Learning Abroad Center
Town square in Montpellier

Gruel to Gourmet: Food Systems, Culture, History, & Sustainability in France

LAC Program

This embedded study abroad course will explore aspects of food, animal, and plant agricultural systems, in addition to culture in France.

Program Details

Montpellier, France
Spring Break
Languages Taught In
Languages Taught In

Program Eligibility

Student Type
Student Type
UofM Students
Student Year
Student Year
No Requirement


Food systems are an integral part of culture and it is important to gain understanding about how cultural food choices can have ethical, environmental and health consequences. Learning about aspects of the French food system and how it has evolved while maintaining its unique culture, high quality and sustainability even in this modern age of globalization and homogenization can give students insights into different ways of thinking about sustainability and the food they eat.

Since everyone must eat to survive, it is important that we increase our understanding of the ecological, cultural and ethical aspects of food production and consumption in order to be better global citizens. Many of today’s most serious environmental problems intersect with food production activities and some conclude that many of the world’s most productive agricultural systems cannot be sustained indefinitely at current productivity levels.

We will learn the principles of environmental science, aspects of societal and economic structures in order to study aspects of sustainability in the context of cultural, social, economic and environmental considerations in which food is produced and consumed. We will discuss the cultural and environmental myths and realities surrounding food production, habits of consumption through a lens of French food culture and rituals. We will also examine French attitudes towards food in relation to your own, and we will be challenged to think about our own assumptions about food and the American relationship with food and its food systems.

Program Model


Housing & Meals

You will live in shared rooms with fellow program participants. Welcome and farewell meals, and some additional meals are included in the program fee. We will take additional meals at local restaurants and eateries.


While on the program, you will learn about and experience a variety of aspects in relation to food systems. Excursions/activities in and around Montpellier may include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Visits to vineyards and olive groves
  • Visits to organic or biodynamic farms
  • Visits to various animal farming operations- dairy, goats, oysters/mussels, fishing, poultry, snails
  • Lecture(s) on French history and food systems
  • Visits to local/regional food producers
  • Walking tour of Montpellier
  • Tour of local markets
  • French language lessons


All program participants will take the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight; you will receive information from the Learning Abroad Center about your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed.

Learning Outcomes

  • Socialize as global professionals who understand that human interaction and culture are relevant to achieving professional goals
  • Discover and connect with the University of Minnesota campus and community
  • Think critically, analyze topics, and appreciate diverse perspectives through pre-departure coursework, studying abroad, and guided reflection
  • Function as an effective team member by utilizing personal strengths in a group setting
  • Develop an understanding of the importance of future international and intercultural learning
  • Understand the role of creativity, innovation, discovery, and expression across disciplines
  • Acquire skills for effective citizenship and lifelong learning

Faculty & Staff

This Global Seminar is led by Mike White, Morse Alumni Distinguished Professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. Professor White has led programs to Italy focusing on food sustainability since 2007.

Program Structure

Program Level
1000-level course

One 3-credit course

Course Schedule

This is an on-campus class during spring semester. On-campus spring semester 2023 course meets: Wednesdays from 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. St. Paul campus. Abroad term: Spring Break 2023


NEW TITLE: A late change to the course title occurred in November. You will find the course in UMN course search as "Fork to Fine Dining: Food Systems and Sustainability in France."

This embedded study abroad course will explore aspects of food, animal, and plant agricultural systems, in addition to culture in France. In this course, you’ll examine the concepts of sustainability in relation to food production and culture in a country and place where food is a fundamental component of the regional and national culture. This course will introduce you to past and present French culture through the foods, their cultural importance, and the concepts of sustainability.

Coursework for the semester will include short papers, quizzes, guided reflections, journals, and a group project.

Receive Credit for: AnSc 1903

Liberal Education Fulfillments: The Global Perspectives and Environment themes

This program is open to all students, however the content is aimed at first year and transfer students.

COVID-19 Information

A COVID vaccination and booster is required by the onsite partner at this location. In addition, local regulations still apply. Admission and participation in areas of this program may require accessing venues or public transportation which require proof of COVID-19 vaccination/booster. Participants will be required to present valid proof of vaccination/booster to gain entrance or will not be able to participate in this portion of the program. Participants are responsible for working with leaders to find an acceptable alternative. Refer to the Apply tab for further details.

Dates Details

Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:

Term Program Dates Application Deadline
Spring Break 2023 March 3 - March 12, 2023 December 12, 2022

This program departs for France on Friday, March 3. If you have any classes on that date, you may need to miss them in order to travel.

Program dates are subject to change.

If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

Important Note: Enrollment on this program is limited to 20 students. Admission is granted on a rolling basis and applications are reviewed in the order they are completed. Some programs may fill to capacity prior to the application deadline, therefore applying early is recommended. Additionally, applying early will allow for more time to plan ahead and prepare for the program.


Join in-person or over Zoom. Register and learn more about this and other events on this website.

Date Time Location
Thurs. Sept. 22 10:00am Peik 225
Wed. Sept. 28 2:00pm Bruininks 123
Thurs. Oct. 6 12:00pm Bruininks 123/Zoom Link (email [email protected] for ID/Passcode)
Thurs. Nov. 17 12:30pm HHH 289
Mon. Nov. 21 12:30pm HellerH 230C

On Campus Dates

Wednesdays from 3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. St. Paul campus.

