Food Studies Initiative

About the Food Studies Initiative

The USD Food Studies Initiative (FSI) seeks to engage the entire USD community on urgent questions concerning food, generating a scientifically informed and justice-oriented approach to food on campus that aligns with all Six Pathways of USD’s strategic plan: serving as an anchor institution, supporting engaged scholarship, promoting changemaking, increasing access and inclusion, advocating for care for our common home, and exemplifying liberal arts in the 21st century.

At the foundation of the FSI is a commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship that empowers community members to analyze and respond to racism, especially anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, colonialism, climate change, violence to animals, and the ways in which all these issues often intersect in questions of food justice and food sovereignty. The FSI will bring together longstanding faculty strengths at USD that utilize food as vehicle for science education, for advancing more ethical supply chains, and for socially engaged scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.  

Ultimately, the FSI wants to shape the USD campus into a model of how universities can leverage food scholarship and food services—including USD’s own food supply chains—to build community on and off campus and establish more engaged and ethical foodways.

The immediate goals of FSI leadership include (1) creating democratic and transparent processes to govern important areas of our work, like a curriculum committee that will develop a food studies minor, (2) executing a Speaker Series that will run through 2022 in partnership with the nonprofit Farm Forward, and (3) creating opportunities for USD students, staff, and faculty to raise their voices and get involved.

We encourage you to join our mailing list and add your name to the list of USD community members supporting FSI—which already includes 35 faculty and staff from more than a dozen departments across the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the School of Engineering, as well as leadership from Mulvaney Center for Community Awareness, The Changemaker Hub, and the Center for Inclusion and Diversity. To join, email FSI Program Manager John Millspaugh at

Food-Related Courses at USD


A sampling of food-related courses offered Spring 2021:

  • Anthropology 315: Modern Human Variation (Jennifer Parkinson)
  • Biology 113: Plants and People (Marcelle M. Darby)
  • Chemistry 102: Science of Food and Cooking (Ashley L. Corrigan Steffey)
  • Chemistry 494: Biochemistry of Food and Cooking (Joseph J Provost)
  • Education Recreation 148: Virtual Nutrition & Personal Wellness (Lisa L. Taylor)
  • Engineering 110: The Design of Coffee (Shai S. Cohen, Giovanni G. Facco, and Samuel D. Fleischman)
  • Engineering 315: Coffee: Engineering, the Global Industry and Social Justice  (Truc T. Ngo)
  • English 230: Food, Love, and Stories (Koonyong Kim)
  • Italian 202: Four Semester Italian: Food, Diversity, Culture (Brittany K. Asaro)
  • Philosophy 321: Social Ethics (Holly M. Hamilton-Bleakley)
  • Political Science 346: Food and Politics (Andrew Tirrell)
  • Theology & Religious Studies 313: Jewish Faith and Practice (Aaron S. Gross)
  • Theology & Religious Studies 334: Christian Social Ethics (Christopher Carter)

A sampling of food-related courses offered Fall 2020:

  • Biology 113: Plants and People (Marcelle M. Darby)
  • Chemistry 102: Science of Food and Cooking (Ashley L. Corrigan Steffey)
  • Environmental & Ocean Sciences 531: Human Impacts on the Coastal Environment (Steven P. Searcy)
  • Honors 318: Conceptions of Nature (Christopher R. Carter)
  • Law General 510: Animal Law (Laurence P. Claus)
  • Philosophy 116: Morality and Justice (Matthew D. Wion)
  • Philosophy 118: Philosophy Through Food (Nicholas A. Riggle)
  • Philosophy 321: Social Ethics (Holly M. Hamilton-Bleakley)
  • Political Science 494: Politics and Animals (Jonathan D. Wadley)
  • Spanish 440: Food and Politics in Spain (Rebecca E. Ingram)
  • Theology & Religious Studies 232: Religion and Animals (Aaron S. Gross)

