Learning Abroad Center
people shopping at an Italian candy store

Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence

Info Session
LAC Program

Get a true taste of Italy by studying its sustainable food systems and the ethical and environmental considerations for food production and consumption.

Program Details

Taormina & Florence, Italy
May Session
Credit Type
Resident Credit
Learning Abroad Center

Program Eligibility

Student Type
UofM Students
Non UofM Students
Student Year
Graduate Students
Language Prerequisite
No language prerequisite


Food is a powerful teacher. Everyone must eat to survive no matter where they are on the planet. However, many of today’s most serious environmental problems are linked to food production activities, and some conclude that many of the world’s most productive agricultural systems cannot be sustained indefinitely as they are managed today. This course will introduce you to past and present Italian culture through the foods, their cultural importance, and the concepts of sustainability. Study aspects of sustainability and ethics in the context of cultural, social, economic, and environmental considerations in which food is produced, prepared, and eaten. We will discuss cultural myths and realities surrounding food, Italian culture, and rituals. You will also examine Italian attitudes toward food in relation to your own values and will be challenged to think about your own assumptions about food and the American relationship with food and its production systems. 

On-site support, orientation, information regarding cultural activities, and 24-hour emergency support is provided by ACCENT International Programs and BABILONIA – Center for Italian language and culture in Taormina, Sicily.

Housing & Meals

Students will live in shared housing with other program participants. Welcome and farewell meals, as well as some additional meals are included in the program fee. Additional meals can be prepared in the housing or taken at local eateries.


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

  • Lecture(s) on Sicilian history and food systems
  • A small biodynamic farm/vineyard tour
  • An organic farm/vineyard tour
  • A larger "conventional" farm/vineyard tour
  • Visits to local/regional food producers
  • Walking tour on the history of Florence
  • Tour of local markets
  • Tour of Benedictine Monastery
  • Cooking Class(es)
  • Tour of the Greek Theater
  • Visit to Aeolian Island Vulcano
  • Italian language lessons
  • Bike tour of Tuscany 


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.

It might be possible to deviate your return flight. Inquire with your program contact if interested.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe and discuss concepts of sustainability and engage in ethical debate as it applies to food systems and their cultural role historically and in contemporary society
  • Work in a group setting to develop reports and presentations describing the historical development, function, and sustainability of a selected number of Italian food systems
  • Locate and critically evaluate information about an Italian food system, its sustainable production philosophies, and ecological and socioeconomic characteristics
  • Identify and reflect on aspects of intercultural sensitivity and development
  • Develop independence by challenging yourself in a new environment
  • Explore a specific topic through experiential and interdisciplinary approaches
  • Function as an effective team member by utilizing your personal strengths in a group setting

Faculty & Staff

This Global Seminar is led by Mike White, Morse Alumni Distinguished Professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, as well as the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Faculty Affairs. Professor White has led similar programs to Italy focusing on food sustainability since 2007 and is proficient in Italian.

Program Structure

Program Level
3000 level coursework

One 3-credit course

Global Seminars are 3-week study abroad programs led by University of Minnesota faculty and staff that feature:

  • Intensive learning in a location that illuminates the topic
  • Small groups of 15–25 students
  • No prerequisites or language requirements
  • Included excursions and cultural activities
  • Instruction in English


This course will enable you to experience and understand globally important, sustainable systems and will encourage local, regional, and world citizenship. An enhanced understanding of how individual choices can impact the environment, the economy, and society will broaden your liberal education and arm you with experiences and skills to address difficult local and global issues. The experiential learning approach to this course is designed to profoundly educate you about ecological, economic, cultural, and ethical concerns involving sustainable food production and link your personal life to local and global issues of importance. Immersing into the food culture and unique "place" of Italy and its various regions will make the concepts of food, ethics, culture, sustainability and citizenship come alive in ways not otherwise possible. There you can observe the culture, taste the food, and speak to those who are deeply committed philosophically and morally to producing the world’s best foods in ways that respect the land, animals, the environment, and consumers. You will be assessed on pre-departure and in-country assignments. These will include papers, journals/reflections, and quizzes, as well as group assignments and presentations.

Receive credit for: CFAN 3516 Draft Syllabus

Liberal Education Fulfillments: The Environment and Global Perspectives themes

Fulfills: Major electives for ASNC and FSN majors

Dates Details

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

Term Program Dates Priority Application Deadline* Final Application Deadline
May Session 2022 May 13 – June 5, 2022 February 1, 2022 March 1, 2022

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 25 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.

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
May Session 2022 TBD TBD

Priority Deadline

If you apply by the priority deadline and confirm within the allotted time you will receive the published program fee. Applying after the priority deadline and/or not confirming within the allotted time means you may be subject to an airfare increase.


Program fees can vary widely due to location, cost of living, airfare, and program inclusions. The program fee generally includes tuition, group flight airfare, airport transfers, in-country program related transportation, housing, some meals, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, program administration, and international health insurance. Generally, the program fees range from $5,500–$7,500. You must also budget for passport and passport photos, some meals, textbooks, independent travel, and miscellaneous living expenses.

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.

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.

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.

May 2022


Be aware: Learning Abroad Center programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.


The COVID-19 vaccine is now approved by the FDA and has been added to the list of required vaccinations for study abroad. We encourage you to complete your COVID-19 vaccine 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.

If you do not meet the GPA requirement for this program you will be required to submit an additional essay. It will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when it has been added.

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.

Program Contact

For further information or questions about this program, email

Roslyn Udairam or call at 612.625.0475