Syllabus-Philip Pepe-HIST142 7 Week

Department: History Philosophy & Religion   

Instructor: Philip Pepe, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology 

Office: W4-11, (215) 751-8574 Office Hours: Online  



Catalog Description:  

In this course, students will study the historical relationship between human beings and the food they consume, as well as the social institutions that have evolved around the production and consumption of food across cultures and time periods.  


Course Attributes:  

Amer Diversity Req-Lib Arts, Amer/Global Diversity Req, Global Diversity Req-Lib Arts, Humanities Elective, Interpretive Studies Req, Social Science Elective, Writing Intensive Requirement  


i.       Introduction  

Welcome. This is a class about the ways human beings all over the world have produced, prepared and consumed food and drink for hundreds of thousands of years. We will be studying what anthropologists refer to as foodways (defined by Elizabeth Englehardt as “the study of what we eat, how we eat, and what it means”), but from the vantage point of historians. We are interested in how and why foodways have changed over time, and how those changes have driven or been driven by other forms of social and economic change. 


The course is divided into the three conceptual and (mostly) chronological units: 

  1. Hunters and Foragers (200,000 BCE - 10,000 BCE) This unit deals with paleolithic humanity, a migratory primate species with rapidly evolving cognitive and linguistic abilities. This is the longest period we will study, but also the one we will spend the least time on. I invite you to consider why this is the case.
  2. Farmers and Herders (10,000 BCE - 1492 CE) This unit deals with neolithic humanity as it builds on the economic foundations of plant and animal domestication to develop rich and complex material cultures and to become the most demographically prolific mammal species in the history of the planet. I invite you to consider whether this has been a good thing or a bad thing (and whether or not this question makes any sense).
  3. Producers and Consumers (1492 CE - present) This unit begins with the unprecedented global exchange of flora and fauna that came in the wake of the Columbian voyages, and continues through the “industrialization” of food via modern preservation techniques along with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, finally concluding with the present era of unprecedented food surpluses, along with widely shared anxieties related to the sustainability and suitability of 21st century foodways. This is the shortest period we will study, but also the one we will spend the most time on. I invite you to consider why this is the case.


ii.      Teaching Philosophy    

Food History is a field of study that covers topics affecting our daily lives. I’m fascinated by what we as humans can learn from the rich history of our planet, and how we can put those lessons to use. This course uses different tools to facilitate our learning at multiple levels. These tools provide an active learning environment that allows students to learn by doing. My goal is for you to walk away with a deeper understanding of food and to be able to share this knowledge with others. 

 I see this course as vocational in nature: Whether you are in some sense a food or culinary professional, or have been in the past, or will be in the future, or simply take an active interest in food or cuisine, I hope that taking this class will help you to contextualize your experiences and deepen the appreciation of the role that food plays in our lives. 


iii.      Measurable Student Learning Outcomes    

Here are the things that Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies has determined that you should be able to do after taking this course. 

  By applying concepts learned in this class, you will be able to: 

  1. Describe the main events, topics and themes related to the development of human systems of food production and consumption.
  2. Define what is historically factual and distinguish inference from opinion.
  3. Recognize the range of interpretation in the discipline and comprehend the varying arguments, voices, inferences, etc. within primary and secondary historical texts.
  4. Recognize the “clues” in primary texts and materials for a more informed analysis: authorship; the purpose of authorship; intended audiences; the rhetorical devices employed; the “story line;” possible interpretations of a piece unintended by the author; connections with other texts; credibility, consistency and/or accuracy and to realize that varied interpretations of such texts is probable.
  5. Recognize the ethical commitment of the historian to alter an historical a priori or hypothesis in light of research and evidence.
  6. Recognize value of history for a greater understanding of the present and its importance for making choices for the future.
  7. State and defend positions utilizing the protocols of intellectual discussion and debate.
  8. Demonstrate an ability to write coherently and analytically; to think and write like historians.
  9. Compare and analyze the historical development of food production and consumption in different societies.


Here are the things that CCP has determined that you should be able to do after taking this course. 

Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to: 

  1. Analyze relationships among from historical, political, or economic perspectives using critical perspectives or examples science, technology, and social science disciplines.
  2. Describe how diverse fields of study have shaped the role of technology in society over time.
  • Articulate in writing a critical perspective on issues involving technology and society using evidence as support.


iv.     Communication   

Please post all course-related questions in the General Discussion Forum so that the whole class may benefit from our conversation. Please email your instructor for matters of a personal nature (ex. You are considering dropping the class). The instructor will reply to course-related questions and email   within 24-48 hours.   

