The Duomo, Florence, at night

Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence

  1. Program Details

    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, Hotel
    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, Graduate Students
    Language No language prerequisite
  2. About Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence

    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. 

    Course Description

    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.

    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. 


    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
    • Tour of the Uffizi Gallery 
    • Bike tour of Tuscany 


    All program participants are required to and responsible for booking their own round-trip flight through Village Travel, a local travel agency that the Learning Abroad Center works with. The flight is listed as a cost that you will incur prior to departure and the Learning Abroad Center will notify confirmed participants of flight options to book through the travel agency. 

    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

    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, 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.

    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


    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

  4. Dates & Deadlines

    Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
    Term Program Dates Application Deadline
    May Session 2021 May 14, 2021  –  Jun 6, 2021 Mar 1, 2021

    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 16 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 2021 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 2021 Cost of Participation 

    Program fees can vary widely due to location, cost of living, airfare, and program inclusions. The program fee generally includes tuition, 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 the international flight, passport and passport photos, additional meals, textbooks, independent travel, and miscellaneous living expenses.

    The Learning Abroad Center has worked with Village Travel to identify a coordinated flight that program participants will travel on together. You can view your coordinated flight itinerary here. You will be responsible for booking this flight for the program through Village Travel mid-March. The program contact will let you know when you should book the flight. The Cost of Participation lists the estimated flight cost in the Estimated Additional Expenses box. Please note that the flight cost is subject to change.

    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 2021
    Program Name Global Seminar: Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence
    Track Name Sustainable Food Systems of Sicily & Florence
    Country Italy


    May & Summer Programs – University of Minnesota Students

    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.

    Apply Now

    May & Summer Programs – Non-University of Minnesota Students

    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.

    Apply Now

    Fall 2021 & Beyond Programs – All students

    All students, both UofM and Non-UofM should use this apply button if applying for a program Fall 2021 or beyond (academic year, winter break etc.). 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 two additional application items—the Low GPA Essay and Special Circumstances Recommendation. Both items will be added to your checklist after you start your application, and you will be notified when they have 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.
  7. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, email

    Amy Garwood-Diaz or call at 612.624.1537.