222.654.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 4th Term | 4 Credit(s)
MW 1:30:00 PM
  • Contact Information
    Joel Gittelsohn
  • Course Learning Objectives

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

    • understand the significance of culture as it relates to food behavior and nutritional status in contemporary human populations
    • discuss how culture interacts conceptually with other aspects of human existence (behavior, social, historical, economic, etc.)
    • be familiar with some of the main theoretical approaches that have been used to guide nutrition interventions
    • be able to apply cultural and behavioral information to the development, implementation and evaluation of nutrition intervention programs
  • Course Description

    Introduces the bio-cultural influences on nutrition and their relevance to international and domestic public health research and programs. Topics include theoretical and methodological issues in nutritional anthropology, an overview of social scientific contributions to nutrition focusing on cultural perspectives of infant feeding, social impacts on under- and overnutrition, comparisons of Eastern and Western traditions of nutrition and the role of nutritional anthropology in the development of public health interventions.

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    This course combines approaches from anthropology, nutrition and public health to the study of human food use patterns and their nutritional consequences. We will identify and evaluate the cultural, social, psychological, economic, historical, political and ecological factors that influence food-rela ted behavior. The emphasis will be on contemporary human cultures. In terms of theory, we will incorporate the biocultural perspective as our main framework in the course, but will also attempt to incorporate relevant theories and conceptual frameworks in the field of nutrition and health behavior change. This course is very concerned with application. To this effect, I have first selected topics that I think have the greatest potential for influencing the development, implementation and evaluation of nutrition intervention programs. The latter half of the course is directly concerned with the use of cultural information for intervention development. Your final project will involve application of what you have learned to actual problems in human nutrition. Throughout this course, we should be asking ourselves: how can we use cultural information to design better nutrition programs?

    This course is taught in a seminar format. Generally, the instructor will devote the first half of each class to presentation. The second half of the class will involve discussion of the readings, and further expansion of the topics covered in the lecture. Four class sessions during the term will be dedicated largely to hands-on activities (lab sessions) that are intended to reinforce concepts presented during lectures and to assist students in the completion of components of the poster project due at the end of the term. You are expected to have completed the readings for each class prior to the class, to have prepared your commentaries for one of the readings, and to be prepared to discuss the readings. The commentaries will count towards your score for class participation.
  • Methods of Assessment

    Student evaluation based on class discussions, exercises, and a group report.

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    Students will be graded on the basis of class participation (10%), individual lab reports (30%) (10% each for the conceptual framework, formative research, and intervention plan labs), review of an ethnography (15%), a final project poster (40%), and your reviews of other student’s final project posters (5%).

  • Prerequisites

    Additional Faculty Notes:
    Consent of the instructor

  • Required Text(s)

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    Students should complete all readings assigned to a particular class in advance of the class, and come to class prepared to discuss the readings. 

    Ethnography review: We strongly recommend that students locate and read ethnographies that are appropriate for your final project in the beginning of the course. You will have to write a short review and submit it via CoursePlus.

    Electronic copies of all assigned readings will be available on the CoursePlus+ Website for this course.  Other course handouts will be posted on the website as well.

  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Files from the Online Library
  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • Contact Information

    Anna Kharmats
    Office: E5546

    Yeeli Mui
    Office: W2041

    Joel Gittelsohn, PhD
    Office: Hygiene 2041A
    Tel: 410-955-3927410-955-3927

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at