Professor Cameron Faustman, Animal Science professor at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus, is teaching a new course titled Science and Policy Considerations for Meat as Food this spring semester.
The course focuses heavily on the concerns surrounding meat both for health and environmental reasons, the role it can play in the human diet and how science and policy may change how we look at these issues.
Faustman says the goal of the course is to provide students a new appreciation for the complexity of food and its relationship to health and the environment. The course does not focus on the ethics of eating meat, but rather on the issues surrounding the industries affected by it.
“We are ignoring that issue,” Faustman said. “The fact is, there are people who eat animals and those who do not, but I want the students to move forward and look at the issues surrounding these industries.”
He was first inspired to teach this course after attending Harvard Law School’s spring 2019 Food Law and Policy Clinic. He feels that meaningful discussions can only fully occur in response to a clear understanding of both science and policy.
“An individual cannot appreciate the complexity of a debate that can ensue unless they understand the totality of science and policy,” Faustman said.
As a part of the course, every student is required to participate in a role-playing assignment. Students must represent an organization by researching the organization’s stances, the reasoning behind the stances they hold and any public policy they have pushed or supported. Then, they will present as that organization and take questions from the class. Faustman says that this is done to help students see the perspectives they may disagree with.
“I put students in roles that are opposite of where they might normally stand,” Faustman said. “I want students to see how the other side thinks. When you’re forced to put yourself in the other role, you’ll educate yourself on both sides of an issue.”
In the course, students also discuss the advancement of food technologies and the implications of them. For example, students discussed the recent decisions made on companies labeling plant-based foods and beverages with titles like “meat” and “milk.” Faustman feels that this discussion is a nuanced one.
“These are not all black and white issues,” Faustman said. “Both sides have legitimate claims and criticisms. Students and consumers make decisions for themselves.”
Thomas Alvarez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.