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Scenes from Faculty Senate

Application For Course Approval

for General Education Program

Course Number: APG 301
Course Title: Anthropology of Nutrition

Check the general education core area for this course:*

  • ___ Fine Arts & Literature
  • ___ Natural Sciences
  • ___ Mathematical & Quantitative Reasoning
  • ___ Foreign Language/Cross-cultural Competence
  • ___ Letters
  • _X_ Social Sciences
  • ___ English Communication

*Note: courses can qualify in more than one area but a separate form is required for each request. Students may use a course for general education credit in one area.

Department(s) in which course will be taught: Sociology/Anthropology
Faculty member(s) responsible for course: Marquisa LaVelle

Will non-tenure track faculty teach this course? No

The intergrated skills* that this course will focus on are:

  • _X_ Read complex texts
  • ___ Speak Effectively
  • _X_ Use of quantitative data
  • ___ Use of information technology
  • ___ Write effectively
  • _X_ Examine human differences
  • ___ Use of qualitative data
  • ___ Use of artistic activity

*Note: At least three integrated skills are required.

Course description (as would be found in catalog):
The study of worldwide human food ways and biological nutrition from prehistory to the present. Spring semester; lecture; 3 credits

Faculty member's signature: ________________________________

Chairperson's signature: ________________________________

Dean's signature: ________________________________

The purpose of this application is to assure that the proposed course meets explicit goals established for the general education program. These are:

  • the ability to think critically in order to solve problems and question the nature and sources of authority
  • the ability to use the methods and materials characteristic of each knowledge area with an understanding of the interrelationship among and the interconnectedness of the core areas
  • a commitment to intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning
  • an openness to new ideas with the social skills necessary for both teamwork and leadership
  • the ability to think independently and be self-directed; to make informed choices and take initiative

Part I

This part consists of six questions designed to highlight fundamental aspects of the general education program. Only answer question 5 if it is relevant to your course.

1. If not stated in your syllabus, please indicate the primary learning objective(s) of your course.

The primary goals of this course are the following:

  1. To engage students in an investigation of the complex relationships between food, nutrition and cultural practices relating to food.
  2. To provide, through this investigation, a wider dialogue on the interactions between social behavior and human biology, including health and nutritionally-based disease.
  3. To introduce students to the methodological bases of nutritional research through assigned readings from journals, laboratory practice in measurement techniques and through assignments requiring mathematical analyses of data. (See enclosed materials.)

2. How does the proposed course meet the goals established for the general education program? Please refer to enclosed supporting materials.

Students in this course have several written assignments based on their readings. These assignments typically require them to compare authors' points of view or to comment critically on their content.

Students have three hands-on labs in this course where they develop experience in nutritional methods and apply these experiences to themselves in relation to others of their age in our own and other cultures. For example, an assignment on energy balance is required in which students document nutritional turnover and physical activity for a period of three days. Similarly, the course includes teaching modules on measurement and statistical methods for cross-cultural comparisons of nutritional data.

The wonderful aspect of teaching a course on food and global nutrition is that even Freshmen have extensive experience and interest in food. This course is designed to provide the skills to continue that interest at a more critical level throughout their lifetimes. Similarly, the course is relevant to students' continued understanding of the inter-relationships in their future lives between core areas (in this case cultural food resources, food customs and human biology and health).

The classroom laboratories are organized on the basis of measurement teams in which students work together in measuring each other and then analyzing the results. The ability to work together is stressed in these exercises, especially since some of these measurements are difficult and exacting. They therefore need each other's continual feedback to ensure precision.

The last assignment in the course is that students provide a budget and a detailed nutritional food plan for a single mother with two children on welfare. In addition to requiring students to go to the grocery store, it challenges students to come up with real-life solutions to real life problems, including hunger. They are encouraged to be innovative within nutritional boundaries and to also confront the problems of commercialized American food customs (chips and soda) with the needs of young children (carrots and milk).

3. How is the course suitable for the general education area you have requested it be classified:? Please refer to the criteria for the relevant division as described in Appendix A as well as to your course materials appended to this form.

This course incorporates the history and prehistory of cultural uses of food resources and their biological consequences with respect to nutrition. In its emphasis on cultural behavior and the roles embedded in food procurement, preparation and distribution, the subject matter is a classic social science approach. The Anthropology of nutrition is also global in its use of material and intellectual resources, involving worldwide comparisons among disparate societies.