Faculty and Staff Interested in the Food Studies Initiative

Christopher Carter, PhD headshot Christopher Carter, PhD (FSI Co-Organizer) Click here to access my profile.
Christopher Carter is an Assistant Professor of social ethics in the Theology and Religious Studies Department at USD. His teaching, research, and activist interests are in Black, Womanist, and Environmental ethics, with a particular focus on race, food, and nonhuman animals. Food-related courses he teaches include "Religion & Food" and "Conceptions of Nature: Race, Faith, Food, & Politics." He is the author of The Spirit of Soul Food; Race, Faith, & Food Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2021) and co-editor of The Future of Meat Without Animals (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016). Carter co-leads the Food Studies Initiative.
Aaron Gross, PhD headshot Aaron Gross, PhD (FSI Co-Organizer) Click here to access my profile.
Aaron Gross is a Professor of comparative religion and Jewish studies in the Theology and Religious Studies Department at USD and the Founder of the nonprofit organizations Farm Forward and the Better Food Foundation. His research considers the religious and ethical dimensions of food in both the United States and India, with special attention to animals, animality, and race. Food-related courses he teaches include Religion and Food, and Religion and Animals. He is the author of The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications (Columbia University Press 2014) and co-editor of Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food (New York University Press 2019). Gross co-leads the Food Studies Initiative.
Nick Riggle, PhD headshot Nick Riggle, PhD (FSI Co-Organizer) Click here to access my profile.
Nick Riggle is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Philosophy Department at USD. His specialty is aesthetics and the philosophy of art, and his research focuses on the nature and importance of aesthetic value. He regularly teaches Philosophy Through Food (PHIL 118), an introduction to philosophy that focuses throughout on food—the metaphysics of food and flavor, the ethics of eating animals, the epistemology of blind tasting, the aesthetics of food, and the politics of global hunger. He is the author of On Being Awesome: A Unified Theory of How Not to Suck (Penguin 2017) and co-author of Aesthetic Life and Why It Matters (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Riggle co-leads the Food Studies Initiative.
Caroline Baillie, PhD headshot Caroline Baillie, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Caroline Baillie is Professor of Praxis in Engineering and Social Justice in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering. She also directs a 503(c)3 entitled Waste for Life which supports communities to create waste-based businesses by upcycling waste (which often includes food and agricultural by-products and packaging). She is currently co-teaching a class on social and environmental injustices in the coffee industry. 
Corey Barnes, PhD headshot Corey Barnes, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Corey Barnes is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at USD. His research focuses on the philosophy of race, Alain Locke, and cosmopolitanism. Food-inclusive courses that he teaches include The Philosophy of Race, Cosmopolitanism, and Morality and Justice. He is the author of “Imperatives of Peace: A Lockean Justification for Cosmopolitan Principles,” and the forthcoming “An Account of Normative Stereotyping,” “Alain Locke’s Critical Pragmatism,” and Cosmopolitan Democracy: Alain Locke on the Foundations for a Just and Successful Peace (Palgrave McMillan).
Adina Batnitzky, PhD headshot Adina Batnitzky, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Adina  Batnitzky is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at USD. Her research and professional experiences have all revolved around the intersection of gender, health and labor in a global/transnational context. Food-related courses she teaches include Health and Society and Work and Labor. Her research has been presented and published widely in peer-reviewed journals including Sociology of Health and Illness, Health and Place, Gender, Work and Organization. A former board member for Slow Food Urban San Diego and building on her Peace Corps service in Morocco, Batnitzky remains committed to community service, working collaboratively with diverse community actors, as well as students from diverse backgrounds to better understand issues related to food justice.
