The UConn Sustainable Agriculture and Food Studies Program at the Institute at Palazzo Rucellai invites you to spend three months studying sustainable agriculture and food in Tuscany.
Cities and provinces such as Florence and Siena have become models of sustainable urban and rural development and landscape preservation. The historically close relationship between city and country, together with the deep-rooted Tuscan sense of proportion and harmony, space and time, respect for nature along with cutting edge technology, all shape and enrich contemporary sustainability research and debate, and hold invaluable lessons for all of us.
This program is designed for undergraduate students of agricultural sciences, economics and business administration, environmental studies, nutrition science, and students generally interested in food and sustainability studies. It further aims to provide students with a unique opportunity to develop global citizenship through awareness and understanding of cultural diversity abroad.
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Studies Program is distinctive both for its
interdisciplinary and comparative approach to sustainable agriculture and food and its combination of in-class teaching, field work and study tours. A strategic alliance with the Agricultural Department of the University of Florence provides further opportunity to make use of the connected university farm facilities (Villa Montepaldi) with its structured educational programs.
You will have the opportunity to experience a particularly rich food culture with innovative approaches to issues of environmental and economic sustainability and quality oriented food production and nutrition. Strong focus will be placed on the issues of organic farming, sustainable agriculture, and the defense of bio-diversity. You will also learn about the characteristics of food production which are either uniquely characteristic of, or particularly prevalent in, Italy.
You will follow an interdisciplinary set of class lectures on Italian Food History, Environmental Economics, Sustainable Agriculture and the Mediterranean Diet. Courses, taught by UConn and international on-site faculty, will make full use of the culture of the city and the region. Although no prior study of the language is required, you will enroll in the appropriate level of the "Florence Experience" course (I,II,III,IV), in which you will learn Italian in the classroom and through direct contact with many aspects of Italian culture.
- HIST 3993: The History of Food, Agriculture and Sustainability in Italy (3 cr)
- ARE 4393: Environmental Economics: Sustainable Rural Development in Tuscany (3cr)
- AH 4095: The Mediterranean Diet (3 cr)
- INTD 1993: The Florence Experience: Intensive Italian Language Course (4 cr)
- ANTH 1093: Cultural Literacy Workshop (1 cr)
Study Tours and Field Work
As part of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Studies Program you participate in a series of study tours, and field experiences, taking you out of the classroom and into direct contact with the people and places where food is made. You will have the opportunity to learn directly from Italian farmers and producers, processors, sales and marketing professionals and chefs. This innovative educational format is a key aspect in the learning experience provided by the program, during which theory and practice are synthesized into knowledge. Study tours and field experiences range from one to five days, and fall into two categories:
Food Product Study Tours and Field Experiences
focus on key Tuscan food items such as olive oil, wine, cheese or meat and give students, in smaller groups, the unique opportunity to get first-hand experiences from the farm to the fork. A concrete example: You will participate in the grape and olive harvests and you will become familiar with the opportunities and challenges of producing world-renowned wines and olive oils.
Food Culture Study Tours and Workshops
focus on the social, economic and cultural factors that have shaped food consumption practices and patterns in Tuscany and in Italy. The study tours and workshops will take full advantage of the rich Mediterranean cuisine and examine firsthand the profound role food plays in community, family, ethnicity, nutrition, health, and national identity. This will include visits to local markets and other on-site visits to provide a differentiated view of the cultural heritage of the Tuscan region as well as cooking lessons with local chefs to learn about the Mediterranean Diet. Program tutors are responsible for the planning of study trips, accompanying students and coordinating both learning and logistics.
You will find the Institute a warm and welcoming place, with an expert and accessible staff that always has time to answer a question or to help with a problem. There are two computer labs, a library, and a student lounge. 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.
The apartments are located in the center of town within walking distance of Palazzo Rucellai.
Along your way, you might stop at your favorite coffee bar for a cappuccino and a pastry, gaze into the shop windows at the artistically displayed goods, or marvel at major artistic, historical landmarks.
The little pleasures of Italian life, the espresso break, the gelato, buying fresh vegetables in mom and pop 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 and to Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano, offer new perspectives on other parts of Italy. A day trip to Chianti is the closing event of Orientation.