4. Explain how this course provides opportunities for practice in each of the integrated skills you have listed on the coversheet.

1. The required texts for this course consist of an edited reader of appropriate journal articles plus an in-depth ethnographic case study of a specific culture. In this latter text, students must decipher some of the course principles through analyses within a broader and more complex context. The articles present opportunities for students to critically compare viewpoints, whereas the ethnography provides opportunities for interpretation and discussion. Students practice these skills through short written exercises based on the readings. These are then due on the day scheduled for class discussion of the issue.

2. Through the laboratory exercises, students receive practice in measurement data and their analyses. Included are statistics for comparing populations such are measures of central tendency, variation and conversion to standard scores. In addition students are required to convert indices and calculate rates of change. These are practiced by students in class and on exam problems.

3. The course examines human differences as a fundamental aspect of the Anthro-pology of nutrition. This skill is practiced in numerous ways. The ethnographic text is always non-Western in content; course lectures are primarily based on cross-cultural comparisons; and written assignments and exams are reflections of this approach. Students use the quantitative skills they have developed to compare nutritional outcomes between societies, such as levels of body fat, growth of children, protein intake and so forth.

5. Will your course sometimes be taught to groups of students larger than 60? If so, please explain what you will do to insure that each of the integrative skills will be achieved. Please explain how each integrative skill will be achieved.


6. If other instructors (including per course faculty or teaching assistants) teach the course, what will be done to ensure that the proposed content and skills will be maintained across sections and instructors? ( To be completed by department chair.)

The chairperson will review the content and the integrated skills requirements with per-course instructors before the preparation of their syllabi. Once prepared, the syllabi will be reviewed by the chairperson in order to insure that course content and integrated skills are appropriate to the general education program.

Part II

Please provide documentation of the means by which your course attempts to reach the goals of the general education program courses described above. Please attach a syllabus(mandatory) and all relevant course materials (e.g., exams, homework and laboratory assignments, classroom exercises) that will demonstrate how your course does this. In addition, please feel free to include any explanation(s) necessary showing how the course materials are linked to both the goals of general education program and specifically to the integrated skills.

Please refer to attached materials. Included are a course syllabi, examples of writing assignments and research assignments for this course. Also included is a brief note from Marjorie Caldwell, Chair of Food Science and Nutrition, concerning the impact of this course on their students.

Anthropology 310S
Marquisa. LaVelle
Spring 2003

Culture and Human Nutrition

The recipe for this course is an exploration of the cultural and biological relationships of food, diet and nutrition among human populations. We will consider the evolutionary history of food production, distribution, preparation and selection as these are mixed together with the bionutritional consequences of diet on genetics, heath and disease. Because culture is a fundamental aspect of human behavior, eating is seldom a straightforward biological act. Eating (and not eating!) is influenced by demography, ecology, social traditions, political structure, socioeconomic status, religious precepts, gender roles, power strategies and other cultural beliefs about what ideally constitutes appropriate "foods" , "cuisines" and diet. Therefore a large portion of this course menu is devoted to understanding food and nutrition and culture as interactive systems which can have significant effects on population biology and human health.

Required Texts: (Available at the Rhode Island Book Company and the Canpus Bookstore)

Alan Goodman, Darna Dufour and Greta Pelto, Nutritional Anthropology, 2000.
J. J. Weismantel, Food, Gender, and Poverty in the Ecuadorian Andes, 1988

Recommended Readings:
Food in Chinese Culture. K.C. Chang
FAO/WHO/UNU: Energy and Protein Requirements. WHO report series #724
Dancing Skeletons. Katherine A. Dettwyler.
Sweetness and Power. S. Mintz
Food and Evolution. Marvin Harris and Eric B. Ross
Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease 7th ed. M. Shils and V. Young
Pigs for the Ancestors. R. Rappaport
Hunger and work in a Savage Society. Audrey Richards
Africa in Crisis. L. Timberlake.
Always Hungry, Never Greedy, Miriam Kahn
The World Food Problem, 2nd ed. P. Foster and H.D. Leathers

