• Grenoble Ecole de Management
  • École hôtelière de Lausanne

The Politics and Diplomacy of Cooking and Hospitality

Make sense of eating and drinking in national and international relations – from preparing food to seating and serving guests.

7,042 enrolled on this course

Medieval painting depicting a banquet
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Diplomacy and hospitality are similar in many ways: they bring people from various cultural and social origins together, and make them temporarily equal.

In national and international politics, the ritual of meal preparation can help mitigate potentially contentious relationships – or initiate a long series of feuds. Table manners can be the source of pride and distinction. Taste is an inexhaustible topic of conversation and debate. Moreover, the art of seating, serving and addressing guests according to their importance – far from being outdated – is still important in today’s globalised world.

We should not take all this for granted, though. Why do we have so much culinary diversity? Recipes and means of reception are designed by cultures rather than dictated by nature. They are as much markers of local identity, as they are a sign that we all belong to the same global civilization.

Discover how cooking and hospitality reflects politics

This free online course will help you understand the ethnological and diplomatic implications behind the culinary arts and how to properly host guests.

Developed jointly by the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and Grenoble Ecole de Management, the course will use diverse examples from around the world, plus the work of historians, philosophers, anthropologists and political scientists, to highlight the role of hospitality in national and international politics.

Gain insights into cultural and intercultural issues

Through the course, you will:

  • gain a better understanding of politics through the study of interpersonal relationships;
  • deepen your knowledge of diplomacy and learn more about hospitality as an exercise in atonement;
  • gain insights into cultural and intercultural issues, and how mundane tasks can affect the vision people have of the world, or help them learn the basics of national and international cooperation or competition;
  • compare various lifestyles, and surprising cultural practices and habits;
  • become familiar with the use of soft power in “gastrodiplomacy” or “culinary diplomacy”
  • and broaden your vision of the business of hospitality.
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What topics will you cover?

Week 1: Is there a Politics to Eating and Drinking?

  • How to make the best use of this course?
  • Is every meal political?
  • The importance of being human
  • There is no such a thing as a free lunch

Week 2: Is the diplomatic use of gastronomy leading to a World Order?

  • National uses of gastronomy
  • Diplomatic uses of hospitality

Week 3: Is private sociability conducive to appropriate behaviour as a citizen?

  • Meeting foreigners
  • Accommodating guests

Week 4: Are public banquets different from family dinners?

  • No, there is some formalism in informal meetings
  • Yes, public banquets are even more formal

Week 5: A philosophy of food and mood

  • Culinary and cosmic orders
  • Social orders

Week 6: Gastronomy, Hospitality and cultural orders

  • Is cooking and hosting possible without organization?
  • How does differentiation impact cooking and hospitality?
  • Conclusion

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Apply hospitality knowledge to the realm of social sciences
  • Assess your ability to be a good host and a good diplomat
  • Compare different lifestyles and traditions
  • Experiment counterfactual reasoning

Who is the course for?

This course is primarily designed for those who want to understand why we are so obsessed with food, and what actually happens when we invite friends to eat or drink, or accept to be their guests.

It will be particularly useful for those who plan to study or work in the culinary and hotel management fields; those who already work in these fields, and want to deepen their understanding of these issues; and those who study humanities, social sciences, biology and nutrition, and want to enhance their knowledge of the social ties and potential conflicts that stem from food.

Who will you learn with?

Pr. of political science, University of Grenoble Alpes & Institut Universitaire de France (Global & Comparative Politics); visiting scholar, Grenoble Ecole de Management

English teacher, Sciences Po Grenoble, University of Grenoble Alpes. Academic advisor to International students. BA in business administration and hospitality mgt, MA political discourse analysis

Who developed the course?

Grenoble Ecole de Management

For the past 30 years, Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) has established itself in France and abroad as a leading business school through expertise in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

École Hôtelière de Lausanne

École Hôtelière de Lausanne is a hospitality management school in Switzerland. The school is consistently regarded as the best hospitality school in the world.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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Join the conversation on social media

You can use the hashtag #FLhospitality to talk about this course on social media.