ENVIRON 462 - Topics in Environmental Social Science
Fall 2022, Section 004 - Food Policy
Instruction Mode: Section 004 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Program in the Environment (ENVIRON)
Department: SNE Program in the Environment
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
At least one environmentally related course prior to this class.
May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit(s).
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:


Not everyone has equal access to abundant, healthy, diverse and affordable food. What factors influence who eats, what we eat and why we eat it? A powerful set of political, economic, social, environmental, and cultural factors motivate this most fundamental of human actions, eating! This course is an in-depth exploration of the complex system that shapes food systems at all scales: from farm to table, from local to global. We explore the politics and economics underlying public policies surrounding the production, processing, transportation, marketing and consumption of food. We consider how policies affect the environment, human health and well-being, giving special attention to the ways in which food policy can exacerbate or mitigate inequality. The course has four parts: Fundamentals of Food Production and Consumption; Political Economy of Food; How Food Policy Uplifts and Oppresses; and Wicked Problems for Food Policy.

The class will tackle several challenging questions including:

• What is the current state of food security in local and global context?

• How will demographic changes influence global supply and demand for food?

• What role do subsidies and trade policy play in shaping the supply and demand for food?

• Who governs food and agriculture locally and globally?

• What technological options are there for solving the problem of feeding the global population?

• How have the agribusiness, fast food, supermarket, and on-line shopping industries shaped public policy discourse and consumer behavior?

• Why do we observe the paradox of hunger and obesity in the same context?

• Does being a vegetarian or vegan, eating local, eating organic, and eating slow, catalyze policy change?

• How can we sustain current food supply given the constraints imposed by environmental degradation, water scarcity and climate change?

To explore these questions we give concerted attention to three kinds of food policy discourse:

• The analytical discourse of scientists (agricultural, social etc.) whose research contributes to solving food centered public policy problems;

• The discourse of policy makers charged with making decisions about how to influence actions for the public good in local, national and global food systems; and

• Advocacy narratives from a range of stakeholders used to influence food policy, food producers, and food consumers.

By the end of this course, students will be able to analyze and interrogate scholarship, policy dialogues, about popular press/social media claims about food policy and its expected outcomes. This is a reading and discussion intensive class.

Intended Audience:

Concentrators in any field of study are welcome, especially those who are interested in environmental and/or public health issues and seek to improve their analytical, writing and communication skills.

Class Format:

Learning Mode: All class meetings will be taught synchronously and In-Person for the Fall 2021 term.

Instruction Mode: The class meets synchronously, twice a week in person for 80 minutes.


ENVIRON 462 - Topics in Environmental Social Science
Schedule Listing
004 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
005 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
006 (SEM)
 In Person
Th 6:00PM - 7:30PM
007 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for ENVIRON 462.004

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for ENVIRON 462 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)