected past events and societies through the lens of food and foodways. The topics chosen for the course are presented in thematic and geographic categories, rather than in strict chronological order. The themes are divided among three encompassing meta-themes: Technology & Nature, Mobility, and Culture & Cuisine. These meta-themes will help us to move from the details of our specific weekly topics to their meanings in relationship to larger forces in world history. Students will learn about historical methodology and apply it to their own research.

What can food tell us about human culture and social organization? Food offers us many opportunities to explore the ways in which humans go about their daily lives from breaking bread at the family table, haggling over the price of meat at the market to worrying about having enough to eat. Food can also tell us about larger social organizations and global interconnections through products like Spam that are traded around the globe and the ways in which a fruit like the tomato transformed the culinary culture of European nations. In this course we will consider how the Anthropology of Food has developed as a subfield of Cultural Anthropology. We will also look at the various methodologies and theoretical frameworks used by anthropologists to study food and culture. 4 cr.

This course is designed to introduce students to current and foundational issues and methods in food studies and gastronomy. Through readings, discussions, and research, students will gain familiarity with major topics, issues, and debates in the field. They will become proficient at identifying and putting into practice different methods in food studies research and in understanding how to communicate across disciplines. This course will give Gastronomy students a better understanding of the field as a whole. While providing an overview and methodological toolbox, it will act as a springboard in to areas of specialization of the course.

This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the sensory foundations and implications of food. We will study the senses as physical and cultural phenomena, the evolving concepts of terroir and craft, human nutritional and behavioral science, sensory perception and function, and the sensory and scientific aspects of food preparation and consumption. Understanding these processes, constructions and theories is key to understanding a vast array of food-related topics; cheese-making, wine-tasting, fermentation, food preservation, culinary tools and methods, cravings and food avoidance, sustainability and terroir, to name just a few.

 

Focus Areas

The remaining 24 credits are completed with elective courses, offered in the Spring and Fall Semesters, as well as during Summer Term. Within the elective credit requirement, students may choose to complete one or more of the following 8-credit focus areas:

METML614 Philosophy of Food (4 credits)

"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."-- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) In this course, we will use the tools of the philosopher to study various aspects of food--its classification, preparation, consumption, and judgments about the practices affected by it. The focus in this course will be how philosophers contribute to food studies through engagement with long-standing philosophical questions--not just in aesthetics, moral and political philosophy, but also in metaphysics and epistemology. Topics addressed in the class may include foods as natural (or non-natural) kinds; cultural knowledge, know-how and food traditions; eating and identity; eating, rationality and norms; vegetarianism and moral philosophy; and neuroscience, culture and taste.

METML620 Food and Literature (4 credits)

Through analysis of literary texts, gourmet guidebooks, paintings, and illustrations, the course maps out and examines questions that have an enduring cultural resonance today, including moral concepts of gluttony and temperance; parallels between appetite and sexuality; and the significance of the terroir or local production. Course explores key events and texts that altered the perception of the gourmand and contributed to the development of gastronomy as an autonomous cultural field.

METML631 Culture and Cuisine: France (4 credits)

The association between France and fine cuisine seems so "natural." French society and history are intertwined with the culinary, and have been since the court society of the Old Regime. After the French Revolution, French cuisine became a truly modern affair in the public sphere. The invention of the restaurant, the practice of gastronomy, a literature of food, and strong links between French cuisine and national identity all came together in the 19th century. In the 19th and 20th centuries, French food, featuring both haute cuisine and regional culinary specialties, was widely considered the world's best. In the 20th century, the culinary allure of France continued to fascinate people all over the world. It is still said today, enviously, that the French really know how to appreciate good food and wine "la bonne chere" in their daily lives. This course looks at how the history of French culinary culture evolved in the particular way that it did. The course is organized largely chronologically, but not entirely, as some of the readings weave issues of different times periods thematically. In studying culture and cuisine, with France as a great example, we will explore the relationship between a place, a people, and their foodways. We launch our investigation with the question: how and why is this relationship distinctive in France?

METML632 History of Wine (4 credits)

In this course we explore the long and complex role wine has played in the history of human civilization. We survey significant developments in the production, distribution, consumption and cultural uses of grape-based alcoholic beverages in the West. We study the economic impact of wine production and consumption from the ancient Near East through the Roman Empire, Europe in the Middle Ages and especially wine's significance in the modern and contemporary world. Particular focus is on wine as a religious symbol, a symbol of status, an object of trade and a consumer beverage in the last few hundred years.

METML633 Readings in Food History (4 credits)

A comparative perspective on issues of human subsistence through time. Changing patterns of nutrition and health, agricultural production, methods of coping with famine and organizing feasts, and origins and impact of culinary and dietary innovations.