Orientation Dates & Locations

Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

Term Abroad Date/Time Location
Spring Break 2023 TBD TBD


Spring Break 2023 Cost of Participation

The program fee includes airfare, housing, program administration, welcome and farewell meals, some additional meals, international health insurance, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, airport transfers, and in-country transportation for all course related activities. Students must also budget for passport and passport photos, a few meals, spending money, and miscellaneous living expenses.

If a student is required to isolate during the program dates, due to Covid-19, there may be an additional cost for the isolation period. Additional housing costs might also be covered by the onsite partner's insurance plan. In some cases, with agreement by students and prior approval from the university, roommates, apartment-mates or students who are in close contact with each other and who both test positive, may share a room in quarantine housing, in accordance with local regulations. This information is subject to change and will be updated accordingly.

If you do not see a budget estimate for the term you intend to go abroad, the fee has not yet been finalized. We strive to post fees for this program at least 30 days prior to the application deadline. The Learning Abroad Center will delay the posting of some fees until enrollments, inflation and exchange rates are determined. Note the average increase in fees will be 3–10%. Program fees are based on estimates and may change depending on international economic factors.

If you are registered for less than 13-credits, or if you are a non-UofM student, you will be charged tuition for this course in addition to the program fee.  Notify the Learning Abroad Center if this applies to you.

Billing & Payments

Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

Bridging Loan

Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

Cancellation Policy

Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.

Spring Break 2023

Gruel to Gourmet: Food Systems, Culture, History, & Sustainability in France

Spring Break 2023

Program Fee

  • UofM students pay program fee instead of on-campus tuition & fees while abroad
  • Billed through UofM account
Non-refundable deposit $400
Tuition and educational costs $2,264
International health insurance $26
Housing and/or mealsDaily breakfast, 5 lunch or dinners included. $425
Transportation (if required and included in program fee)Group flight $1,445
Total Program Fee $4,560
Program discount for University of Minnesota and Big Ten students, if applicable $0
Total Program Fee with discount, if applicable $4,560

Estimated Additional Expenses

  • Financial aid-eligible but not included in program fee
Costs Typically Incurred Prior to Departure These costs may need to be paid before your financial aid is disbursed for your term abroad.
Transportation to and from program site $0
Passport/photos $150
Visa/required documents $0
Travel clinic/immunizations*Visit your travel clinic and consult for any costs $50
Housing deposit $0
Total Estimated Cost Incurred Prior to Departure $200
Costs Typically Incurred After Arrival in Host Country
Texts/materials $0
Housing and/or meals not included in program feeAdditional cost of housing in case of the cost of required quarantine not included here. Contact the LAC to have this added to your SACE. $250
Essential daily living expensesphone credit/charges, etc. $150
Total Estimated Cost Incurred After Arrival in Host Country $400

Total Estimated Cost of Participation

  • UofM students—compare this to your estimated on campus cost of attendance
Total Estimated Cost of Participation $5,160
Spending money and personal travel Not included in financial aid calculation $200
Additional Notes & Information
* Immunizations Note: This estimate is based on approximate cost of travel-related vaccinations and medications required for entry or recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your costs may be higher or lower depending on your travel clinic, the specific immunizations and medication prescribed, and your insurance coverage.


Current US passport processing times are longer than normal. If you do not have a passport, or your passport expires less than 6 months after your return date from your time abroad, apply for a new passport now.

COVID-19 Information

A COVID-19 vaccine and booster are required by our on-site partner for this location. This may change before departure. Exemptions will not be accepted. Participants are also expected to follow local and governmental COVID-19 guidelines and requirements such as masking, social distancing, or curfews. Admission and participation in areas of this program may require accessing venues or public transportation which require proof of COVID-19 vaccination and these requirements could be updated before departure or during the program. Participants will be required to present valid proof of vaccination to gain entrance or will not be able to participate in this portion of the program. Visit the CDC International Travel and the LAC COVID-19 Protocols or LAC COVID Policies websites for updated information.

U.S. Consulate in France COVID-19 site (current updates on entry/exit and local requirements).

More information can be provided during advising sessions and pre-departure orientation with the program contact in the LAC.


The COVID-19 vaccine and booster are required by the host country and/or on-site partners and facilities for most study abroad programs. Complete your COVID-19 vaccine doses immediately.

You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.

Apply Now


After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

  • Application Essay

Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

Next Steps

After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.

Register for On-Campus Course

Your participation on this program is secured by applying and confirming through the Learning Abroad Center application process.

You will also need to register for the on-campus course AnSc 1903.

Note: Registering for the course, but not confirming through the Learning Abroad Center, will not hold your spot in the program.

After You Apply

Before your program begins, review these resources.

Health & Safety

Learn more about staying healthy and safe abroad, including mental health and wellness, international travel insurance, and safety precautions.

Power of Attorney

Consider designating someone as your power of attorney to act as your legal representative while you’re abroad.

Student Identity

Consult our resources on student identities as you prepare for your abroad experience.

Travel Resources

Ready to go abroad? Our travel resources will help you pack and learn what to expect.

Program Contact

For further information or questions about this program, email

Jemma Lund or call at 612.625.8827