The Food and Sustainability Studies Program
The Food and Sustainability Studies Program (FSSP) at the Umbra Institute is a curricular concentration that applies an interdisciplinary approach to the study of food and sustainability – 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 is composed of three courses in food studies including two core courses and a choice of one of the following courses: Business of Wine, Anthropology of Food, or Water Essentials. In addition to the three courses, the program includes 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 you to directly observe the concepts studied in the classroom and analyze issues surrounding Italian and global food culture from varied approaches and perspectives. Those of you who complete all three FSSP courses will receive a certificate from the Umbra Institute documenting your 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).
HSIT 350: History and Culture of Food in Italy – Core Course #1
One of the two required courses of the FSSP, this class presents a history of food culture in Italy from Roman times through the Renaissance to the present. You will 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. You will participate in eight practica with local experts to learn about Italian foods. These workshops incorporate a knowledge of production, quality evaluation, and biochemical information.
Activities, Seminars, and Workshops
• Olive Oil • Wine • Aperitivo
• Coffee • Beer • Gelato
• Cheese • Pizza
Day trip to Florence to visit a market, take part in a historical cooking class, and explore an ancient pharmacy to learn about medicinal characteristics of food
Overnight trip to Emilia-Romagna to visit Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese), Prosciutto di Parma, and traditional balsamic vinegar producers
Truffle hunting day trip to the Apennines
STFS 330: Sustainability and Food Production in Italy – Core Course #2
The second required course, this class 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. You will be able to discover local markets and producers in Perugia, and these direct experiences will reinforce the topics studied in class.
Day trip to Chianti, Tuscany to visit Dario Cecchini, a world-famous sustainable butcher
Service Learning Project
You will help create the new Umbra sustainability synergistic orto, a type of organic gardening that uses plants that naturally protect and nourish each other. The Umbra orto is located in Perugia at a residency for individuals with mental health challenges where horticulture therapy is used as a technique to enhance their quality of life and generate positive emotions and social interactions. You will help with seasonal tasks, including tilling the soil; planting herbs, vegetables, and flowers; and harvesting. At the end of the semester, you will present your project to the Umbra community.
ANFS 370: The Anthropology of Food – Optional Course #1
This course will address food related issues from an anthropological perspective. It will examine the role food plays in shaping group and personal identities with a particular focus on Italy and the U.S. Through ethnographic research, you will explore how local food “traditions” change over time and space, and how culinary knowledge is used by people in different ways. The course will focus on food as material and immaterial heritage through an analysis of food museums and eco-museums, as well as exploring the role of food in Italian families to understand the changing attitudes and roles of men and women towards food and cooking. You will study food as a site of cultural transmission, but also of dissent and resistance.
You will visit the Archeologia Arborea Heritage Orchard and the Garavelle Historic Folk and Traditions Center.
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, you will learn skills that help equip them to take on such roles. The course includes business simulations, and you will produce a start-up or marketing project.
You will visit an Umbrian winery to see and understand their operations, wine production techniques and business approach.
ESFS 350: Water Essentials: Sustainable Use of a Limited Resource – Optional Course #3
This course confronts water related issues through a combination of interdisciplinary discourses. It will explore the central role of water in human civilization, both past and present, and consider the future implications of our current water use trajectories. The course will take a critical look at water sustainability through various lenses including food systems, terrestrial and marine resources and other industries. The objective will be for students to leave the class being able to: understand the interdependencies and inter-linkages between water and trade, development, and the environment; identify inter-linkages between energy, food, land use, and water; examine the political use of water; and develop innovative strategies for promoting sustainable water use in one or more areas of land use, food and energy, including at the consumer level.
You will visit Lago Trasimeno to take part in local fishing activities.
Service Learning Project
In this course, you will work closely with POST Science Center (Perugia Officina della Scienza e della Tecnologia) instructors to develop and lead an interactive scientific laboratory and discussion in English for Italian high school students on the water footprint and sustainable practices to reduce water consumption at home.