Jessica Bell, PhD headshot Jessica Bell, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Jessica K. Bell is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at USD.  Her research considers host-pathogen interactions with a special emphasis on cellular responses to viral infection and defining the how and why of cellular responses initiated to defend the host.  Bell's pedagogical research focuses on the integration of teaching and research through course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) and, in particular, the identification of essential elements of a CURE that lead to student STEM success and persistence.  Food-related courses she teaches include the Science of Food and Cooking.
Michel Boudrias, PhD headshot Michel Boudrias, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Dr. Michel Boudrias is an Associate Professor in Environmental and Ocean Sciences. He teaches courses in environmental issues, sustainability, and coastal environmental science.  His primary research focuses on long-term ecological studies of shallow-water coastal habitats impacted by human activities in San Diego and in developing countries. Beginning in 2010, he was the Principal Investigator on two prestigious National Science Foundation grants that continue to inform San Diego and the nation about the impacts of climate change, and creative solutions ( Dr. Boudrias was Department Chair for almost 10 years, leading the transformation of the department and positioning it as a key player in undergraduate research, integration of courses across multiple disciplines, and sustainability efforts at USD. His dedication to large scale service at USD—including several major strategic initiatives like Envisioning 2024, Committee on Process and Operational Efficiency, and more recently the Socially Responsible Investing Task Force—led to his receiving the Patrick Drinan Outstanding Service award in 2018. In 2019 he was named the Director of the Care for Our Common Home pathway supporting the University of San Diego’s Envision 2024 Strategic Plan and the Urgent Challenges Collective.
Jonathan Bowman, PhD headshot Jonathan Bowman, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Jonathan M. Bowman, Professor of Communication Studies, teaches courses in human communication processes and the methods through which we obtain that knowledge about communication. Bowman’s research currently focuses on communication processes associated with intimacy and close relationships, something that relates directly to those intimate moments shared during meals and celebrations where food is present. Food-related courses he teaches include INST 450: Epicuriousity: Food, Culture, & Communication. He has four books related to communication across a variety of contexts, and is currently working on a fifth book with SAGE Publishing.
Jamall Calloway headshot Jamall Calloway Click here to access my profile.
Jamall A. Calloway is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies as well as an Affiliate and co-founding faculty member of the Africana Studies Program at the University of San Diego. His research focuses on the problem of evil though the fields of systematic and liberation theology. Food and animal related courses he teaches include Intro to Africana Studies and Black Atlantic Religions.
Julia Cantzler, PhD, JD headshot Julia Cantzler, PhD, JD Click here to access my profile.
Julia Cantzler is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of San Diego. She teaches in the areas of Environmental Sociology and Law and Society. Her research examines the intersections of race, culture, and politics, with a primary focus on social movements, law, environmental justice, and the rights of Indigenous peoples. Food related courses that she teaches include Environmental Inequality and Justice, and Sustainability: Sociological Perspectives. She is the author of Environmental Justice as Decolonization: Political Contention, Innovation and Resistance over Indigenous Fishing Rights in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Ashley Corrigan Steffey headshot Ashley Corrigan Steffey No profile available at this time.

