CCGL9017 Global Issues

Food: Technology, Trade and Culture

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Non-Permissible Combination:
CCGL9041 You, Food and the City: Local and Global Food Networks

Course Description

Why do we eat what we eat? Where does the food come from? What makes for “desirability” or sensory quality in food? How and why did global trade develop around the production and shipping of food? What are the historical roots of the modern-day globalized food industry? This course will offer an in-depth look at key issues in the economic history of global trade in food, in processing foods for optimum quality, and the development of markets for new products. Examples will be drawn from commodities – such as salt, sugar or spices; major beverages – such as wine or coffee; and newly globalized products – such as pizza or chocolate. The major themes of the course are:

  • The historical development of food commodity trading
  • The globalization of food preferences
  • The definition, development and spread of “new” products
  • The understanding of some basic underlying technology/science in the production and processing of major foods.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain the origin, production, and processing of a range of key food materials and food products.
  2. Outline the history of global trade in selected food commodities and products, showing an understanding of how this impacted economic development and cultural change.
  3. Appreciate the massive changes in the dietary culture of a “global city” such as Hong Kong over the past 30 years.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to investigate a topic within the subject matter of the course, and apply new methodologies and paradigms to summarize and present the results.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Seminars 6
Reading / Self-study 30
Research and development of project 20
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 10
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 48
Total: 150

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation 10
Short critical reports 20
Project development 20
Project outcome and presentation 50

Required Reading

  • Pomeranz, K., & Topik, S. (2006). The world that trade created: Society, culture, and the world economy, 1400 to the present (2nd ed.). Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Recommended Reading

  • Kurlansky, M. (1997). Cod: A biography of the fish that changed the world.
  • Standage, T. (2009). An edible history of humanity. New York: Walker & Co.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr T. Sobko
School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2831 5261
Email: tsobko@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr T. Sobko
School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2831 5261
Email: tsobko@hku.hk
Professor D.L. Phillips
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2859 2160
Email: phillips@hku.hk
Dr E.J. Pickett
Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 1286
Email: epickett@hku.hk
Dr K. Mak
Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 7851
Email: mkwkaren@hku.hk