I provide a quick response to all graded assignments. A typical turn-around time for   grading will be 7 days (or sooner). If you have a more immediate question or would like to discuss something by phone you can call my office: (215) 751-8574.  




v.      Canvas    

This course will be delivered via Canvas where you will interact with your classmates and with your instructor. Within the Canvas course site you will access the learning materials, such as the syllabus, class discussions, assignments, projects, and quizzes. To preview how an online course works, visit the . For technical assistance, please visit  .   


Technical Assistance   

If you are a newly admitted student seek help. If you experience computer difficulties, need help downloading a browser or plug-in, assistance logging into the course, or if you experience any errors or problems while in your online course, contact the CCP Help Desk for assistance. You can call, email  or visit the  online. 


Required Texts 

There are two required text you need to purchase for this course: 

  • Tom Standage, An Edible History of Humanity, Walker and Company, 2009 The book is inexpensive and can be purchased new or used at the bookstore. It can also be purchased more cheaply online. Ebooks are available for each. In short, obtaining both titles in the format of your choosing should not be difficult. 


As you will see in the course schedule, there are supplementary readings required for most class sessions. These will be provided to you free of charge on Canvas.  


vi.        Student Academic Services 

Student Academic Computer Center 

Foundational Mathematics        

Student Learning Resources      


Explore Library Services 

Search Library Catalogs

Library Research Help 

Philadelphia Free Library


vii.  Evaluation of Student Performance   

Throughout this course you will be learning by using the guided weekly modules I’ve provided. Each module includes a series of interrelated foundational and assessment activities. Each week you will read and view online materials that will help you prepare for and transition into the assessment portion of your learning.   


The learning outcomes will be measured using the following assessments:    

There are three elements for successful learning in this course: formative assessments (which help you form and measure your learning as it develops), summary assessments (which evaluate how you are summarizing and synthesizing the concepts), and a final assessment (which is a capstone assignment to test what you’ve learned in the class).   




Formative Assignments:    

Concepts Quizzes: formative assessments to gauge understanding of readings - Using texts and online readings, you will be exposed to the basic concepts and vocabulary of food history. You will gauge your understanding by answering a variety of questions and getting immediate feedback no later than Wednesday by 11:59 PM PT.   


Mini-lecture Quizzes: formative assessments to gauge understanding of mini-lectures - Using online video resources, you will be exposed to the basic concepts and vocabulary of food history and genetics. You will gauge your understanding by answering a variety of questions and getting immediate feedback no later than Wednesday by 11:59 PM ET.   


Discussions: Sequential discussion postings- We are an online community, and to interact with each other, each week there will be a group discussion prompted by a question. You are required to participate in our discussions on at least two different days each week, with your first thread due no later than Wednesday by 11:59 PM ET, and your second, a reply to your instructor, due by Sunday 11:59 PM ET of each week.   


Skills Trainings: Developmental activities to acquire skills and use tools—In this class you will practice skills that will not only help you in this course, but in your academic and professional endeavors. These include using the library’s resources, peer reviewing, and citing sources due by Sunday 11:59 PM ET.   


Summary Assignments:    


Short Essays: Writing with figures and citations about food history due by Sunday 11:59 PM ET.    


Rhetorical Precis: Article evaluation - In this class, in the field of food history, and in many other disciplines, you will need to critically evaluate articles as sources, which you will demonstrate in an introductory assignment and a Wikipedia assignment, both due by Sunday 11:59 PM ET.   


Midterm Assignments:    


Midterm Essay: Write a 5-paragraph essay with citations – Your essay will demonstrate your understanding of topics we’ve learned in class as well as use proper citations, which we practice in our skills training due by Sunday 11:59 PM ET.   


Final Assignments:    


Final Outline: Outlining a 5-paragraph essay. You’ll receive valuable feedback on your outline to incorporate into your essay. — Good writing skills are critical across professions. This includes outlining due by Sunday 11:59 PM ET.   


Final Essay: Write a 5-paragraph essay with citations – Your essay will demonstrate your understanding of topics we’ve learned in class as well as use figures and proper citations, which we practice in our skills training due by Sunday 11:59 PM ET.    



