STFS 330: Sustainability and Food Production in Italy

Instructor: Elisa Ascione - Ph.D.
Credits: 3
Course/Lab Fee: TBA (course reader fee announced by the Print Shop)
Prerequisite: None
Cross-Listing: Anthropology & Sociology, Courses with Service Learning Components, Environmental Studies, Food Studies

Course Description


Biodynamic ranch at Agriturismo Le Due Torri

There are more than six billion humans on the planet and, consequently, there is a growing need for ever-higher food production, that is contributing to faster use of non-renewable fossil fuels and environmental degradation. What modes of food production and consumption may be viable, sustainable responses to this problem? What are some alternative models of food production? What can we learn from Italian food cultures in terms of sustainability?
This course focuses on the radical increase in food production over the last decades and the ecological and social problems it has created, as well as on some possible solutions: the organic movement, Slow Food, and the shift towards local food. We will cast a critical eye on these movements and analyze their ability to change the trajectory of the global food production system.


Course Objectives

  • Consider the complex interplay of social and political factors in food policies
  • Analyze the whole chain of production, distribution, and consumption of food between various foods to determine their sustainability
  • Compare alternative food movements in Italy and the United States

Note: This course may be taken individually. Student do not have to be enrolled in the Food Studies Program to take this course.


Service Learning Project Description

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. Students will lead a workshop in a local high-school to raise awareness on the problem of food waste.


Course Materials
Mandatory course reader in addition to James McWilliams’ Just Food.


Field Trip

Daytrip to Spello to discover biodynamic agriculture and Chianina (a local breed of cows) farming at Agriturismo Le Due Torri. Visit to the organic winery Di Filippo.