CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Umbra Institute (Fall 2014) and Wellesley College (Spring 2016) Alumna, Carolyn Chelius, is currently employed at Harvard University as the school’s Food Literacy Project Manager. Carolyn works to educate students on food and food systems by managing the local farmer’s market, serving as the adviser for the community garden on campus, and, primarily, managing a fellowship of graduate and undergraduate students as they organize semester events and attend weekly meetings and field trips. Recently, Carolyn spoke with Umbra Staff to share how she feels her experience studying abroad in Perugia, Italy helped her qualify for her current career.
When Carolyn was asked how she prepared for her position at Harvard, she shared the following advice: “learn as much as you can and get advice from as many people as possible.” She went on to express that her time at Umbra helped her get in touch with influential educators, who have served as mentors throughout the last few years, and that she plans to use her experiences in Italy to add a more personal touch to her work at Harvard. “They [mentors] helped me think of different ways to educate others about food, how to add attractive educational components, such as food tastings, that help engage people and spark their interest,” said Carolyn as she hinted toward specific ideas to further develop the broader theme of food and sustainability related education.
Beyond making the most of her university education, Carolyn has taken it upon herself to continue learning and developing her understanding of the culture and work found within the field of Food Studies. Carolyn recognizes that Food Studies is a multifaceted, interdisciplinary field that is not only relative to environmental and nutrition studies, but also expands to topics such as food politics and activism. She shared the importance of informational interviews, and of researching various perspectives and food related opportunities to increase her knowledge of the field.
At the end of her interview with Umbra Staff, Carolyn was asked about what inspired her to move into her current field. She shared that she had always been passionate about food and had begun reading about nutrition at an early age. Carolyn was then pushed out of her comfort zone and toward engaging other food scholars through her participation in Umbra’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program. “Before Umbra, I had never been surrounded by so many people who were equally as excited about food as I was, who cared about it from so many different dimensions,” elaborated Carolyn. “It was exciting for me to realize that I knew classmates, teachers, and professionals who were passionate about food, which made me feel more comfortable within a similar environment.”
Carolyn received a dual degree in Economics and Environmental Studies from Wellesley and participated in courses related to the History and Culture of Food, Sustainability, and the Business of Wine through Umbra’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program. Beyond her curricular achievements, Carolyn assisted in the coordination of student groups and events through participation in Wellesley’s chapter of Slow Food and various internships.
About Umbra’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program:
The Food & Sustainability Studies Program is an interdisciplinary curricular concentration at the Umbra Institute, an American study abroad program located in the central Italian city of Perugia. Often called a “big university town in a small Italian city,” Perugia is the ideal setting to study abroad in Italy, with fine arts, business, and liberal arts courses. For more information about the Umbra Institute or its Food & Sustainability Studies Program, contact the associate director of the Program, Zachary Nowak (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also watch a short video describing studying at the Umbra Institute.