Grading Scale   


Total – 1000 points 

  1. Reading Quizzes – 120 pts (6@20)  
  2. Mini-lecture Quizzes– 120 pts (6@20)  
  3. Discussions – 120 pts (6@20)  
  4. Research and Writing – 120 pts (6@20)
  5. Summary Assignments – 240 pts (6@40)  
  6. Midterm Essay – 100 pts (1@100)  
  7. Final Outline – 80 pts (1@80)  
  8. Final Essay – 100 pts (1@100)


Letter Grade

Total Points










< 599



Food History Course Schedule




Textbook Readings


July 10-15

Paleolithic Hunter, Fisher, Gatherer



July 16-22

Neolithic Food Transition

Standage, Intro, C h 1-2


July 23-29

Domestication & Agriculture

Standage, Ch 3 – 5


July 29

Midterm Essay - Ancient Foodways



July 30-Aug 5

Imperialism and Food Economies

Standage, C h 6 - 7


Aug 6-12

Agroindustry Economies

Standage, C h 8-10


Aug 13-19

Sustainable Food Supply

Standage, C h 11-12


Aug 20-23

Final Essay - Modern Foodways


The instructor reserves the right to change the course schedule as appropriate over the course of the term.


viii: House Rules  

Here are the rules for how we conduct ourselves during class sessions (or when handling course related business outside of class sessions). If you violate one of these rules once, I’ll let you know. If you violate that rule again, I’ll ask you to cease and desist. If you do it a third time, I’ll have to drop you from the course. These policies exist for one reason: to maintain an atmosphere in which everyone has the opportunity to learn. 


Course Check-In 

Your original attendance in this course will be verified during the Week 1 course check-in, which involves your completion of the following activities: reading the course syllabus and schedule, completion of the Orientation Quiz, Introductory E-mail to your professor, self-introduction on the course Discussion Board, and posting your perceptions in the Week 1 Discussion. 


Attendance Policies  

You must log-in to the course on a weekly basis throughout the term and respond to messages sent by your instructor. You must complete all the assignments in the course by their assigned due dates. 


Discussion Participation  

Students are expected to participate in all graded discussions. While there is great flexibility in online courses, this is not a self-paced course. You will need to participate in our discussions on at least two different days each week, with your first post due no later than Wednesday at 11:59 PM Eastern Time, your second no later Sunday at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. 


Assignment Due Dates 

Students are expected to keep up with the weekly schedule (see “Class Schedule”). Quizzes cannot be posted after the due date. To stay current, students should complete all formative assignments early in the week (by Wednesday at 11:59 PM Eastern Time) and summary assignments by the end of each week (by Sunday at 11:59 PM Eastern Time). Late assignments will lose 15% of the possible points for each day they are late. 


Missed Assignments  

I do not give make-up points and/or extra credit for missed assignments unless 1) you are excused in advance by me, your instructor, or 2) you provide proof of a medical or family emergency. 


ix: CCP and Departmental Policies 

Students with disabilities: Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) is committed to student success.  The student must take the lead in applying to the Center on Disabilities (COD) and submit requests for accommodations each term through COD. 


Accommodations are collaborative efforts between students, faculty and COD. Students with accommodations approved through COD are responsible for contacting the faculty member in charge of the course prior to or during the first week of the term to discuss accommodations. Students who believe they are eligible for accommodations but who have not yet obtained approval through COD should apply immediately at  


Additionally, Canvas, the learning management system through which this course is offered, provides a vendor statement certifying how the platform is accessible to students with disabilities. 


  1. Keep it professional/polite.

We live in a city that is not exactly world-famous for politeness. Sometimes we have to be very assertive to get what we need and to be treated fairly. Still, we need to leave that at the door when we come to class. We need to respect each other, even when we disagree. We need to keep the tone of our interactions polite and professional, whether in person or online. 


  1. You cheat, you fail.

The college’s rules for what constitutes plagiarism or academic dishonesty are very clear and it is incumbent upon you to familiarize yourself with them and abide by them. If I determine that you have violated these rules, you will be given an F for the course. In my experience at CCP, cheating on exams or quizzes is rare, but plagiarism of written work - usually in the form of cutting and pasting material from the internet into a research assignment and attempting to pass it off as original prose - happens fairly regularly and is depressingly easy to detect. 