METML638 Culture and Cuisine: New England (4 credits)

How are the foodways of New England's inhabitants, past and present, intertwined with the history and culture of this region? In this course, students will have the opportunity to examine the cultural uses and meanings of foods and foodways in New England using historical, archaeological, oral, and material evidence. We will focus on key cultural, religious and political movements that have affected foodways in the region, as well as the movement of people.

METML672 Food and Art  (4 credits)

Focusing on the dialogue between gastronomy and art, from antiquity to the present, this seminar offers students the opportunity to research the work of artists who represented food, drink, harvest and hunger, the role of the decorative arts in dining and the relationship of national traditions of art and cuisine. Students test the validity of analogies that scholars have drawn between developments in the two areas of endeavor. Uncharted areas of affinity linking art and cuisine are explored. Providing an introduction to fundamental aspects of the art historical periods in question, the course is designed to accommodate students without previous formal study of art history. Those with prior experience in the discipline will be given new purchase on the art.

METAD648 Ecommerce (4 credits)

Provides a detailed examination of how businesses can successfully use Internet and Web technology. Students are introduced to the concepts and issues of electronic commerce. Topics include comparison of e-commerce procedures, payment mechanisms, applications in different industry sectors, security, the challenges of starting and maintaining an electronic business site, as well as a comparison with traditional business practices.

METAD741 The Innovation Process: Developing New Products and Services (4 credits)

Addresses the specifics of new product and service development and fostering innovation and technology to increase performance. Topics include generating and screening initial ideas; assessing user needs and interests; forecasting results; launching, and improving products and programs; bringing innovation to commercial reality.

METML610 Special Topics in Gastronomy (4 credits)

ML610 is the designation for "Special Topics in Gastronomy". The subject matter for ML610 courses changes from semester to semester, and more than one ML610 can be offered in a given semester. Course descriptions for all ML610 sections are listed below. For more information, please contact the department Graduate Student Advisor.

Spring 2018: "Culture and Cuisine of India"

Food is one of the most attractive features of Indian culture, yet remains poorly represented and understood in the mainstream U. S. This course will explore Indian food in a cultural context, focusing on themes include modes and techniques of food preparation and consumption, feasting and fasting traditions, food and religion/divinity, dietary taboos and food as medicine. The study of ingredients will look at biological and cultural exchanges stemming from historic trade routes and invasions. The course will also explore foodways, street food and the representation of food in Indian film, music and language.

METML655 Planning a Food Business (4 credits)

Whatever type of food-related business you want to start, you will need expert advice to plan and launch. This course will guide you through the process of developing and realizing your business idea. Guest speakers from the food industry will share hands- on knowledge and insights. In this section you will focus on writing a business plan utilizing the Lean Canvas methodology (leanstack.com). Grading is based on attendance, participation and completing a Lean Canvas.

METML692 Evaluating and Developing Markets for Cultural Tourism (4 credits)

Cultural tourism in the 21st century is more than the traditional passive activities of visiting a museum, hearing a concert or strolling down an historic street. It has become an active, dynamic branch of tourism in which half of all tourists have stated that they want some cultural activities during their vacation. In this course we will introduce various themes of cultural tourism including the relationship between the Tourist Industry and the Cultural Heritage Manager, conservation and preservation vs. utilization of a cultural asset, authenticity vs. commoditization, stakeholders and what should be their rights and obligations, tangible and intangible tourist assets, the role of government, private industry and the non-profit sectors in tourism planning and sustainable economic development. We will examine these themes in different areas of cultural tourism including the art industry, historical sites, cultural landmarks, special events and festivals, theme parks and gastronomy.

METAD670 Creative Multimedia: Tools, Design, and Application (4 credits)

Prereq: MET AD648
Introduces creative aspects of Web design using application programs such as Flash and Rixio/Adobe Multimedia. Students will have an opportunity to develop applications that integrate text content with video, digital photographs, computer animation, and computer graphics for website enhancement. This course will also focus on the exploration of a range of issues such as principles of good Web design and use of multimedia/Flash in major business applications. Students will create projects that integrate digital media, digital sound, and computer animation for e-learning, e-commerce, and related application areas.

METML615 Reading and Writing the Food Memoir (4 credits)

Course involves critical reading and writing and examines the food memoir as a literary genre. Students gain familiarity with food memoir, both historical and current; learn how memoir differs from other writing about food and from autobiography; learn to attend to style and voice; consider the use writers make of memory; consider how the personal (story) evokes the larger culture.