Ashley Corrigan Steffey is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at USD with a Masters in atmospheric chemistry. While this might seem like a far cry from the Science of Food and Cooking course she teaches, chemical reactions are found everywhere, including the kitchen. When confronted with a flat loaf of bread or a bitter batch of cookies, Ashley has always asked—Why? Was it too much of something? Too little? The answer? Chemistry.

Ashley is also passionate about animal welfare and is both a founder and board member of The Rescued Dog, where she focuses on advocating for animals in disenfranchised communities.

Simon Croom, PhD headshot Simon Croom, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Simon Croom is a Professor of supply chain management in the School of Business at USD. He previously ran his own food business for over ten years before joining academia. His research considers world class supply chain management, psychopathy in executives and social and environmental responsibility in business. He has undertaken a number of food-related projects in his classes at USD. He is the co-author of Corporate Psychopathy: Investigating destructive personalities in the workplace Palgrave Macmillan (2020) and has published over 100 technical papers in supply chain strategy, social responsibility and psychopathy.
Kate DeConinck, ThD headshot Kate DeConinck, ThD Click here to access my profile.
Kate  DeConinck is a teaching Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies as well as the Co-Director of USD's Urgent Challenges Collective initiative on homelessness. Her recent research projects have investigated the stigmatization of homelessness, perceptions of and opposition to affordable housing in San Diego, and the relationship between trauma, mourning, and homelessness. DeConinck also co-teaches a course, Understanding the Homelessness Crisis, which analyzes housing insecurity as a political, social, and moral crisis. Food insecurity is an issue that often intersects with homelessness in her research, teaching, and advocacy work.
Mary Doak, PhD headshot Mary Doak, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Mary Doak is a Professor of Christian theology in the Theology and Religious Studies Department at USD. Her research is primarily in Christian thought, especially in areas concerning Christian understandings of history and engagement with politics. She is interested in teaching a food-related introduction to Catholic thought, tracing the religious, ethical, and political significance of food as a way of understanding key aspects of Catholic life and practice. She is the author of Reclaiming Narrative for Public Theology (SUNY, 2004); Divine Harmony: Seeking Community in a Broken World (Paulist, 2017), A Prophetic, Public Church: Witness to Hope Amid the Global Crises of the 21st Century (Liturgical Press, 2020), and co-editor of Translating Religion (Orbis, 2013).
Matthew Evpak headshot Matt Evpak No profile available at this time.
Matt Evpak is an adjunct instructor in the philosophy department at USD. Food-related courses he teaches include Ethics and Social Ethics.
Debbie Finocchio headshot Debbie Finocchio Click here to access my profile.
Debbie  Finocchio is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and is USD’s Coordinator for Core Assessment. She has taught the Science of Food & Cooking – which contains a hands-on lab component—in both in-person and remote formats, as well as for USD’s SYE study abroad program.
Colin Fisher, PhD headshot Colin Fisher, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Colin Fisher is a Professor of history at the University of San Diego. Food-related courses he teaches include U.S. History of Food and U.S. Environmental History. His research explores working-class and African American encounters with nature. He is the author of Urban Green: Nature, Recreation, and the Working Class in Industrial Chicago (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).
Blank profile image Samuel Fleischman No profile available at this time.