Violations of academic integrity can include, but are not limited to, cheating and plagiarism.   Cheating is an intentional effort at deception or gaining of an unfair advantage in completing academic work.  Plagiarism is the act of appropriating the work of another person and passing it off as one’s own.  Any student who assists another in an activity that constitutes a violation of academic integrity is also responsible and accountable for such a violation.  


The following list is not exhaustive, but includes some common examples of plagiarism and cheating:  

  • copying original ideas, images, words, or design elements and using them without proper citation or permission of the author
  • creating a bibliography with fabricated sources or citing sources as references that were not used in the preparation of the report or essay
  • deceiving the instructor to get more time for an assignment or examination
  • hiring someone to write an essay or complete other assignments
  • collaborating with classmates or others on an assignment when the class rules explain that only individual work is permitted
  • using unauthorized electronic devices or software during an examination
  • allowing other students to copy exam responses or homework assignment answers so that they can pass it off as their own work


Violations of academic integrity will open a student to disciplinary action.   




x: Suggestions 

You have all the tools you need for doing well in this course at your disposal. You just have to use them. This section is not about rules, per se. It’s more about ways that I have seen students succeed in the past. Here are some things that have helped many people before you: 


Guidelines for a productive and effective online-classroom   

  1. The discussion board is a space to interact with your colleagues and discuss course topics. It is expected that each student will participate in a mature and respectful fashion.
  2. Posting of personal contact information is discouraged (e.g. telephone numbers, address, and personal website address).
  3. Participate actively in the discussions after you have watched the weekly lectures.
  4. Pay close attention to what your classmates write in their online comments. Ask clarifying questions when appropriate. These questions are meant to probe and shed new light.
  5. Think through and reread your comments before you post them.
  6. Assume the best of others in the class and expect the best from them.
  7. Value the diversity of the class. Recognize and value the experiences, abilities, and knowledge that each person brings to class.


  1. Read Like Malcolm X.

Malcolm X is maybe the greatest self-educated intellectual in American History, despite having dropped out of junior high school. What happened? Well, the short answer is that he served a six-year prison sentence while in his 20s and spent practically every waking minute of it reading. But he wasn’t just passing his eyes over the page. Every time he encountered a word he did not know, he looked it up in the dictionary and wrote it down. By the time he was released, he’d essentially given himself a first-rate university education. The point is that reading only works if you understand the concepts and the references, and so, when you encounter something unfamiliar in a text, you have to find out what it is before you move on to the next thing. Do this. It works.  


  1. Write like VS Naipul.

Good writing is easy. Bad writing is difficult. Yes, you read that correctly. So, if good writing is so easy, why is there so much bad writing in the world? I think the answer is that good writing is about simplicity, and people tend to mistrust simplicity. A common mistake, young writers make, is to over-adorn their words and sentences in order to appear sophisticated. But ironically, only once you stop doing this do you become a good writer.  


Here are some rules for young writers from the Trinidadian author VS Naipul:  

  1. Do not write long sentences.
  2. Each sentence should make a clear statement.
  3. Do not use big words.
  4. Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of.
  5. The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of color, size and number.
  6. Avoid the abstract.
  7. Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way.

This should also go without saying, but you must proofread work before you submit it. When you turn in an essay that spells the same word differently five or six times, it sends a very clear message to me that you just don’t care, either about the course or about your grade. 


  1. Get Outside Help.

There are plenty of people and institutions out there with a specific mandate to help you succeed as a college student. For starters, there’s me. You can and should visit me during my online office hours (or by appointment) to help you with problems you might encounter related to assigned readings or coursework. Second, there’s the Learning Lab, located in B128. The Learning Lab employs a room full of tutors to help you succeed in your classes at CCP. Finally, the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) offers free online tutoring for college students. All you need is a to register as a patron, something any Philadelphia resident can do.  Create an FLP Account.  


  1. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Nothing good or productive happens at the last minute. Trying to finish things in the final hours before a deadline guarantees sloppy work and increases the temptation to cross the line into academic dishonesty. 


Okay, that was a lot of information. Thank you for reading all of it so carefully. As you’ve probably heard me say already, this class requires considerable effort, but if you put the time in and do the work, you’ll find it’s not terribly difficult.   


The most important thing to remember is that I’m glad you’re here and I want you to succeed. 


Course Summary:

Date Details Due