George Mason University Understands Need for Alcohol Awareness Class

by: Mike Miller

What is college life really about? What do most students get out of their four or more years at the university?

Widening your world view and learning about alcohol consumption are probably the two most common lessons college students take away from university life. Beginning this fall, George Mason University near Washington, D.C.  is offering a class that combines these lessons as part of the curriculum under the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies.

“This class is sort of half experience, half analytical,” said Professor Gabriella Petrick, who teaches the new 3-credit elective Global Health Perspectives on Alcohol. The goal, she said, is to give students “a much greater appreciation of the role that alcohol plays in society. The good and the bad.”

Last week, students gathered in Mason’s nutrition lab a kitchen in the old Metro Diner in Fairfax City to brew beer. Students teamed in groups of about three to make ales such as a festive Christmas-style ale with cinnamon, an Apricot Harvest Wit ale for fall, and a Belgian-style ale. While gathering around tall silver caldrons used to boil water, students added mull extract, orange peel, yeast, hops and other ingredients from their recipe lists to the pots.

Is this Class Really Educational?

During the semester, which ends in December, students will study the history of beer and wine production, learn how grapes are grown and the process of making wine and how grains are malted and turned into beer. They will discuss the social and cultural aspects of alcohol consumption including lessons on the American Prohibition era.

Assignments for the course include two research papers, one on the course material and the other on an aspect of health, social and cultural trends shown through a specific type of alcohol such as vodka.

About 300 students are enrolled in courses offered by the new Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, which began because of heavy interest among students. This includes a cooking group called CAFÉ-GMU, which was started by about 30 students last year and quickly grew to more than 100, she said.

You know my philosophy, there can never be too much education. Perhaps combine this with a nice 24-hour online alcohol class.