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Course Directory

Food Ethics

East Baltimore
3rd term
Berman Institute (Bioethics)
3 credits
Academic Year:
2021 - 2022
Instruction Method:
Synchronous Online with Some Asynchronous Online
Class Times:
  • Tuesday,  3:30 - 6:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
  • Anne Barnhill
Anne Barnhill

Eating is an essential human activity: we need to eat to survive. But how should we eat? What kinds of foods should we eat, how should we produce these foods, and who should decide?

Introduces students to the primary ethical challenges in the global food system and explores ethical issues in the United States food system. Provides students with the opportunity to think critically about a variety of conflicting views about the ethics of animal agriculture, healthy eating efforts and decision-making about food. Uses theories and tools from practical ethics, political philosophy, and theories of justice to shed light on these issues.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the major challenges facing the global food system
  2. Identify major forms of injustice in the United States food system
  3. Understand and critique the ethical arguments against different forms of animal agriculture
  4. Understand and critique the ethical arguments for and against public health efforts to promote healthy eating
  5. Identify different views about appropriate decision-making in the food system – that is, different views about how important decisions should get made and who should make these decisions
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 20% Short paper
  • 20% Weekly writing assignments
  • 20% Participation
  • 40% Final Paper

Enrollment Restriction:

Enrollment Priority given to Master of Bioethics students

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Consent required for Undergraduates

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

In addition to the textbooks, there are several useful online resources that you’re encouraged to consult: The website. This website, maintained by Madison Powers, provides an eye-opening roadmap of the food-energy-water nexus from a global justice perspective. David M. Kaplan’s “Philosophy of Food Project” ( This website has useful summaries of philosophical arguments related to food.