Food Studies Program at Umbra
The Food Studies Program at the Umbra Institute is a curricular concentration that applies an interdisciplinary approach to the study of food – history, sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, business, politics, science, agriculture, and sustainability – to discover how the individual, the community, and society relate to food in Italy, America, and elsewhere. The program consists of three courses in food studies, an Italian language course, and an optional elective course for a total of 14-18 credits.
Each thematic course includes a series of co- and extra-curricular activities that are an integral part of the curriculum; they include guest lectures, site visits, field trips, and hands-on experience. These activities will allow students to directly observe the concepts studied in the classroom and analyze issues surrounding Italian and global food culture from varied approaches and perspectives. While the Program could also be for the student interested casually in food, it’s particularly well suited to those hoping to enter a career in food. Students who complete all three Food Studies Program courses will receive a certificate from the Umbra Institute documenting their participation, and many of our alumni have jobs that relate to food. We also have a new collaboration with the Master of Arts in Food Studies at the University of the Pacific (see below).
Food Studies Program Courses
The core course of the Food Studies Program, this class presents a history of food culture in Italy from Roman times through the Renaissance to the present. Students learn that far from being stable, Italian culinary “traditions” have been in a state of constant flux, the result of an ever-changing combination of political, economic, and social variables. Students participate in eight practica with local experts to learn about Italian foods. These graded workshops incorporate a knowledge of production, quality evaluation, and biochemical information.
Activities, Seminars, and Workshops
• Olive Oil • Wine • Aperitivo
• Coffee • Beer • Gelato
• Cheese • Pizza
• Two traditional Umbrian meals at local restaurants to experience the regional food heritage
• Overnight Trip to Emilia-Romagna to visit parmigiano (parmesan cheese), prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar producers
• Truffle hunting day trip to the Apennines
STFS 330: Sustainability and Food Production in Italy
This course focuses on the radical increase in food production over the last 50 years and the ecological and social problems it has created, as well as on some possible solutions: the organic movement, Slow Food, innovative food technologies, and the shift towards local food. This course will explore the range of Italian food production, from foraging to the hyper-modern and even futuristic. These direct experiences will reinforce classroom assignments and provide valuable data for student presentations.
• Daytrip to Chianti to explore the landscape, its history, and to enjoy a sustainable meal prepared by the world famous Tuscan butcher, Dario Cecchini
Service Learning Project
Students dedicate a portion of class time to developing the RepEAT Take Home Box Project in an effort to reduce avoidable food waste and inform others about its environmental and social impact. The project began in Fall 2013 with student-led research of patron and restaurant opinions of the takeaway concept, as well as Italians’ eating habits. Based on the initial analysis, students designed a logo and slogan produced by the city waste management company, and created informational materials which were distributed to three local restaurants. Spring 2014 students will evaluate the effectiveness of the project, modify the materials, and expand the project to other restaurants in Perugia. The project is generously being sponsored by the City of Perugia. See a video about the project here.
This course explores the business and marketing of wine, with special focus on U.S. markets, where Italian wine counts for 30% of all wine imports. In addition, new wine markets have recently emerged worldwide. This growing interest has strengthened the role of traditional key players of the wine trade such as importers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, while helping to create new professional figures such as wine writers, wine club managers, and event promoters. In this course, students learn skills that help equip them to take on such roles. The course includes business simulations, and students will produce a start-up or marketing project.
• Day trip to Umbrian winery for a tour and wine tasting with the owners
Service Learning Project
Students apply classroom knowledge of Italian and American wine industries to a service learning project with Roccafiore Winery, an eco-friendly Umbrian wine producer with international exportation. After a company visit, students work on specific projects designed around the needs and goals of the winery, informed by market analysis, research on exportation and competitors, and potential for company expansion. The final course project is to prepare a product proposal for Roccafiore with assistance from the professor, an enologist and wine marketer.
ITLN 101-310 – Italian Language
All students who attend the Umbra Institute must take an Italian language course or a course taught in Italian as part of their semester curriculum. All levels of study are available from beginner to advanced from 4- to 6-credits.