METML671 Food and Visual Culture (4 credits)

An extensive historical exploration into prints, drawings, film, television, and photography relating to food in the United States and elsewhere. Examines how food images represent aesthetic concerns, social habits, demographics, domestic relations, and historical trends.

METML681 Food Writing for the Media (4 credits)

Students will develop and improve food-writing skills through the study of journalistic ethics; advertising; scientific and technological matters; recipe writing; food criticism; anthropological and historical writing about food; food in fiction, magazines and newspapers.

METML691 Nutrition and Diet: Why What You Eat Matters (4 credits)

This course is designed to introduce major concepts in nutrition and diet to students of food studies and other disciplines who have limited or no background in the biological sciences. The overarching goal is to develop a working understanding of the basic science of nutrition and apply this knowledge to personal health and professional settings. The course begins with the fundamentals of nutrition and diet, focusing on macro- and micronutrient intakes and needs throughout the life course. Food-based nutrition will also be discussed, alongside dietary guidelines, recommendations, and food labels. Moving from the individual level to the larger public health arena, we will also examine such topics as nutritional ecology, influences on dietary intakes, overnutrition, and undernutrition. A running theme throughout will be critiquing how diet and nutrition are treated in the media and press.

METML719 Food Values: Local to Global Food Policy, Practice, and Performance (4 credits)

Reviews various competing and sometimes conflicting frameworks for assessing what are "good" foods. Examines what global, national, state, and local food policies can do to promote the production and consumption of these foods. Participants learn how to conceptualize, measure, and assess varying ecological, economic, nutritional, health, cultural, political, and justice claims. Students analyze pathways connecting production and consumption of particular foodstuffs in the U.S. and the world. Emphasis is on comparative food systems and food value chains, and the respective institutional roles of science and technology, policy, and advocacy in shaping food supply and demand.

METML720 Food Policy and Food Systems (4 credits)

This course presents frameworks and case studies that will advance participants' understandings of U.S. and global food systems and policies. Adopting food-systems and food-chain approaches, it provides historical, cultural, theoretical and practical perspectives on world food problems and patterns of dietary and nutritional change, so that participants acquire a working knowledge of the ecology and politics of world hunger and understand the evolution of global-to-local food systems and diets. Global overview of world food situations will be combined with more detailed national and local-level case studies and analysis that connect global to local food crisis and responses.

METML721 US Food Policy and Culture (4 credits)

This course overviews the forces shaping U.S. food policies, cultural politics, diet, and nutrition situations in the twenty-first century. After reviewing the history of U.S. domestic food policy, course discussions consider globalization, new agricultural and food technologies, new nutrition knowledge, immigration, and "sustainable-food" ideology as drivers of American dietary and food-regulatory change. "Food systems," "food chains," and "dietary structure" provide the major analytical frameworks for tracing how food moves from farm to table, and the role of local through national government and non-government institutions in managing these food flows.


For a complete list of courses, click here.

Culinary Arts certificate programAdditionally, Boston University’s Culinary Arts certificate program and Beverage Studies courses, organized by the Programs in Food and Wine, are available to matriculated students for elective credits.

Candidates for the MLA in Gastronomy with a qualifying GPA of 3.7 are eligible to complete an 8-credit master’s thesis, advised by a full-time member of the Boston University faculty.

The Gastronomy program is available to both part-time and full-time students. Most classes are offered in the evening, meeting one day per week, from 6 to 9 p.m. Part-time students (registered for fewer than 12 credits per semester) pay tuition based on a per-credit-hour fee. Part-time students can finish the degree in approximately two years (8 credits in each Fall and Spring Semester, and 8 credits during Summer Term).  Full-time students register for up to 16 credits per semester. Full-time students can complete the degree in one calendar year (two full-time semesters, plus 8 credits as a part-time student).

Graduate Certificate in Food Studies

Food Studies Certificate

The 16-credit Graduate Certificate in Food Studies is an opportunity for those who may not be in a position to commit to a full degree program to advance their career in the field. Students who complete the Graduate Certificate in Food Studies and who have been accepted into the MLA in Gastronomy program may apply 16 credits toward their degree requirements. The certificate can be completed on a part-time basis in one year by taking two courses per semester. Occasional courses are offered online for students who wish to complete their certificate away from campus. Look for sections “OL” or “EL” in the course descriptions. Certificate students may choose from a wide range of courses, with the exception of culinary, wine, and cheese courses.  To view a list of courses, click here.

Course offerings for MLA and certificate students are enhanced by regular guest lectures and special events, as well as the Jacques Pépin Lecture Series, co-hosted by Programs in Food and Wine and the Gastronomy program. Students are also able to take advantage of the many academic and cultural resources in the Boston area, including lectures and conferences at other area universities and access to significant library and archival collections.