Samuel Fleischman is an Adjunct Professor in the Shiley Marcos School of Engineering. His research involves X-ray absorption spectroscopic studies of inorganic compounds. He is currently studying agricultural nutrient transport through the environment. He is involved with the San Diego organization, a group committed to reducing food insecurity by promoting home gardens. The food-related course he teaches is The Engineering of Coffee. He is author or co-author of research articles including, for example, "Phosphorous chemistry affecting nutrient runoff in agriculture," and has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Holly Hamilton-Bleakley headshot Holly Hamilton-Bleakley Click here to access my profile.
Holly Hamilton-Bleakley is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department. Her research focuses on Aristotelian notions of human flourishing, the rights discourse of philosophical liberalism, and the ways in which these two traditions critique and interact with one another, both historically and in contemporary philosophical discourse. The food and animal related course which she regularly teaches is Phil 321 Social Ethics. She believes that issues such as food security, the transmission of food knowledge, and the mind/body relationship in the consumption of food all play crucial roles in the flourishing of human beings. As a mother of six children and an avid home cook, she is passionate about the impact of food on family stability and personal identity.
Angel Hinzo, PhD Angel Hinzo, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Angel M. Hinzo (Ho-Chunk, enrolled Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego. She completed her PhD in Native American Studies from the University of California, Davis and completed a postdoc in Interdisciplinary Indigenous Studies at the University of Denver. Her dissertation “Voicing Across Space: Subverting Colonial Structures in Ho-Chunk/Winnebago Tribal History” is a historical narrative focusing on Ho-Chunk, intertribal, state, and federal relations from the mid-1800s to the present. Her research incorporates feminist and Indigenous methodologies in analyzing primary and secondary sources.
Rebecca Ingram, PhD headshot Rebecca Ingram, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Rebecca Ingram is Associate Professor of Spanish in the Languages, Cultures, and Literatures department at USD. Her research focuses on food cultural studies in Spain, giving particular attention to how culinary discourses and foodwork give us new ways to understand Spain’s modernization and the roles of two marginalized and anxiety-provoking groups, women and the working class. She is the author of food studies articles appearing in the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Cincinnati Romance Review, and Bulletin of Spanish Studies, and co-editor with Lara Anderson of a special issue on Food Cultural Studies in the Transhispanic World. Food related courses she teaches include the LLC class Food: National Cultures, Global Contexts, and Food and Politics in Spain.
Koonyong Kim, PhD headshot Koonyong Kim, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Koonyong Kim is Associate Professor of English at USD. His main fields of interest are contemporary literature and film, critical theory, cultural studies, and new media. As part of his broad interest in cultural studies, he teaches such courses as Food and Asian/American Literature, and Food, Love, and Stories. He is particularly interested in studying food as a cultural signifier or text in which a complex web of social, historical, and economic meanings and practices is inscribed and crisscrossed, especially in the specific context of contemporary globalization and transnational culture.
Persephone Lewis headshot Persephone Lewis Click here to access my profile.
Persephone Lewis co-teaches a course called Integrating Indigenous and Western Science in the biology department. This course focuses on Indigenous knowledges associated with plants for use as food and medicinal purposes. Lewis has also been involved in urban Native American community efforts around food justice. She wrote a grant that was funded to create a community garden at the Ballard Center in Old Town. She's also interested in pedagogies of land and larger questions of Indigenous knowledges, including Indigenous STEAM curriculum.
John Loggins headshot John Loggins Click here to access my profile.
John Loggins is the Director of Community Engaged Learning in the Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action at USD; John works collaboratively as part of a team responsible for ensuring that USD is a global and national leader as a community-engaged anchor institution committed to democratic and equitable community partnerships that generate transformative solutions to societal challenges. John’s commitment to positive social change through community engagement began during his service in Peace Corps Jamaica. His continued dedication is exemplified through his roles as a volunteer with Oncology and Kids (summer camp for kids living with cancer), as board member of the San Diego County Bike Coalition, and as an active Normal Heights community member. Beginning his career at USD in 2002, over the years John has developed the skills and abilities to build relationships that enable him to effectively work with people with various educational backgrounds and life experiences. John is committed to advancing inclusion and equity in the San Diego/Tijuana community. Having earned his MA in Leadership studies at USD, John regularly seeks out opportunities to consult and positively challenge the community to identify and address systems of inequity.
Jesse Mills, PhD headshot Jesse Mills, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Jesse Mills, PhD, has been an active and dedicated member of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty since Fall 2006. Developing an African American Studies curriculum, serving as a resource for campus-wide diversity efforts, and mentoring advanced undergraduate research in ethnic studies, Mills enjoys being a part of the USD learning community. Mills draws his inspiration from his esteemed colleagues in the Ethnic Studies core and affiliated faculty, and the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole.
Christopher Nayve headshot Christopher Nayve Click here to access my profile.