ELECTIVE COURSE – Optional
Students who take the three Food Studies courses and Italian language may also take an additional course if desired. They may choose from any of the Umbra Institute’s offerings in areas such as history, literature, studio art, art history, creative writing, international marketing, politics, and psychology.
Summer Winery Internship
As an Umbra summer intern at the eco-friendly Roccafiore Winery, you will assist in marketing, hospitality, wine exportation, and the management of their operations. This one-month, non-credit bearing experience will help you gain invaluable insight into many aspects of the wine industry, including wine making and wine tasting culture, the global wine trade, and the techniques wineries use to reach their diverse international customers. The Roccafiore environment also offers the opportunity to observe how Umbrian culture, wine tradition, and organic approach merge to form a unique and successful business venture.
Interesting for majors in: Business, Sustainability, Marketing, Food Studies, Environmental Studies
Positions Available: 1-2
Location: Todi (28 miles from Perugia)
Internship Dates: Monday, May 4, 2015 – Friday, May 29, 2015 or Monday, June 1, 2015- Friday, June 26, 2015
Internship Cost: $1,495 – This fee covers the intern housing and utility bills in Perugia, transportation to and from the cantina, insurance, administrative fees, and the Umbra internship tutor.
Total Internship Hours: 120 hours
Application Deadline: March 2, 2015
Study Visa Requirement: None. It is not necessary to apply for another study visa as students will have 90 days as a tourist after the student visa expires.
Housing: The intern will be housed with international or Italian students in a shared apartment in the Perugia city center.
Requirement: To be eligible for this internship, you must have taken BSFS 380: The Business of Wine: Italy and Beyond during the fall or spring semester. Preference will be given to applicants who complete the Food Studies Program. Intermediate or higher proficiency in Italian is also preferred but not required.
The Umbra Institute is committed to the highest standards of academic excellence. Umbra instructors are experts in their field and have a history of excellence in teaching. The Food Studies Program instructors deliver engaging, challenging, and worthwhile material to students, employing onsite and experiential learning as part of the curriculum. The Food Studies Program instructors are:
Simon Young, Ph.D. – History and Culture of Food in Italy
Elisa Ascione, Ph.D. - Sustainability and Food Production in Italy, Coordinator for the Food Studies Program
Dario Parenti, Laurea - The Business of Wine: Italy and Beyond
Zachary Nowak, M.A. – Assoc. Director for the Food Studies Program
The Food Studies Program (FSP) consists of three courses – HSIT 350: History and Culture of Food in Italy, STFS 330: Sustainability and Food Production in Italy, and BSFS 380: The Business of Wine: Italy and Beyond. All Food Studies Program students will enroll in the appropriate level of Italian language, and may also choose to enroll in a fifth elective course which may include an additional lab fee.
|Standard Spring 2015 Program Fees||$15,575.00|
|Total FSP Lab Fee, Field Trips, Workshops, Course Readers, and Textbooks||$1,250.00|
|Total FSP Costs per Semester||$16,825.00|
|Summer Internship Fee – 120 hours||$1,495.00|
*Each semester, the Food Studies Program includes:
8 Food activities, seminars, and workshops
1 Overnight trip in Emilia Romagna
1 Day trip to Tuscan butcher
1 Day trip truffle hunting in the Apennine Mountains
1 Day trip to Umbrian winery
Fees do not include: Transatlantic airfare or meals not included in the courses
Please note that all student apartments have well-equipped kitchens for cooking at home.
In future semesters, a single all-inclusive Food Studies Program Fee will replace the individual lab fee costs.
The Food Studies Program is currently developing partnerships with organizations in Italy and the US. These will provide for preferential consideration for both internships and graduate programs in food studies.
Already active is the partnership with the Masters of Arts in Food Studies at the University of the Pacific”s San Francisco campus. Students who complete the Umbra Institute FSP will be given special consideration for this program by the director, Professor Ken Albala, and the admissions committee.
If you have any questions about the Food Studies Program at Umbra, please contact us using the form below. We will be happy to assist you with any information or documentation you may need.