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LAW 1050: Law, Legal Theory, and Global & Local Food Systems
Spring 2023 • Section 21 • CRN 51219

Course Description

Debates about how food is produced and distributed are often debates about the structure of economic exchange—and thus also debates about the legal rules that govern markets. This seminar uses the production and distribution of food to study the role of law in economic development. We will begin this seminar with history—specifically a history of law and development that traces shifts in dominant ideas of law and development over the twentieth century. We will then study three global shifts in the structure of agricultural production, distribution and trade that roughly parallel this historical periodization. Throughout this investigation, we will ask how law and legal theory shapes food systems and facilitates their transformation and, in turn, how food law and food systems have contributed to development and, sometimes, baffled or misdirected it, producing a great deal of inequality and suffering in their wake. We will look at specific areas of food law and policy including trade liberalization, food aid, land (land reform and land grabs), and biotechnology. We will end the seminar with hopeful contemporary case studies on topics including fair trade, food sovereignty, and food cooperatives. Here, we will pay particular attention to how different actors use law to challenge economic concentration and inequality in global and local food systems and thus how these actors promote particular ideas of social and economic justice and market reform.


Day/Time Location
W 10:00-11:50 AM Klein 6B

Course Details

  • Amy Cohen
Credit Hours

3 Credits



Course Type
  • Writing
Course Modality


Fulfills J.D. Requirement
  • Writing Serial


Registration Info

No Registration Restrictions.

Book List/Materials