Chris Nayve is the Associate Vice of Community Engagement and Anchor Initiatives at the University of San Diego and has over 20 years of experience in the field of community engagement and community economic development.  Chris is committed to building the field of community-engaged scholarship and practice through the integration of social innovation, place-based justice, and anchor institution approaches.  Using these frameworks, Chris works with community partners to address food justice and affiliated issues that include food insecurity, housing, workforce development, and community health.  Chris is passionate about deepening the breadth and depth of community engagement for faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community partners in order to address critical social issues through the beneficially mutual exchange of knowledge and resources.  Project examples include working with faculty, students, and community leaders to build and develop community garden spaces and curriculum, co-developing community land agreements for garden space, and developing partnerships with local and global NGOs focused on food justice initiatives and programs.
Truc Ngo, PhD headshot Truc Ngo, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Truc Ngo is Professor and Chair of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at the University of San Diego. Dr. Ngo developed, launched and taught ENGR 110 - The Design of Coffee in 2017, offered exclusively to non-engineering majors. Since its inauguration in Fall 2017, the course has become one of the most popular ESTI course options for students across USD campus. In 2020 Dr. Ngo developed two more versions of the coffee course: one Honors version (HNRS 356/357) in collaboration with Dr. Alyson Ma, chair of the Economics Department, and another carrying FDG2 flag (ENGR 315) in collaboration with Dr. Caroline Baillie, an engineering faculty colleague. Dr. Ngo is also assisting a USD alumna in the research and development effort to manufacture edible bowls and cups made out of organic superfood products, aiming to alleviate plastic waste problems.
Joseph Provost, PhD headshot Joseph Provost, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Joseph  Provost is a Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at USD. For many years he has taught non-science majors basic foundations of science using food as a theme. Starting at Moorhead State University, he designed an engaging format for 300 students to actively learn chemistry, biology and even physics with hands-on, food-related experiments and curricula. He is the lead author on The Science of Cooking: Understanding the Biology and Chemistry Behind Food and Cooking, a textbook used in over 50 universities and community colleges. In addition to collaborating with food writers at the Washington Post and food bloggers, Provost has written a recent chapter on the chemistry of browning. His research is on engaging students by integrating research in the classroom and his laboratory focuses on non-small cell lung cancer and lung fibrosis.
Andrew Tirrell, JD, PhD headshot Andrew Tirrell, JD, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Andrew Tirrell is an Assistant Professor of environmental politics in the Political Science and International Relations Department at USD. His research considers issues of sustainability as they relate to food systems, with a particular focus on fisheries management and deforestation. He has authored journal articles and book chapters related to fisheries management, border diplomacy, integrated land management, and environmental peacebuilding. His book, Borderline: Environmental Challenges at the Mexico-United States Border is forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield Press. He teaches several courses related to food and sustainability, including Politics and the Environment, Politics and Food, Culture and Environmental Politics, and Conceptions of Nature: Race, Faith, Food, and Politics.
Jonathan Wadley, PhD headshot Jonathan Wadley, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Jonathan Wadley is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations. Food-related courses he teaches include Food and Politics and Politics and Animals. His research interests include the status of animals in international relations theory and the evolution of the animal protection movement in the United States. He is the founder of America of Animals, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower animal advocates through technology.
Meaghan Weatherdon headshot Meaghan Weatherdon Click here to access my profile.
Meaghan Weatherdon is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Religions in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego. Dr. Weatherdon’s research considers how Indigenous spiritualities inform and are integrated into environmental and social justice movements in North America with particular attention to youth self-determination. Dr. Weatherdon explores issues related to colonial agriculture, Indigenous foodways, and food sovereignty in her course Introduction to Indigenous Religions and Spiritualities. She also considers intersections between food, community, and religiosity in her course Exploring Religious Meaning. She is currently working on a manuscript based on her dissertation, “The Rise of Nishiyuu: Walking the Land for Self-determination.”
Mike Williams, PhD, JD headshot Mike Williams, PhD, JD Click here to access my profile.
Mike Williams is a Professor of political science and international relations and is the Director of the Changemaker Hub. Over the last two years, he has also been the Co-Director of the Urgent Challenges Collective and its initiatives on homelessness and food insecurity. As the Director of the Hub and the Co-Director of the Collective, he has been involved with many projects with students, faculty, and staff related to food justice.
Mark Woods, PhD headshot Mark Woods, PhD Click here to access my profile.
Mark  Woods is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at USD. His research is primarily in the areas of environmental philosophy—broadly construed—and philosophical issues of war and peace. Food-related courses he teaches at USD include Animal Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Justice, and Sustainability and Development Ethics. He is the author of Rethinking Wilderness (Broadview Press, 2017) and numerous articles. His current research project is a book trilogy on armed conflicts and the environment.

FSI Mission Statements

For current and past FSI mission statements, click here