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UConn Sustainable Food and Environmental Systems, Florence, Italy (Faculty-led)

The Program

The Sustainable Food and Environmental Systems Program at the International Studies Institute at Palazzo Rucellai in Florence invites students to spend the Fall Semester studying sustainable food and environmental systems in Italy in its three key dimensions: the environment, economy and society.

By many estimates, the global population is going to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Looking ahead, few issues will be more important to the world than to develop a sustainable response to the rapidly growing demand for food. This program offers unique opportunities to address the ‘big questions’ of food systems and sustainability via learning in- and outside the classroom.

Students engage in a wide range of hands-on experiences through study tours and internships exploring crucial elements of Florentine/Italian food systems. Florence is a world renowned food capital. Its vibrant traditional food markets, street food vendors, restaurants and grocery stores offer uncommon opportunities for engaging with local community and to explore the global-local linkages of food from production to consumption.

The SEFSP is tailored for undergraduate students of agricultural sciences, environmental studies, nutritional sciences, economics, business administration, sociology and history, as well as for those generally interested in food and sustainability studies.

The Academics

Students participate in multimedia classroom lessons (in English), thematic workshops, project-based group work, and a variety of hands-on activities integrating theoretical frameworks with experiential modes of learning. The SFESP curriculum combines social and natural sciences with humanities guiding students to analyze historical and contemporary food systems in Italy through diverse disciplinary and methodological frameworks. There are no pre-requisites.

For Fall 2017, the SFESP offers the following classes taught by a multi-disciplinary team of faculty:

Course Overview

– HIST 3993 – Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems: A Historical Perspective – 45 contact hours (3cr)

– ARE 4993 – The Business of Sustainable Food Supply Chains in Italy – 45 contact hours (3cr)

– AGNR 3093 – Sustainability of Food and Environmental Systems in the US and Italy: A Comparative Perspective – 45 contact hours (3cr)

INTD 1933 – Italian Language and Culture: The Florence Experience – 60 contact hours (4cr)

CEP 201 – Internships: The Florence Food System – 84 contact hours (2cr); Note: On an optional basis, the internship can be extended to 124 contact hours (3 cr)

Study Tours and Internships

The SFESP’s rich and appealing schedule of Study Tours and Internships sets it apart from other food programs. Study Tours and Internship Experiences range from one to five days. Study Tours give students the opportunity to visit Italian farmers and producers, processors, sales and marketing professionals as well as working chefs, to learn about the challenges of sustainable food and environmental systems. The strong Internship component of the program allows students to fully immerse themselves in the complex realities of local food markets, soup kitchens and Florentine restaurants, examining first-hand the profound role food plays in community, family, nutrition, health, and national identity and acquiring precious professional experiences and intercultural competences. In this way, Florence, Tuscany, and greater Italy become a living laboratory every day.


The SFESP collaborates successfully with a variety of Tuscan farms, food and environmental groups, food processing and retail companies as well as restaurants and chefs. ISI Florence maintains partnerships with high governmental and non-governmental organizations, such as the Tuscan Regional Government, the prestigious Georgofili Academy, and Navdanya International. The Program also collaborates with prestigious Italian universities including the ‘Università degli Studi di Firenze’, the ‘Università di Bologna’ and the ‘Università degli Studi di Pisa’.

The Experience

Students will find ISI Florence (Palazzo Rucellai & Palazzo Bargagli) a warm and welcoming place, with an expert and accessible staff that always has time to answer a question or to help with a problem. There are two computer labs, a library, and two student lounges. Students are housed in double or triple rooms in furnished apartments shared with other program participants. The apartments have equipped kitchens and a washing machine, and are located in the center of town within walking distance from both Palazzo Rucellai and Palazzo Bargagli. Along the way, one might stop at a coffee bar for a cappuccino and a pastry, gaze into the shop windows at the artistically displayed goods, or marvel at majorartistic, historical landmarks. The little pleasures of Italian life, the espresso break, the “gelato”, buying fresh vegetables in mom and pop shops, and the Italian approach to time, become a natural part of the day. Weekly cultural activities in Florence include a gelato walk, organized soccer games, the Ferragamo shoe museum, the artisans’ workshops, and the secret rooms Palazzo Vecchio. Optional day trips and to Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimignano offer new perspectives on other parts of Italy. A day trip to Chianti is the closing event of Orientation.


Please note that this program charges program fees and not tuition. This affects the types of financial aid that can be applied to defray the cost. Click the link below for this program’s budget sheet and contact the UConn Office of Financial Aid Services for information regarding your individual financial aid package.

You may apply the following types of financial aid to the cost of this program: CT Aid for Public College Students Grant, Federal Title IV Funds including Pell Grant, SEOG, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Parent Loans, and private scholarships.

You may not apply the following types of financial aid to the cost of this program: Federal Work Study, Tuition Remission Grant, University Grant, Tuition Waiver, and academic scholarships (such as Day of Pride, Nutmeg, Presidential, Leadership and Academic Excellence Scholarship).

Budget Sheets: Fall
The Details

Dates / Deadlines:

Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2018 03/08/2018 03/15/2018 TBD TBD

Fact Sheet:

Class status: 2nd Year, 3rd Year, 4th+ Year Academic area: Agriculture, Environmental Studies, Food Studies
Language of instruction: English Prior language study required: None
Open to non-UConn students: Yes Required GPA: 2.75