Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence
Get a true taste of Italy by studying its sustainable food systems and the ethical and environmental considerations for food production and consumption.
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.
- 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.
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
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 2023||May 12 – June 4, 2023 (not finalized)||February 1, 2023||March 1, 2023|
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.
Join in-person or over Zoom. Register and learn more about this and other events on this website.
|Wed. Dec. 7||12:30pm||Amundsen 116|
|Thurs. Dec. 15||1:30pm||Bruininks 123|
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.
|May Session 2023||TBD||TBD|
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.
May Session 2023 Cost of Participation Forthcoming
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. You must also budget for passport and passport photos, some meals, textbooks, independent travel, 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.
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.
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.
Global Seminar: Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence
May Session 2022
|Tuition and educational costs||$4,862|
|International health insurance||$50|
|Housing and/or meals||$1,018|
|Transportation (if required and included in program fee)||$1,750|
|Total Program Fee||$8,080|
|Program discount for University of Minnesota and Big Ten students, if applicable||$-500|
|Total Program Fee with discount, if applicable||$7,580|
Estimated Additional Expenses
|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|
|Travel clinic/immunizations*For required: COVID test prior to departure to Italy and COVID test for entry back to the U.S.||$150|
|Total Estimated Cost Incurred Prior to Departure||$300|
|Costs Typically Incurred After Arrival in Host Country|
|Housing and/or meals not included in program fee||$800|
|Essential daily living expenses||$200|
|Total Estimated Cost Incurred After Arrival in Host Country||$1,050|
Total Estimated Cost of Participation
|Total Estimated Cost of Participation||$8,930|
|Spending money and personal travel Not included in financial aid calculation||$500|
|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.|
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.
You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.
Our program partner requires students demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status. Accepted documentation is your CDC vaccination card with final dose (or booster) dated not more than 9 months prior to the end of the program and at least 14 days before traveling to Italy. You will receive detailed instructions before the program departs on how to submit your vaccination record.
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.
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.
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.
Consult our resources on student identities as you prepare for your abroad experience.
Ready to go abroad? Our travel resources will help you pack and learn what to expect.
For further information or questions about this program, email