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Food and Society: Meanings, Desires, and Relationships LIBS 7016

Liberal Studies Course

International Fees

International fees are typically three times the amount of domestic fees. Exact cost will be calculated upon completion of registration.

Course details

Food is essential for human life. The expression "we are what we eat" invites further attention to the ways food connects us to places, people, histories, cultures, and identities. Eating is driven not only by biological processes but also by psychological and social processes. Food can be viewed as a tangible material object as well as a manifestation of particular ideas, values, and practices. Food can be debated as a product of nature and a product of human or technological interventions. The course locates the study of food at some of these crossroads. Students will examine what food reveals or conceals about interpersonal, societal, technological, and environmental relationships. Students will explore how food keeps company with the senses, emotions, passion, desire, memory, and power. Students will reflect on how food (or the lack of food) conveys oppositional meanings such as love and rejection, reward and punishment, illness and health, celebration and grief, or conflict and resolution. Course material will open up interdisciplinary approaches drawn from the humanities and social sciences related to the study of food within and across societies. Representations, symbolism, and meanings of food in literary, artistic, and multimedia works will also be discussed. Course material may include a range of time periods and cultures.


  • BCIT ENGL 1177, or 6 credits BCIT Communication at 1100-level or above, or 3 credits of a university/college first-year social science or humanities course.



Not offered this term
This course is not offered this term. Please check back next term or subscribe to receive notifications of future course offerings and other opportunities to learn more about this course and related programs.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, the student will be able to:

  • Identify and analyze larger social meanings of food within and across cultures.
  • Explain how food shapes understandings and depictions of individual and cultural identities.
  • Analyze some of the interpersonal, emotional, and symbolic meanings of food.
  • Examine how food evokes various kinds of memories of people, places, histories, relationships, or cultures.
  • Discuss how food conveys oppositional meanings, marks boundaries, but also cuts across boundaries.
  • Interpret central ideas and meanings about food in particular food-themed literary, artistic, and multimedia representations.
  • Identify key arguments arising from the study of the history of particular foods.
  • Explain and critically analyze some of the political and economic concerns related to the production, marketing, and consumption of food.
  • Investigate arguments about the roles food plays in private and public domains, ranging from arguments involving bodies, diets, and health, to arguments involving food-based social events, and ecological or environmental movements.
  • Identify, explain, and apply concepts, frameworks, and perspectives on the study of food drawn from the humanities and social sciences.
  • Critically engage with some of the main questions, controversies, and paradoxes arising from the study of food in society.
  • Apply interdisciplinary perspectives on food and society in relation to the student’s own experience, work, and study.

Effective as of Fall 2013

Related Programs

Food and Society: Meanings, Desires, and Relationships (LIBS 7016) is offered as a part of the following programs:

School of Business + Media

  1. Accounting
    Bachelor of Accounting Full-time/Part-time
  2. Bachelor of Business Administration
    Bachelor of Business Administration Full-time/Part-time


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