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GSCI / FSST 325: The Science of Italian Food

Course Description
Students will learn and test basic scientific concepts through the broad lens of food. Scientific concepts will be derived from various scientific fields such as biology, microbiology, and chemistry. Students will examine various processes for preparing and storing food, such as fermentation and preserving, in historical contexts. The course has both a classroom and a lab component. Students will alternate between learning scientific processes in a classroom setting and doing experiments in the didactic kitchen. Improving the sustainability of food production and food systems will be discussed throughout the course. In this course, students will engage with peer-reviewed literature and will analyze and disseminate the results of scientific studies. The overall goal is to learn about the interconnectivity of science, culture and the environment through the exploration of basic food processes. No prior scientific knowledge is necessary for this course.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Define basic chemical, biochemical, and microbiological transformations important for food production.
  • Apply knowledge of food processes to food science experiments.
  • Examine the overlap of chemistry and sustainability in food systems vis-á-vis ingredient substitutions.
  • Articulate the historical and cultural contexts for food processes in Italy.
  • Engage in experiential learning activities and practice systematic research and ethical scholarship.

Course Materials

Mandatory course reader

All assigned readings will be in the course reader. This includes articles from various peer-reviewed journals as well as selections from On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Harold McGee), Food Science, An Ecological Approach (Sari Edelstein), and The Oxford Companion to Italian Food (Gillian Riley).

Students will be required to maintain a recipe journal during the semester.

Course Fee
$50.00 – Includes materials and ingredients for nine food labs