Coursework (101 points total):
Research Assignments: There are two outside assignments due during the term. Worth 15 points each, these are typed reports of research conducted by you on energy balance and on poverty. Mark your calendars, these are due Thursday February 20th and Tuesday April 29th.
Reading Assignments: The assigned articles in the text, Nutritional Anthropology, should be read prior to class. To help focus your reading over the term, there will be 4 assigned discussion questions on the readings, worth 4 points each, that are due in class on Jan 28th, Feb 25th, March 25th, and April 22nd.
Examinations:There are two essay exams in the course worth 55 points total. The midterm exam is scheduled for Thursday March 6th (worth 25 pts) and the final exam will be given on Tuesday May 13th at 8 AM (worth 30 pts). Study guides will be provided in advance.
Course Grades: 45% of the course grade is based on the assignments. Papers and assignments should be clearly written in your own words, typed and proofread. Late papers result in lost points and like cooked fish, after 3 days are not acceptable. 55% of your grade is based on the two essay exams. Of course, regular class attendance is expected.

Course Outline

I. Food, Prehistory and Biological Adaptation

Jan 21st - 23rd: Dining on Metaphor/Eating Cultural Symbols - Text #1, 19, 20.
Jan 28th - 30th: Primate Cuisine and Nutritional Evolution - Text #5, 7, 10.
Feb 4th - 6th: Nutritional Requirements and Dietary Surveys - Text #3, 4, 29
Feb 11th - 13th: Models of Energy Balance and Body Composition - Text # 3, 28, 30
Jan 28th: Reading Assignment # 1 Due
Feb 13th: Adventures in Energy Balance Due

Ecology and economy of food and nutrition

Feb 18th: No Class - Presidents' Day
Feb 20th - 25th: Hunting, Foraging and Paleontology - Text #2, 9, 39, 40.
Feb 27th - Mar 4th: Adaptation in Foraging Populations: Case Studies - Text #6, 8.
Feb 25th Reading Assignment #2 Due
Mar 6th MIDTERM EXAM (25 points)
Mar 11th - 13th: SPRING BREAK
Mar 18th - 20th: The Revolution of Animal and Plant Domestication - Text #11, 12, 14:
Mar 25th - 27th: Ecology and Agricultural Populations: Case Studies - Text #14, 21, 23: Start reading Weismantel
Mar 25th: Reading Assignment # 3 Due.

Issues in International Nutrition

Apr 1st - 3rd: Power and Poverty - Text #, 15, 18, 33: continue with Weismantel.
Apr 8th - 10th: The state of the world's children - Text #24, 28, 30: finish Weismantel
Apr 15th - 17th: Industrialization, Class and Gender- Text #31, 32, 34;
Apr 22nd: Reading Assignment #4 Due.
Apr 24th: No Class
Apr 29th - May 6th: Worldwide Over and Undernutrition - Text #37, 38.
Apr 29th: Assignment on Food and Poverty Due.
May 13th: FINAL EXAM 8:00 - 11:00 AM

Professor M LaVelle
505 Chafee Hall

Office Hours: Tues and Thurs 10-11 and 3:30 to 4:30.
Also by appointment.

Reading Assignments

Anthropology 310S
Culture and Human Nutrition

Reading Assignment #1 (4pts)

Due Tuesdy, January 28th 11:00AM

Note: Assignments should be typed, 1-3 pages, and on time.

Consider the following: Specifically, what are the constituents of a McDonald's "Happy Meal"? (You may need to perform fieldwork if you are ignorant of this item.)

1. Compare the contents, presentation and context of a "Happy Meal" (note the name) and a Japanese nursery school lunch.

2. Compare the metaphoric contexts of these meals with respect to ritual, family, and conformity.

Reading Assignment #2 (4pts)

Due Tuesday, February 25th in class.

1. According to Richard Lee, how much work per day does it take foraging groups to provide themselves with food?

How much work per day would it take you to provide yourself with food?

(Note: How much does it cost you an average day to eat and how many hours of labor per day would it take to provide it? Award yourself $11 per hour. Don't forget the gasoline for shopping, the time for shopping and an estimate of time and energy cost of cooking.)

Reading Assignment #3 (4 points)

Due Thursday, March 27th in class.

Both Dufour and Weismantel have conducted research on native Americans living in the Amazonian tropical forest. According to these two authors, how do you make a living in this very difficult ecosystem? What are the ecological constraints in farming, what is grown, where's the protein?

Reading Assignment #4 (4 points)

Due Tuesday, May 6th in class.

What is meant by the concept "Delocalization" with regard to food and nutrition? In what specific ways do the Andean people in Weismantel's book fit Pelto's description of this historical process?

