RSO-33306 Food, Health and Society: An Integrated Socio-Political Perspective


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work1
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. JAB Duncan
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. JSC Wiskerke
dr. JAB Duncan
Examiner(s)dr. JAB Duncan
prof. dr. ir. JSC Wiskerke

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Some social sciences background on health and/or food through course work or equivalent.


This course looks into the relation between food, health and wellbeing from a sociological and political point of view. It discusses how (un)healthy eating is embedded in social structures and framed through political choices made in various policy domains such as agriculture, health, environment and spatial planning. It addresses food security and the accessibility of (fresh and nutritious) food, which is a socio-political issue in 'developed' as well as 'developing' countries. Its relation to inequalities in income and public spending is widely recognized. More recently attention is given to how 'food systems' directly and indirectly affect citizens' health through their effect on the quality of the living environment in rural as well as urban contexts.
In most countries 'food', 'health' and 'the environment' are dealt with and governed in and by separate policy domains and institutions. In areas of metropolitan agglomerations, however, there is raising awareness of the interrelation between food, health and environment, resulting in manifold new forms of coordination and cooperation transgressing the traditional boundaries of policy-domains, actors as well as authorities. The emergence of food policy councils and urban food strategies is a clear indication of this.
Hence, there is an increasing need to study and govern food, health, environment and society from an integrated and territorial point of view.
This course aims to enhance students' understanding of the socio-political aspects that influence the interrelations between food, health, environment and society and that are reflected in traditional as well as novel governance arrangements.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand and explain the process of (food) policymaking and governance;
- understand and explain the socio-technical relation between food-systems, health and the environment;
- understand and explain how ecological, social, cultural and political factors influence (un)healthy eating in 'developed' and 'developing' countries;
- critically evaluate food policies with regards to interpretations of the problem, their assumptions and effects on the current food system, the environment, and society at large;
- apply stakeholder- and problem analysis to existing policies and new forms of coordination;
- formulate recommendations addresses the challenges of health, environment and social justice.


- lectures and guest lectures;
- group assignments.


60% Final Exam, 30% Group Assignments (10% x 3 assignments), 10% participation.


During the course scientific articles and other material will be made available.

Restricted Optional for: MCHCommunication, Health and Life SciencesMScB: Spec. B. - Health and Society4WD