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Tel: +39 055-2645910
Fax: +39 055-2646721

Institute at Palazzo Rucellai
Via della Vigna Nuova, 18
Florence, Italy 50123

Sustainable Food and Environmental Systems Program (SFESP) Fall 2014

Downloadable Brochure of the program - please click here
Downloadable Poster of the program - please click here

“We need people who think broadly and who understand systems,
connections, patterns, and root causes”
(David Orr) 

Our program invites students to explore the social, cultural, political, ecological and economic implications of how food is produced, transformed, distributed, prepared and consumed in Italy. 
Throughout an entire fall semester, students use interdisciplinary perspectives to understand, critique and work to improve global and local, industrial and traditional food systems.
The SEFSP is tailored for undergraduate students of agricultural sciences, environmental studies, nutrition science, economics, business administration, sociology and history, as well as for those generally interested in food and sustainability studies.


Multimedia classroom lessons (in English), thematic workshops, project-based group work, and a variety of outdoor experiences comprising hands-on activities are coordinated in an exciting and rich schedule. There are no pre-requisites.

For the Fall 2014, the following classes are offered:

• Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems. A Historical Perspective
P. Fischer, PhD - ISI Florence faculty (45 contact hours) 3 credits

• The Business of Sustainable Food Supply Chains in Italy
C. Woollard, MBA, ISI Florence - faculty (45 contact hours) 3 credits

• Sustainability of Food and Environmental Systems in the US and Italy: A Comparative Perspective
P. Miniutti, Phd; G. Risatti, PhD; C. Faustman, PhD – all UConn faculty (45 contact hours) 3 credits

Auxiliary Courses

• Italian Language: The Florence Experience
D. Marini, MA - ISI Florence faculty (60 contact hours) 4 credits

• Cultural Literacy Workshop
C. Tarchi, PhD - ISI Florence faculty (8 contact hours) 1 credit

Students will have the opportunity to learn directly from Italian farmers and producers, processors, sales and marketing professionals and chefs. Field experiences and study tours, ranging from one to four days, include:

Visiting dairy and livestock farms; learning how cheese and meet products are made

Experiencing life on typical Tuscan farms and learning organic winemaking at top wineries

Delving into the captivating/magnificent Florentine food system

Exploring biodiversity in a splendid Tuscan natural reserve at the seaside

Over the centuries, cities and provinces in Tuscany have developed invaluable models of sustainable food systems.
To shape and enrich contemporary research and debate about sustainable food systems, the SFESP relies on the centuries-old relationship between ‘città’ (city) and ‘contado’ (surrounding countryside), cutting-edge technology as well as the deep-rooted Tuscan sense of proportion and harmony, space and time, and respect for the environment.

The SFESP collaborates successfully with a variety of Tuscan farms, food and environmental groups, food processing and retail companies, restaurants and chefs as well as community-supported agriculture. 
It holds partnerships with high governmental and non-governmental organizations, such as the Tuscan Regional Government, the prestigious Georgofili Academy, Terra Futura (international sustainability fair), as well as Navdanya International. Moreover, it collaborates with prestigious Italian universities like the ‘Università degli Studi Firenze’, the ‘Università degli Studi di Pisa’ as well as the ‘Università di Bologna’.
The little pleasures of Italian life, the espresso break, the gelato, buying fresh vegetables in mom and pop shops, as well as the Italian approach to time become a natural part of the day. Join us for a true life-changing experience.

You will find the Institute a warm and welcoming place, with expert and accessible staff that always have time to answer questions or help with problems. There are two computer labs, a library, and student lounges. You will be housed in double or triple rooms in furnished apartments shared with other program participants.

The apartments have equipped kitchens and a washing machine, located in the center of town within walking distance from Palazzo Rucellai/Palazzo Bargagli.
Along your way, you might stop at your favorite coffee bar for a cappuccino and a pastry, gaze into shop windows at the artistically displayed goods, or marvel at major historical landmarks. The little pleasures of Italian life, the espresso break, the gelato, buying fresh vegetables from family-owned shops, and the Italian approach to time, become a natural part of the day. Weekly cultural activities in Florence include a gelato walk, organized soccer games, the Ferragamo shoe museum, the artisans' workshops, and the secret rooms Palazzo Vecchio. Optional day trips to Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano, offer new perspectives on Italy. A day trip to Chianti is the closing event of Orientation.