COOL CLASSES: “Food Bioethics: The Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights of Food Choice”

This course in the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Program explores the questions that commonly arise in food ethics, such as how values influence individual choice, health issues concerning food, the environmental impacts of farming choices, and food distribution concerns.

Class Name: “Food Bioethics: The Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights of Food Choice”

Taught by: Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Samantha Noll


Here’s what Noll had to say about her class:

This class provides an in depth overview of the emerging field of food ethics, the values that drive current agricultural practice and science, and the positive and negative aspects of our current food system. It is my hope that, after taking this course, students understand the ethical and justice issues that commonly arise during the production, processing, and distribution of foodstuffs. Most of us eat every day without thinking about the ethical dimensions of what is on our plate. But our choices matter. They are expressive of a wide array of values and have impacts that go far beyond the individual meal—impacts that may affect those living next door, in another neighborhood, and even those living in another country. After taking this course, students should come away with a wider awareness of these issues and the tools necessary to become ethical eaters and to make positive change as consumers, citizens, and members of local food webs.  [For a final project the students created a website exploring food in the Tri-College Consortium.]

I created this course for several reasons. First, food ethics is a wonderful topic for students to study as it touches a wide range of important issues in applied ethics, from global health and hunger, to animal-welfare impacts and wider environmental concerns. In addition, food is something that students have expert knowledge of. It’s something that they interact with several times a day, as they prepare, share, and enjoy food with others on campus. This provides a useful touchstone that can help them to better understand the ethical and justice issues at the heart of our current industrial agricultural system. In addition, this experience helps students identify clear plans of action to potentially address ethical issues at the personal, legal, and political levels. The food system is all around us, and we are a part of this larger community. I created this course with the hope that, after taking it, students will better understand their place in this web and how their daily choices matter.

See other classes offered by the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Program this semester. 

Photo of the Haverfarm by Leigh Taylor. 

Cool Classes is a series that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford experience.