COOL CLASSES: “Black and Asian Foodways: An Exploration”

This environmental studies course examines environmental and social histories of Black and Asian foods and food cultures in the U.S.

Class Name: “Black and Asian Foodways: An Exploration”

Taught By: Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Talia Young

Says Young:

This class examines environmental and social histories of Black and Asian food and food culture in the U.S. My hope is that students learn more about the origins of their food and culture, as well as gather tools and information to build a Black-Asian solidarity movement.

This course was inspired by a workshop on Black and Asian Foods that I went to a decade ago, led by Chris Bolden Newsome of Bartram’s Garden’s Sankofa Farms and Lan Dinh of VietLead’s Resilient Roots program. Chris and Lan [joined us] as guest speakers in the course, which brings it full circle. My work with fish had only strengthened my interest in connections between Black and Asian communities in relation to food. So, when the department offered me an opportunity to teach an elective, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about these histories and relationships that I was so interested in.  

There are courses that focus on the Asian American experience, and others that look at the Black American experience.  One of the unusual things about this course is that examines Black and Asian histories and stories together in order to build a shared future. It’s also special to offer students the opportunity to think explicitly about race and solidarity in an environmental context.  

Two students smile while eating a roll.
Students in the “Black and Asian Foodways” class enjoyed an end-of-semester meal together in VCAM. Photo by Reesha Gandhi ’24
Students wearing masks gather around a counter in the community kitchen that is full of dishes of food and an Instapot.
The “Black and Asian Foodways” class gathered in VCAM at the end of the semester for a celebratory meal together. Photo by Reesha Gandhi ’24.

Learn about other courses offered by Department of Environmental Studies.

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