CPT-56806 Embodiment, Food & Environment


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work4
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. H Maat
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. CN van der Weele
dr. K Doughty
prof. dr. P Macnaghten
prof. dr. EWML de Vet
dr. ir. H Maat
Examiner(s)dr. ir. H Maat

Language of instruction:



Embodiment is about experiences that creep under the skin and, vice versa, it is about how our body as an integrated system responds to other people and the immediate environment. In various disciplines, different theories developed about embodiment. Social-psychologists emphasize mind-body interactions, e.g. feelings-as-information theories or 'off-line' mental processes. Such notions are often applied in consumer studies and public health. Social theories stress socially patterned ways of sensing, informative for understanding how people perceive nature. Anthropologists have theorized about skill-based action, helpful to analyse how technologies are used. In philosophy the body is construed by Plato as a prison of the soul, an idea contested in modern philosophy. In the course these and other perspectives are presented and discussed. Cases and examples are selected from food production, cooking, food consumption, nature and environment. Students are encouraged to experience embodiment in concrete activities, for example a walk in nature or prepare and eat food. The course is aimed for advanced Master students and PhD candidates in various fields, most prominently the social sciences, environmental sciences, food and nutrition sciences.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand and explain the way mind and body interact;
- understand and reflect on how embodiment is conceptualized and applied in different disciplines and scholarly fields;
- evaluate the benefits and limitations of the presented embodiment approaches;
- analyse real-life experiences related to food and environment.


1. six writing assignments (80%);
2. design and presentation of practical assignments (20%).
Each component requires a minimum of 5.5 to pass. In case of a small number of participants, both elements are combined. The second component is not separately assessed when the number of participating students is  less than 15. With less than 15 participants, assessment of 2. is included in 1.


Ph. MacNaghten (2003), Embodying the environment in everyday life practices. The Sociological Review 51, 63-841.
M. Mauss, Techniques of the body. In: N. Schlanger ed. (2006), Marcel Mauss. Techniques, Technology and Civilisation.New York, Durkheim Press/Oxford, Berghahn Books.
C. van der Weele (2006), Food Metaphors and Ethics: Towards more Attention for Bodily Experience. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 19:313-324.
M. Wilson (2002), Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 9, 625-636.