This program is designed for undergraduate students of agricultural sciences, environmental studies, economics and business administration, nutrition science, and students generally interested in food and sustainability studies.
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program is distinctive for its interdisciplinary and comparative approach to sustainable agriculture and food as well as its combination of in-class teaching, fieldwork and study tours. It includes several innovative features designed to help students acquire the knowledge and skills for developing and working towards sustainable farming systems.
• multicultural perspectives
• interdisciplinary depth
• systems thinking
• skill development
• experiential learning
• linking the real world with the classroom
• community building
Students will have the opportunity to experience a particularly rich and ‘strong’ food culture through historical yet innovative approaches to environmental and economic sustainability and quality-oriented food production and nutrition. Strong focus will be placed on alternative farming methods and bio-diversity conservation.
(1) Core Courses
(2) Auxiliary Courses
(3) Field Experiences and Study Tours
(4) Guest Lectures
(5) Optional Service- Learning Internship (in preparation)
(1) Three Core Courses (with 45 contact hours each):
• Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. An Environmental History Perspective (Peter Fischer, PhD, ISI Florence, 3 Credits)
On this course students develop a coherent analytical framework for understanding key ideas and issues informing the debate about sustainable agri-food systems today. They will investigate historical examples and sustainable models exploring the evolution of different approaches towards agriculture and food from the earliest hunting and gathering societies to present industrial societies.
• Sustainable Rural Development in Tuscany: Agricultural and Environmental Economics (Riccardo Simoncini, PhD, Università di Firenze, 3 Credits)
This course addresses the economics of rural development and agro-environmental policies in rural areas. The overall objective is to develop a comprehensive analytical framework to help students understand sustainable development theories. Students will learn how these can be used to achieve efficient rural development and properly deliver agro- environmental goods and services.
• Sustainable Environmental, Food and Agricultural Systems in Italy and the U.S. (3 Credits)
Sustainable food, environment, and agriculture systems will be explored using past and current literature. A comparative approach will be applied to investigate examples from Italy and the U.S. The course will have three sections and will be team-taught:
o Environmental Sustainability (John Volin, PhD, UConn)
This course section will focus on concepts of environmental and natural resources systems.
o Sustainability of Agricultural and Food Production Systems (Sheila Andrew, PhD, Cameron Faustman, PhD, both UConn)
These two course sections will focus on the basic concepts pertaining to sustainable development of food systems.
(2) Two Auxiliary Courses (with 60 and 8 contact hours):
• The Florence Experience (David Marini, MA, ISI Florence, 4 Credits)
This interdisciplinary course focuses on achieving a basic level of cultural and linguistic-communicative competence (speaking, listening, writing, reading) for everyday life activities. It introduces students to various relevant aspects of contemporary Florentine life and Italian culture. In addition to classroom work, a series of on-site encounters are included.
• Cultural Literacy Workshops (Christian Tarchi, PhD, ISI Florence, 1 Credit)
Through a series of special workshops students will be exposed to the values, beliefs, ethical norms, and the way of thinking of Italians. They will develop basic skills to understand the multicultural environment and deepen their appreciation of cultural similarities as well as differences between the U.S. and Italy. These skills will assist students in their successful interaction with the local community.
(3) Field Experiences and Study Tours
To synthesize theory and praxis into knowledge, students will participate in a series of study tours and field experiences in Tuscany. They will have the opportunity to learn directly from Italian farmers and producers, processors, sales and marketing professionals and chefs. Field experiences and study tours range from one to four days, falling in two categories:
focus on key Italian food items such as wine, extra virgin olive oil, cheese, giving students the unique opportunity to get first-hand experiences from the farm to the fork. Through participation in the olive harvest and in the making of wine, they will become familiar with the opportunities and challenges of sustainable food production.
focus on concrete sustainability initiatives in Florence and in Tuscany. These study tours will take full advantage of the rich Tuscan food culture, by first-hand experiencing the profound role that food plays on the community, family, and national identity. Visits to Tuscan farms, to food processing and distribution facilities as well as to restaurants in Florence are included. There will be also a day trip to one of the major National Parks in Tuscany. Program tutors are responsible for accompanying students and coordinating both learning and logistics.
(4) Guest Lectures and Workshops
Students will enjoy a series of guest lectures on a variety of topics, from water and energy use, to food consumption and waste production The focus will be understanding how these issues affect a sustainable society and our personal lifestyles.
(5) Optional Internships (In Preparation)
During the summer, students will have the opportunity to work with qualified local organizations on specific aspects of sustainable food and agriculture systems. These organizations focus on production, food processing, distribution, administration, or communication. A good knowledge of Italian is essential.
THE INSTITUTE AND FLORENCE
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 townwithin walking distance from Palazzo Rucellai/Palazzo Bargagli.
Established in 2009, the SAFSP is offered every fall semester. It has created a distinguished interdisciplinary faculty, composed of international scholars from the University of Connecticut, the University of Florence and the International Studies Institute in Florence.
It successfully collaborates with a variety of Tuscan conventional, organic and biodynamic farms and community supported agriculture groups.
The SAFSP has also tied partnerships with high governmental and non-governmental organizations such as the Regional Government of Tuscany and its agencies, Terra Futura (annual International Sustainability Fair in Florence), ‘Intoscana’ (Tuscany’s official web portal), the prestigious ‘Georgofili Academy’, the Sustainability Network ZOES, and the Florence based NGO ‘Navdanya International’. Finally, the SAFSP also works together with the Slow Food Organization.