Center for Sustainable Food Systems

Sustaining Traditions: Food, Farming, and Climate

Italy
Semester
15 Weeks
18 Credits
Fall 2024
Sep 1 - Dec 12
Closed
Spring 2025
Jan 27 - May 9
Open
Program Costs
  • Tuition$17,000
  • Room & Board$5,500
  • Total$22,500
Application Deadlines
Fall 2024
May 1, 2024
Spring 2025
November 1, 2025
Semester Program

Sustaining Traditions: Food, Farming, and Climate

Tuscany,
Italy

In the heart of the Tuscan countryside, explore sustainable and traditional food systems offered as alternatives to industrial food production. Explore the diverse topography of central Italy and its distinct ecosystems that have, over thousands of years, shaped unique food traditions and production practices. Hike through sun-baked Tuscan hillsides, saltwater marshes, and wolf-inhabited forests while learning from olive growers, viticulturists, fishers, and shepherds about the complex interdisciplinary issues of traditional and present-day Italian agriculture.

Program highlights: 

  • Visit the coastal area of Maremma to tour a sustainable artisanal fishery and local farms, coming face to face with endangered heritage breeds of livestock
  • Research creative farmer-driven responses to climate pressures on their olive groves and vineyards
  • Discuss with livestock shepherds how the Foreste Casentinesi National Park balances wolf conservation with predation pressure on their herds
  • Embark on a weeklong excursion to Sicily to experience the contrasting Greek- and Arab-influenced culture, food, and history
  • Join Italian families for cooking lessons and cultural immersion in exchange for English conversation through the “Cucina for English” initiative
  • Conduct a comprehensive field research project: Develop a research question, collect, and analyze data, complete a research paper, and present your findings to the community.

Academics

This rigorous academic program follows a five-day/week schedule. Each program combines theory learned during classroom sessions with field-based applications. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand through classroom work, intensive field trips, and experiential learning, the complexities of balancing conservation with social and economic issues.

Major academic themes include: 

  • Environmental, sociocultural, and economic dimensions of food systems 
  • The intersections of food production, biodiversity conservation, environmental policy, and climate change  
  • Agroecological practices and sustainable management of food systems 
  • Food systems policy objectives and implementation 

Courses

Students will gain knowledge and make use of practical research field tools and instruments such as: research design and implementation, quantitative/qualitative data collection and analysis, questionnaire development, stakeholder interviews, basic statistical analysis, monetary valuation techniques, multicriteria analysis, biodiversity assessments, population monitoring, animal behavior observation, GIS and mapping, biodiversity survey techniques, scientific writing, and communication.

Click on the
to view a description and download the syllabus.
SFS 3753
Food Systems Resource Management
4 credits
SFS 2031
Language and Culture of Italy
2 credits
SFS 3082
Agri-environmental Policy and Socio-Economic Values
4 credits
SFS 3591
Food Systems Ecology
4 credits
SFS 4971
Directed Research – Italy
4 credits

Core Skills

Students will gain knowledge and make use of practical research field tools and instruments such as: research design and implementation, quantitative/qualitative data collection and analysis, questionnaire development, stakeholder interviews, basic statistical analysis, monetary valuation techniques, multicriteria analysis, biodiversity assessments, population monitoring, animal behavior observation, GIS and mapping, biodiversity survey techniques, scientific writing, and communication.

Field Sites

The practical lessons will take place in three different areas of Tuscany. The first, in Chianti, located in central Tuscany, is a hilly system mainly suited to the cultivation of vine and olive trees mixed with woodland;  the second, in Mugello, an agricultural and forested area a few km north of Florence, gateway to the Apennines, a valley surrounded by hills and mountains, famous for its pastures, agroforestry crops and its chestnut groves, a typical cultivation of the Tuscan Apennines and of the adjacent Casentino, characterized by large forests; the third, in Maremma, extends from the coast through large reclaimed wetlands used for agriculture interspersed with lagoons, as well as several coastal fossil islands with Mediterranean macchia and holm oak woods.


Other Italy Programs

Semester

Sustaining Traditions: Food, Farming, and Climate

15 Weeks
18 Credits
Fall 2024
Sep 1 - Dec 12
Closed
Spring 2025
Jan 27 - May 9
Open

More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$17,000
  • Room & Board$5,500
  • Total$22,500

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