There’s a new class at the University of Kentucky that students are just going to eat up.
It’s called “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the U.S. South.”
That’s right. A class about tacos.
But it’s not as crazy as it sounds, nor is it a class where students learn how to perfectly layer a taco. Steven Alvarez, an assistant professor for the school’s digital studies department, said the class aims to teach people about the history of food and how people make social connections through food, Elite Daily reported.
“Part of it was my involvement with the Southern Foodways Alliance. After going to one of their symposiums, it really hit me that food is important,” he said, according to Elite Daily. “The oral histories of food that I heard were amazing. The stories were really impactful but the food became secondary. It was more about the social connections that people were making with food. This class allows our students to explore the issues of immigration, inequality, workers, intercultural communication, and literacy through the prism of food.”
Students learn all about how to report and review food, whether in person or on social media, too. They’re becoming experts, Elite Daily reported.
And it has worked so far, Alvarez said. He’s seen students who hate writing feel inspired to write about food.
“Finally, a college class with some meat (and cheese, and tomatoes and lettuce, and beans and guac) to it,” Elite Daily wrote.
This isn’t the first food-centered class to make its way to college. In 2014, Paul Smith’s College in New York started a brewing class, and Pizza Hut has partnered with Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom to have a class about pizza-making, Fox News reported.
Like the University of Kentucky class, New York University has a “Food Photography” class, where food studies majors at NYU can take photos of their plates to learn more about how visuals can be used to talk about food, Mashable reported.
And while Alfred University’s “Maple Syrup: The Real Thing” class teaches students about the history of maple syrup, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s “Food and Power in the Twentieth Century” class teaches the history of food making and how it’s affected political and social issues.
Not to be outdone, Harvard has a class called “Science and Cooking,” which literally teaches the physics and science behind cooking, Mashable reported.
These classes are a part of the latest trend of college degree programs embracing foodie culture. In total, about 30 college across the United States have food studies programs with these sort of classes, The Los Angeles Times reported. Some classes take students out to farms to learn about food production, while others, like those listed above, focus on specific foods and how they’re made.
Of course, not all professors are on board. Krishnendu Ray, president of the Association for the study of Food and Society, told The LA Times that some researchers and school officials don’t feel food culture is a legitimate area of study, and is really just a way for schools to attract students.
But Ray disagrees.
“Universities try to elbow into a crowded marketplace,” he said. “They are seeking to do something new and make a mark in a field of knowledge not dominated by someone else.”