Study of the science of human nutrition provides a relevant and fascinating way to familiarize students with fundamental biological principles that will be useful to them in their daily lives. Examining nutrition around the world allows a glimpse into the various roles that food plays in our health, welfare, culture, and social interactions. Topics to be considered include: The chemical composition of the body; the molecular structure and function of the different kinds of nutrients required by humans; the metabolic processes that transform food into energy and the chemical building blocks for the creation and renewal of cellular structures; and the basic scientific principles of energy balance that determine weight gain or weight loss, as governed by diet and exercise. With this foundation in hand, the course will address local solutions to nutritional needs, such as the principal food sources consumed by peoples around the world, cultural influences on food choices, food sufficiency, and the relationship between proper nutrition and health maintenance. As we circle the globe, we will sample the food and participate in the food culture of the countries we visit.
Field WorkCountry: China
Day: 1 or 6
Due to the large size of this Global Comparative Lens course, the class will be divided into two groups. Each group will survey a food market in one of our Chinese ports-of-call. The goal of the survey will be to understand how the common nutritional needs (energy from carbohydrate, fat and/or protein, minerals, vitamins) are met by people shopping at the market through the purchases they might make. Students will be expected to note the items available, how these items contribute to nutrition (or not), how much they cost, and how satisfaction of nutritional requirements can be achieved by making informed choices. After the market visit, we will return to the ship to hear on-board lectures from prominent Chinese scientists regarding biological research relevant to nutrition. Group 1 will be bused to a large food market in Shanghai on the morning of February 3. The group will stroll through the market, surveying the foods available, and noting the nutrition these foods provide and their cost. Group 1 will then return to the ship to hear a lecture and presentations from Professor Liping Zhao, the Director of the Laboratory of Nutritional Systems Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Professor Zhao is a leading researcher in the influence of the human gut microbiome (the totality of all micro-organisms in the human gut) in human health and nutrition. Group 2 will visit Wanchai Street Market, on Hong Kong Island, on the morning of February 8, surveying the foods available, and noting the nutrition these foods provide and their cost. Group 2 will then return to the ship to hear a lecture and presentations by Dr. Samuel S-M Sun, Research Professor of Biology and Director of the State Key Lab of Agrobiotechnology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and his colleagues. Professor Sun is a leading authority on the application of agricultural biotechnology to improve food nutrition and health. Academic Objectives: The purpose of the field laboratory experience is to train students to think about strategies for meeting their nutritional needs through sound nutritional practices. As we travel beyond China, students can survey the local food, including personal tours of local food markets in the countries we visit. Further, they will be expected to make observations about food consumed in local restaurants or available from street vendors. The field laboratory assessment will be based on a 1,000-word paper in which the student provides a written evaluation of the nutritional culture in a country we visited, and how they met their nutritional needs in that country by the food choices they made.