Nutrition and Food Science with a concentration in Applied Nutrition

The course requirements listed below apply to those students admitted on or after Fall 2014. Anyone admitted prior to this term should refer to their Analysis of Academic Progress on WESS or see your academic advisor for your official program of study.

The Applied Nutrition concentration will give students the opportunity to acquire and hone their skills in chronic disease prevention techniques that target the entire community, and not just individuals. Using the socio-ecological approach as a guiding framework, the curriculum acknowledges the role of multiple levels of influence on the nutritional health of a community including individual characteristics (knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and values), interpersonal dynamics and relationships (social support and size of social networks), environmental characteristics (neighborhood food and nutrition resources), and the institutional context (social and policy environments). By examining how these multilevel influences interact to create health disparities among different segments of the population, the program aims to train practitioners to help community-based agencies fulfill their mission of promoting nutritional health among large and diverse sections of the population.

The science of applied nutrition is interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to focusing on how each major and minor nutrient is digested, absorbed, metabolized and utilized by the human body, applied nutritionists often examine the relationships among food choices, their social and environmental determinants, and community health. In keeping with this approach, students in the Applied Nutrition concentration will be given the unique opportunity to combine their coursework in nutrition with courses from other disciplines. They will be required to select a minor from a list of program options including Communication Studies, Journalism, Gerontology, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health, and Sociology.

Such a program of study is best suited to those who are keen on applying their knowledge of nutrition in a tangential, but specialized field including weight loss consulting, nutrition communication, public health systems, social services, elder care services, food retail, and the agri-food sector, to name a few. Graduates may also choose to pursue advanced studies in any of these areas for a more long-term and promising career in the community, teaching, research, or business.

The broad and overarching goal of the Applied Nutrition concentration are to inculcate in students a strong theoretical foundation in nutritional status assessment and monitoring, especially as it relates to disease prevention in the community. At the same time, students will learn how to interpret and apply this knowledge in a real-world setting. Traditional classroom techniques will be complemented by a community service-oriented learning component. The students’ educational experience will be enriched through projects, fieldwork, professional activities, and internship placements in grassroots community-based organizations and other local, state and national nutrition services with which the program’s coordinator and faculty members have established professional ties.

The specific objectives of the program are:

  1. To prepare practitioners with skills in performing group-level nutritional needs assessments in the community.
  2. To prepare practitioners with skills in analyzing gaps in existing policies, and planning appropriate population-based nutrition education initiatives.
  3. To prepare practitioners who are committed to social justice and the elimination of health disparities in their community using advanced-level critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  4. To contribute to a diverse applied nutrition workforce by developing and nurturing a diverse student body representing multiple cultural, educational and professional backgrounds.
  5. To collaborate with other professionals in the field and work together to advance the standing of the applied nutrition profession.