Culture and Human Nutrition

Name: ______________________________

Assignment 1 (15 pts): Adventures in Energy Balance

This is a two day assignment beginning 2/5 and ending 2/7. The written project is due Tuesday, February 20th in class. Before you begin, on Tuesday 2/11th weigh yourself in kilograms on the anthropology lab scale and record this in the box for day 1. Weigh yourself again on Thursday 2/13th, using the same scale and record this weight as ending weight below.

Starting Tuesday at 2PM, you need to note when you eat, what you eat and a rough estimate of amount. Survey sheets are included for your use. Later, you can fill in the caloric values as well as total grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates from the materials in the lab or the websites. Also, on an hourly basis (unless asleep), you will need to estimate what physical activity you engaged in during the previous hour. This represents additional caloric expenditure above your calculated BMR. See the attached survey form (Sleeping is sleeping, classes are sitting, etc.) The energy equivalent values per body weight are included here. Please turn-in these forms with your summary calculations.

Beginning Weight (Kg): _________
Ending Weight (Kg): _________
Change (+/-) Kg: _________

Calculated Daily Basal Metabolism (BMR) ________ Calories x 2 = ________ (See below).

Estimated Additional Caloric Expenditure over 2 days from p. 8 = ________

Total 2-day Caloric Expenditure (Basal Metabolism plus additional activity): ________

Total 2-day Caloric Intake from p. 6 = ________

Difference Between Intake and Expenditure (I E) = ________

Estimated Caloric Expenditures

Sleeping & Basal Metabolism: This is the caloric value of the amount of energy your body needs to function minimally. This Basal rate of energy expenditure includes resting and sleeping, but all other activity above this level is additive to Basal Metabolism. To estimate your 24 hour energy expenditure for minimal activity, sleep and rest, use the formulas below:

BMR = MEN: Weight in Kg x 24.2
BMR = WOMEN: Weight in Kg x 22.2
All other activity other than BMR is added to this.

Additional Calories Expended per Kg WT per Hour: Walking (3 mph) = 3.52, Jogging (6 mph) = 10.8, Cycling = 7.5, Running (8 mph) = 13.9, Aerobics = 7.5, Swimming vigoriously = 6.8, Tennis = 7.5, Cleaning/Puttering = 2.2, Studying = 2, TV = 1.5

Table 1. Equivalents by Volume and Weight
This table contains some helpful volume and weight equivalents. Following is an example that illustrates how you can use the table:
Example. For milk, the nutrient profile covers a 1-cup serving (see page 20, table 9). Let's say you use 2 tablespoons of milk in your coffee. In table 1, you see that 1 cup equals 16 tablespoons, so the 2 tablespoons you consume are two-sixteenths or one-eighth of 1 cup. To find out the nutritive value of the amount you actually consume, 2 tablespoons, you need to divide the nutrient values listed for milk by 8.

1 gallon (3.786 liters; 3,786 ml) 4 quarts
1 quart (0.946 liter; 946 ml) 4 cups or 2 pints
1 cup (237 ml) 8 fluid ounces, Z\x pint, or
16 tablespoons
2 tablespoons (30 ml) 1 fluid ounce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) 3 teaspoons
1 pint 2 cups

1 pound (16 ounces) 453.6 grams
1 ounce 28.35 grams
3Z\x ounces 100 grams

Sources of Food Composition:
USDA "Nutritive Value of Foods" Copies in Chafee 132. This is also available online There is an interactive website for food composition without animal protein:

Table 2. Tips for Estimating Amount of Food Consumed
This table lists some handy tips to help you estimate the amount of food you eat when you cannot measure or weigh it.

Breads and Grains
Z\x cup cooked cereal, pasta, rice volume of cupcake wrapper or half a baseball
4-oz bagel (large) diameter of a compact disc (CD)
medium piece of cornbread medium bar of soap

Fruits and Vegetables
medium apple, orange, peach tennis ball
Z\v cup dried fruit golf ball or scant handful for average adult
Z\x cup fruit or vegetable half a baseball
1 cup broccoli light bulb
medium potato computer mouse
1 cup raw leafy greens baseball or fist of average adult
Z\x cup 6 asparagus spears, 7 or 8 baby carrots or
carrot sticks, or a medium ear of corn

Meat, Fish, and Poultry, cooked
1 oz about 3 tbsp meat or poultry
2 oz small chicken drumstick or thigh 3 oz average deck of cards, palm of average adult's hand, half of a whole, small chicken breast, medium pork chop

1 oz hard cheese average person's thumb, 2 dominoes, 4 dice

2 tbsp peanut butter Ping-Pong ball
Z\c cup nuts level handful for average adult
Z\x cup half a baseball or base of computer mouse
1 cup tennis ball or fist of average adult
Note: The serving size indicated in the Food Guide Pyramid and on food labels is a standardized unit of measure and may not represent the portion of food a person actually eats on one occasion.

