Food Systems Curriculum – M.S.

Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon

Food Systems and Society Curriculum – M.S. Program Online at Marylhurst

Marylhurst’s food systems curriculum examine concepts, perspectives and strategies relevant to social change in the food system. The program integrates lived experience and academic scholarship. Through lenses of class, gender and race-ethnicity, you will analyze how social conditions in the food system developed. You will also study how they are addressed, perceived and portrayed. Students make an impact in their studies by contributing new knowledge to food systems equity and social change through a master’s thesis. This thesis project analyzes problems and proposes solutions.

Program Outcomes

As a Food Systems and Society graduate from Marylhurst, you will:

Identify and analyze societal factors in and perspectives on food system equity.

Expand critical thinking, collaboration and synthesis skills for engaging social change.

Develop and communicate knowledge about food systems equity and social change.

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Food Systems Curriculum & Degree Requirements: What You Will Study

To earn your Master of Science in Food Systems and Society from Marylhurst, you complete 48-52 quarter credits in a sequence of graduate courses that include a thesis. The food systems curriculum includes:

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Foundation Courses (20 credits)

As a part of your foundation course requirements, you will engage in thought provoking study, discussion and reflection of topics including food justice, discourse, food policy and politics, food in culture, social theory and critical inquiry.

Build a foundation for advanced academic engagement and inquiry in food systems and society. Establish academic inquiry skills and graduate-level reading and writing proficiency integral to FSS coursework.

Discuss the history, drivers and context of contemporary food system issues. Review the roles of discourse, ideology and epistemology in our understanding and shaping of the food system.

Discuss the roles of policy and politics in determining who eats, what we eat, and who benefits and loses in the current food system. Examine literature, policy and practice at various scales, focusing on social justice in the food system.

Discuss with peers the role of cultural meanings and practices in food systems through lenses of social equity. Investigate frameworks, issues and representations of race-ethnicity, class, and gender in historical and contemporary food systems. Examine how culture is transmitted and preserved through food, and how food functions both to foster community and to cultivate divisions among people.

This capstone graduate research seminar examines theories of and approaches to social change focusing on students’ thesis topics. You will develop presentation quality synopses based on research appropriate to your topic and audience. Learn methods of advancing social justice and social change in the food system through a dissemination/application project.

Explore theories from multiple disciplinary perspectives that are relevant to scholarship, movements, discourse and practice in food systems. Consider how to effectively apply theory and corresponding analytical frameworks to ask and answer questions about food systems and society, focusing on social justice and social change.

Examine social movements and strategies for social change in the food system. Explore public, private and nonprofit contexts to illustrate and analyze advocacy and activist strategies used by groups working for social justice and social change.

Examine concepts, perspectives and strategies relevant to social justice and social change in the food system.

Consider the role of scholarship in food system equity and social change. Through presentation and discussion of research, you will learn about a diverse array of topics and approaches as well as develop discursive strategies for engaging complex ideas and themes.

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Program Intensives (16 credits)

Participate in two required on-campus residency sessions throughout the full-time two-year online program. These sessions take place in the spring of your first and final years. Each residency lasts three-to-five days. While on campus you will meet with peers to engage in critical analysis, dialogue and collaborate on topics related to food systems and society. Many students also enjoy opportunities outside of courses to explore the food culture and activism of the Portland area.

Thesis (12-16 credits)

Within a sequence of thesis courses, you will explore contemporary issues in food systems and society within the context of thesis inquiry. Your selected thesis will address a subject or topic of interest to you that is relevant to equity and social change in the food system. As a student, you will benefit from faculty advisor support throughout the development of your thesis.

  • FSS 598 – 1 Thesis I
  • FSS 598 – 2 Thesis II
  • FSS 598 – 3 Thesis III
  • FSS 598 – 4 Thesis Continuation
  • FSS 598 – 9 Thesis Completion
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Ideas and Issues Presented Through Thesis

The ideas and issues explored within the food systems program turn into incredible theses that contribute knowledge about social justice in the food system and advance the knowledge, skills, and career paths of food system and society graduates. To get a better sense of what this program can do for you, seeing a sample of what recent graduates have done may help.

Examples of student work and queries:

  • Unsettling settler food movements: An exploration of coloniaism, food movements, and decolonization
  • Building Municipal Food Governance: A new potential for a coordinated and just food system across the country
  • An Exploration of Health and Nutrition Programs: Are Underlying Social Issues Recognized?
  • A Conceptual Framework for Analysis of Control and Value Distribution in Alternative Food Networks
  • Growing Food Banks? Securing the Food Insecurity Network
  • Voices and Arms: Women’s Movements and Food Sovereignty
  • Fighting the Good Fight: Food Banks as Social Justice Advocates?
  • Social Justice Inquiry into Sustainable Food and Agriculture: And Exploratory Analysis into Definition, Projects, and Funding Frameworks
  • Addressing Food Justice: Oregon Farm to School Program Implementation
  • Healthy Food on Wheels: An Exploration of Mobile Produce Markets through a Food Justice Lens
  • An Analysis of Farm Labor Depiction: Is the Local Food Movement Perpetuating Farmworker Injustice?
  • An Exploratory Analysis of Culinary Educators’ Constructs

Low-Residency, Online Format 

The Marylhurst Food Systems and Society program is offered in an accessible, online format mixed with short, weekend campus sessions. In the two year program, the majority of your courses are online. Each year in the fall and spring, you will spend one weekend on our beautiful campus networking and collaborating with fellow students and faculty. These weekend sessions offer in-depth dives into course content and scholarly research. They also offer you the opportunity to form career networks and partnerships with thought leaders within the food systems community.

Meet Kayla – Food Systems and Society ’16

Kayla Byers, Class of 2016, Marylhurst UniversityImmediately after earning her M.S. in Food Systems and Society from Marylhurst University, Kayla Byers is a contributing voice in the social justice movement within our food system. Kayla credits her ability to converse at the global level to the knowledge and experience she accrued through collaboration with her Marylhurst M.S. in Food Systems and Society cohort.

Read about Kayla’s recent experience and presentation at the 2016 XIV World Congress of Rural Sociology conference and her plans to continue to contribute globally. Read more…

Get More Information

Ready to further discuss whether or not the Marylhurst Food Systems and Society program is right for you? Connect with one of our graduate admissions counselors who can answer your questions, email you more information and share steps to get started.

Or, Explore the MS in Food Systems & Society Further