The Duomo, Florence, at night

Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence

  1. Program Details

    Global Seminar May 2020: Get a true taste of Italy by studying its sustainable food systems and the ethical and environmental considerations for food production and consumption.

    Location Taormina & Florence, Italy
    Term May Session
    Housing Apartment
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA 2.5
    Student Type UofM Students, Non UofM Students
    Student Year Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
    Language No language prerequisite
  2. About Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence

    There is a saying that “Sicily is not an island, Sicily is a continent.” Over thousands of years, ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean such as the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines have left their culinary and cultural marks on Sicily.

    This is reflected in the diverse and expansive flavors of the island’s food heritage and culture. Sicily has produced some of the world’s best cheeses, meats, olive oil, grain products, and wines for hundreds of years.

    As the capital city of the region of Tuscany, Florence is on the doorsteps of a land famous for its food culture. From olive oil producers, to vineyards, to specialty cheeses, Italy has produced some of the world's most prized foods and has done so sustainably for centuries. Italian food systems have evolved over hundreds, if not thousands of years, and Italian’s have a strong food culture that prizes high quality and sustainability.

    Food systems and culture are inseparably intertwined, and this is no more apparent anywhere than in Italy. Examining the past and present Italian culture as it relates to food, as well as Italian attitudes and values, will challenge your American perspective and relationship with food.  

    Course Description

    In this Global Seminar, gain an understanding of how cultural food choices can have ethical, environmental, economic, and health consequences through the lens of the Italian food system. Through experience, reflective exercises, excursions, and course activities, gain new insights into different ways of thinking about sustainability and food systems.

    Housing & Meals

    Live in shared apartments with other program participants. A welcome meal, farewell meal, and some additional meals are included in the program fee. Prepare additional meals in the apartments or dine at local eateries.


    Excursions assist in illuminating program coursework and take place in Sicily, Florence, and surrounding areas. Excursions may include tours of local food markets, a cooking class led by a local chef, excursions to an organic farm, biodynamic farm, and industrial farm, visits to local/regional food producers, and visits to local cultural sites such as the Duomo and Uffizi Gallery.


    All program participants will be taking 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 regarding 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

    • Develop independence by challenging yourself in a new environment
    • Function as an effective team member by utilizing your personal strengths in a group setting
    • Explore a specific topic through experiential and interdisciplinary approaches
    • Identify and reflect on aspects of intercultural sensitivity and development

    Faculty & Staff

    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.

    Program Leader

    This program is led by Mike White, Professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences. Professor White has led 12 Global Seminars to Italy since 2007.

    About the Learning Abroad Center

    Learning Abroad Center programs are:

    • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
    • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
    • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
    • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
  3. Program Structure

    Program Type Instructor-Led
    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


    Through site visits, guest lectures, excursions, and readings, gain a better understanding of ecological and ethical concerns related to sustainable food production. This course introduces you to the Italian food system and how it has evolved while maintaining its unique culture of rationality, high quality, and sustainability even in this modern age of globalization and homogenization.

    You will attend a pre-departure orientation and complete pre-departure assignments.  

    During the Global Seminar, attend and participate in class activities. Complete readings and guided reflection papers throughout the course, and keep a journal reflecting on your cultural experience using a free-writing style. For the final group project, write a paper based on your research, excursions, and experiences during your three weeks in Italy, then present your work to your peers.  

    Receive credit for: CFAN 3516 Draft Syllabus

    Liberal Education Fulfillments: The Environment and Global Perspectives themes

    Fulfills: Major electives for ASNC and FSN majors

  4. Dates & Deadlines

    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 May 14 – Jun 7, 2020 February 1, 2020 March 1, 2020

    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 TBD TBD
  5. 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.

    Fees for Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence

    May 2020: Cost of Participation

    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 fee for this program ranges from $6,700–$7,300. 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.
  6. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

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

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term May Session 2020
    Program Name Global Seminar: Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence
    Track Name Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence
    Country Italy


    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.

    Non-University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Once you submit your application, Learning Abroad Center staff will create a University of Minnesota student internet account for you. You will use this account to access the Education Abroad Application System, and other University of Minnesota services. You will be charged a $50 application fee for this program.

    Our staff will contact you within 2–3 business days with your internet account information, and additional application instructions.


    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.
  7. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

    Molly Micheels or call at 612.624.3949.