Sources: Schuster (1997), American Institute of Cancer Research (2001).

Day 1
Date: Tuesday 2/11th ENERGY INTAKE BEGINNING WEIGHT (kg) ________


2 PM
3 PM
4 PM
5 PM
6 PM
7 PM
8 PM
9 PM
10 PM
11 PM
12 AM
1 AM
2 AM
3 AM
4 AM
5 AM
6 AM

Day 2
Date: Wednesday 2/12th

7 AM
8 AM
9 AM
10 AM
11 AM
12 PM
1 PM
2 PM
3 PM
4 PM
5 PM
6 PM
7 PM
8 PM
9 PM
10 PM
11 PM
12 PM
1 AM
2 AM
3 AM
4 AM
5 AM
6 AM
WEIGHT (kg): ________

Day 3
Date: Thursday 2/13th

7 AM
8 AM
9 AM
10 AM
11 AM
12 PM

CALCULATED 2 DAY BMR (See page 1) =

Energy Expenditure Activities Above BMR (See page 1 to calculate)

Day 1
Date: Tuesday 2/11th ENERGY INTAKE BEGINNING WEIGHT (kg) ________


7 AM
8 AM
9 AM
10 AM
11 AM
12 PM
1 PM
2 PM
3 PM
4 PM
5 PM
6 PM
7 PM
8 PM
9 PM
10 PM
11 PM
12 PM
1 AM
2 AM
3 AM
4 AM
5 AM
6 AM
ABOVE (See page 1)

Culture and Human Nutrition

Anthropology 310S
M LaVelle

Research Assignment 2 (15 points)

The Nutrition of Poverty

DUE Tuesday, April 19th in class

NOTE: Assignments should be typed and on time.

You have three weeks to do this assignment. Trust me, it is hard work but interesting.

You are a single parent with two children - one aged 2 yrs and one aged 10 yrs. The total daily energy/caloric requirements are 800 calories per day for the toddler; 1100 calories per day for your active subteen son and 2000 calories per day for yourself. In addition to vitamins C, A, E, lipids. fiber, etc, you need to provide a minimum average of 30 grams of protein for the kids and 45 grams for you. Most enriched flours, pastas, breads and cereals provide trace vitamins and minerals, but you will have to check the labels to make sure. Read the labels.

Your food budget is $55 for the week. What are you going to feed your family? To answer this question, go shopping at the grocery store (with friends or without friends). You must provide the required daily calories for your family within the allotted budget for a week. To do this you will have to decide what you are going to feed yourselves for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner and what the ingredients will cost at the store. (If you have left-over money, you can blow it at the movies.) I have deducted money from the State of Rhode Island allotment since you need not worry about cleaning supplies, tooth paste, shampoo, condiments or toilet paper.

1. Provide a detailed list per day of the food provided and the individual cost of what you bought. You may wish to apportion the daily food per person to ensure that each of you get the calories and nutrients that you need. Whenever possible, choose high quality foods with protein and the proper variety of vitamins etc. (no fair feeding the toddler KOOL AID or ice cream only - then the food budget ends up in the medical budget. If your children die of malnutrition 5 points will be deducted from the assignment.)

2. Comment on the problems you anticipate in providing a high quality diet to children caught up in high fat/sugar brands of snacks and foods. What panache do these foods have for poor kids and their parents. (You may look up the word "panache".)

3. Lastly, as anthropologists at an American grocery store, plan to spend some time "lurking" about the environment. Note the foods and brands strategically placed at eye level (a premium space in a grocery store.) Observe a parent with children shopping for food. What are they buying? Comment on the experience with respect to nutrition, cost and difficulty in performing the assignment. Have fun.




Michael W. Honhart, Professor of History 2014 Recipient of the Sheila Black Grubman Faculty Outstanding Service Award



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