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Unpack the Slow Food movement’s motto of “good, clean, and fair” in its Italian birthplace. Explore how the business of food affects the health and wealth of farmers, workers, families, and communities.
In much of the world, industrial food systems provide plentiful and relatively cheap food, a convenience that comes with steep environmental and social costs. HECUA’s exploration of culinary culture and food production in Italy offers an alternative, taking students behind the scenes in the Chianti region, an area known for its innovative organic farming and organic wine production. Students see how Italian and European agricultural policy, business practices, and financial structures affect workers and their communities. Students live and study in Greve in Chianti, a town located 31 kilometers south of Florence, in Tuscany. Students observe how Tuscans define sustainability and are working toward it. Students gain direct experience with food systems, rural Italian culture, and policy through an internship at a nearby farm, school, or other local organization. Students live together in shared apartment-style housing and receive a food stipend to prepare their own meals. In addition to the immersive coursework and concurrent internship, students complete a guided individual study project. Italian language instruction each week can accommodate all levels of proficiency. Students also have the option to participate in the “Cucina for English” program, a language and cooking exchange opportunity with local Italian families. Read more about the Italy program here!
Highlights/ Good to Know
Housing: Students live in shared apartment-style homes. The accommodations are operated by Italian families in Greve. Orientation to food shopping in Greve in Chianti and cooking instruction helps students manage the stipends they receive. Students will have access to kitchen space for preparing meals.
Italian Language: Italian language fluency is not necessary. All students are enrolled in an Italian language course upon arrival, and all levels of proficiency can be accommodated.
Partner Institution: The program is offered in partnership with Università per Stranieri di Siena, which sponsors students’ visa applications, hosts the program for a field experience, staffs the Italian language instruction, and collaborates on curriculum.
Field Study: The program is based in the olive and grape-growing region of Tuscany. Students live and study on a working farm with active cultivation and processing of olives and grapes, and land in farro (spelt, an ancient wheat). There are also chickens and bees on the farm. Field trips will include visits to other farms, agricultural coops, food processing plants, and grassroots organizations. Historically, settlement and farming have been quite different in northern and southern Italy; the program will include comparative study with at least one other location in Italy.
- Agriculture and Sustainability in Tuscany (4 credits)
- Economics of Sustainable Food Production in Contemporary Europe (4 credits)
- Sustainable Italy Internship (4 credits)
- Independent Study Project (4 credits)
Total: 4 course credits / 16 credit hours
The courses are taken as an integrated whole and provide the equivalent of a semester's worth of credit, i.e. 4 course credits, 16 semester credits or 27 trimester credits. This program is full-time, five days a week, with classes scheduled for two days a week, and two or three days a week in an internship.
Environmental Studies/ Science
Public Admin, Public Policy, Govt
Program Fees:Please contact HECUA for current pricing, or check the website, here. Program fees include group transportation to field sites, planned
group excursions, lodging, meals, local transportation, medical insurance, and administrative costs.
None. No course or language prerequisites. Instruction is in English. At the beginning of the program, students will receive intensive instruction in basic Italian language (or at other levels for those with previous study).
This Program is open toUndergraduate students enrolled in a U.S. college or university who have completed their first year.
Typical Living ArrangementsShared apartments.
Scholarships are AvailableHECUA provides Scholarships for Community Engagement, Scholarships for Social Justice (for first generation students and/or students from low-income backgrounds) and Scholarships for Racial Justice (for students of color) for semester-length programs each fall and spring. More information about the application process for scholarships is available on the HECUA website, here, or by contacting the organization.
Application Process Involves
- Online Application
- Letters of Reference
More information at the HECUA Italy webpage >>>
HECUA. Gustavus belongs to the HECUA Consortium, so we are a part of the organization that offers this program. Any eligible Gustavus student is welcome to participate in this program.
Application process. Gustavus students will first apply for Gustavus approval through this website. Once approved by Gustavus to participate, you will then complete an online HECUA application as well. Note that Gustavus has a nonrefundable application fee of $70 (required for all Gustavus study away applicants), and that HECUA has a separate nonrefundable application fee of $50.
Advising at Gustavus. If you would like to speak with a Gustavus program advisor, please see our Advising page for more information.