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ENV / SOC / FSST 330: Sustainable Food Production in Italy: Local Traditions and Global Transformations

Important Notes:

  • This course is a “core course” of the Food & Sustainability Studies curriculum. It may be taken individually. You do not have to be enrolled in the Food Studies Program to take this course. However, priority will be given to students participating directly in the Food & Sustainability Studies Program during initial enrollments.

Course Description

There are more than six billion humans on the planet, each of whom needs to eat every day: ever-higher food production 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? How are people responding to increasing inequalities relating to food availability? 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 70 years 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. A critical eye on these movements and analysis of their ability to change the trajectory of the global food production system, which is rapidly heading for collapse, will be casted. In addition to classroom lectures and discussions, a field trip to the world-famous Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini will be taken.

Course Objectives
By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • consider the complex interplay of social and political factors in shaping food systems;
  • analyze aspects of production, distribution, and consumption of food to determine their sustainability;
  • compare the geneses of the alternative food movements in Italy;
  • integrate theory and practice as it applies to modern-day Italian foodways;
  • define sustainability on a local, national, and global scale using a multidisciplinary and multifunctional approach.

IMG_2727Service Learning Project Description
You will continue building the 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.

Course Materials
Mandatory course reader