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
Those of you who take the three Food and Sustainability Studies courses and Italian language may also take an additional course if desired. You 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.
The Didactic Kitchen
Umbra’s didactic kitchen is an ideal location for Umbra professors and guest lecturers to provide students with hands-on, non-credit-bearing activities that compliment their classroom studies. Click here to learn more about what can be discovered through Umbra’s co- and extra-curricular cooking and tasting activities.
Program Fee: $16,825.00
In addition to that which is provided by through Umbra’s standard
Opportunities for FSSP Alumni
For those who successfully complete the Umbra Food & Sustainability Studies in Italy Program, there are a number of post-program opportunities for students wishing to continue on to a Master’s program in food studies, intern at a winery or in the food-related industry, or go straight to seeking full-time employment. Umbra FSSP alumni enjoy the following options:
Summer Winery Internship
As an Umbra summer intern at the eco-friendly Terre Margaritelli Winery, you will assist in hospitality (wine tastings and tours); wine exportation and online sales; and management of their communications (social media, customer outreach, newsletter, and/or other publications). A large portion of the internship will also be dedicated to Cantine Aperte, an annual event from Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, May 27, 2017 where wineries all across Italy will organize tastings, tours, live music, and food for visitors. The intern will help Terre Margaritelli with preparations, promotional activities, photo-reporting, social media marketing, and assist with sales points at the cantina during the weekend festivities.
This six-week, non-credit bearing experience will help you gain insight into many aspects of the wine industry, including winemaking and wine tasting culture, the global wine trade, and the techniques wineries use to reach their diverse international customers. The Terre Margaritelli environment also offers the opportunity to observe how sustainable efforts and Italian wine-producing tradition merge to form a unique and successful business venture.
Important Note: This placement is ideal for a student who self-directs, is innovative and pro-active, and feels comfortable working autonomously.
Ideal for majors in: Business, Sustainability, Marketing, Food Studies, Environmental Studies
Positions Available: 1
Location: Miralduolo di Torgiano (8 miles from Perugia)
Internship Dates*: Monday, May 15, 2018 – Friday, June 22, 2018 (6 weeks)
*The start date may be flexible based on intern’s availability.
Internship Cost: $1,450 – This fee covers the intern’s housing and utility bills in Perugia, transportation to and from the winery, reimbursement for transportation to and from the Rome Fiumicino Airport, Umbra internship tutor who will closely follow intern’s work, emergency phone, and evening student activities. The selected intern is required to show that he/she has health care coverage for the duration of the internship.
Total Internship Hours: approximately 240 hours (8 hours per day, 5 days per week)
Application Deadline: Monday, March 19, 2018
Study Visa Requirement: None. It is not necessary to apply for another study visa as you will have 90 days as a tourist after the student visa expires.
Housing: You 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.
Graduate Program, Internships and Employment
Thinking about a food-related career or graduate study after you finish college? The FSSP had developed a number of strategic partnerships with universities and food-related organizations in the US and Italy. Umbra FFSP graduates will be given preferential admission to the following graduate programs and internships:
Masters of Arts in Food Studies at the University of the Pacific
University of the Pacific”s San Francisco campus, directed by Professor Ken Albala.
Drexel University’s M.S. in Food Science
Also for the Drexel’s online Masters in Hospitality.
Chatham University’s Master of Arts in Food Studies
The Falk School of Sustainability – Pittsburgh, PA.
FSSP graduates will also be given special consideration for internships at Eataly, the fine Italian foods retailer. Eataly has stores in both New York City and Chicago, and is looking for both interns and new employees as it will soon be opening a second Manhattan store. FSSP graduates will have direct contact with Eataly’s chief recruiter.
Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.
If you have any questions about the Food & Sustainability 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.
Seeing is believing! In addition to the overview above, we have three videos that highlight the Food Studies Program activities and field trips.
Food & Sustainability Studies Program–Pizza Workshop
Food & Sustainability Studies Program–Chianti Trip
Food & Sustainability Studies Program–Truffle Hunt
Food & Sustainability Studies Program–RepEAT Doggie Bag Project