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Programs : Brochure

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Fact Sheet:
Education Abroad Adviser:
Jamie Weaver
Minimum GPA:
Class Standing:
2 - Sophomore
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
0 semesters
Internship Available:
Fields of Study:
Agricultural Sciences, Architecture, Art History, Classics, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Communications, Economics, Education, Food Science, History, Italian, Literature, Media Studies, Political Science, Sociology, Sustainability, Visual Arts
Program Description:
Little boy in a gelato store

Program Overview     

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Studies program at the Institute at Palazzo Rucellai invites you to spend three months studying food, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in the beautiful region of Tuscany. Palazzo Rucellai is located on the splendid Via della Vigna Nuova, in the heart of Florence. Designed in the fifteenth century by Leon Battista Alberti, the famous façade has influenced generations of architects the world over.

Open air market in Italy

The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Studies program at Palazzo Rucellai is distinctive both for its interdisciplinary and comparative approach to food, nutrition and sustainability, and its combination of in-class teaching, field work and study tours. Students on this program will have the opportunity to experience a particularly rich food culture with innovative approaches to issues of environmental and economic sustainability, quality oriented food production and nutrition, as well as food promotion and hospitality industry. Strong focus will be placed on the issues of organic farming, sustainable agriculture, and the defense of bio-diversity. You will also learn about the characteristics of food production which are either uniquely characteristic of, or particularly prevalent in, Italy.

This program is designed for undergraduate students of agricultural sciences, economics and business administration, environmental studies, nutrition science, and students generally interested in food and sustainability studies. It further aims to provide students with a unique opportunity to develop global citizenship through awareness and understanding of cultural diversity abroad. 

You will follow an interdisciplinary set of class lectures on Italian Food History, Environmental Economics, Sustainable Agriculture and the Mediterranean Diet. Courses will make full use of the culture of the city and the region. Students on this program will enroll in the following set of course at Palazzo Rucellai, taught by professors from the University of Connecticut and international faculty from Palazzo Rucellai.

HIST 3933 – Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems: A Historical Perspective –  3 credits (ERM 499)

Instructor: P. Fischer, PhD – ISI Florence faculty

ARE 4993 – The Business of Sustainable Food Supply Chains in Italy – 3 credits (AG BM 499)

Instructor: C. Woollard, MBA – ISI Florence faculty

AGNR 3093 – Sustainability of Food and Environmental Systems in the US and Italy: A Comparative Perspective – 3 credits (ERM 499)

Instructors: P. Miniutti, Phd; G. Risatti, PhD; C. Faustman, PhD – UConn faculty

INTD 1933 – Italian Language: The Florence Experience – 4 credits 

Instructor: D. Marini, MA – ISI Florence faculty

ANTH 1093 – Cultural Literacy Workshop – 1 credit 

Instructor: C. Tarchi, PhD – ISI Florence faculty

Although no prior study of the language is required, you will enroll in the appropriate level of the "Florence Experience" course [I (IT 099), II (IT 002), III (IT 003), IV (IT 299), V (IT 399)], in which you will learn Italian in the classroom and through direct contact with many aspects of Italian culture.

As part of the program, you will participate in a series of study tours and field experiences, taking you out of the classroom and into direct contact with the people and places where food is made. You will have the opportunity to learn directly from Italian farmers and producers, processors, sales and marketing professionals and chefs. This innovative educational format is a key element in the learning experience provided by the program.Study tours and field experiences range from one to five days, and fall into two categories: 

Food Product Study Tours and Field Experiences focus on key Tuscan food items such as olive oil, wine, cheese or meat and give students, in smaller groups, the unique opportunity to get first-hand experiences from the farm to the fork.  For example, you will participate in the grape and olive harvests and become familiar with the opportunities and challenges of producing world-renowned wines and olive oils.

Food Culture Study Tours and Workshops focus on the social, economic and cultural factors that have shaped food consumption practices and patterns in Tuscany and in Italy. The study tours and workshops will take full advantage of the rich Mediterranean cuisine and examine firsthand the profound role food plays in community, family, ethnicity, nutrition, health, and national identity.This will include visits to local markets and other on-site visits to provide a differentiated view of the cultural heritage of the Tuscan region as well as cooking lessons with local chefs to learn about the Mediterranean Diet.

Following each trip or activity, students will keep a daily log and analyse their experiences. IFSP tutors are responsible for the planning of study trips, accompanying students and coordinating both learning and logistics. Following each trip, you are responsible for a final written report.


Program Quicklinks     

Course Offerings
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Program Costs
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How to Apply
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Education Abroad Credits

You will receive credit for all academic courses taken at this institution, and all of your grades from abroad will count toward your Penn State cumulative GPA. You may not take any courses overseas on a Pass/Fail basis. Students may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad. These courses will not be credited at Penn State.

All students take 14 credits.
To see what kind of credit students in past semesters have received for courses taken on this program, visit the Florence ISI Course Equivalency List. Keep in mind you will need to complete the course equivalency process once you have been accepted to your program and after you have completed your registration abroad. To obtain specific instructions on this process visit our Course Equivalencies page. To learn how the courses on this program can work into your individual degree audit, meet with your academic adviser.


Some Penn State departments or colleges (e.g., the Smeal College of Business) may require students to complete certain courses prior to studying abroad; please check with your department or college to see if you have any specific departmental requirements.

Housing and Meals

You will live in an apartment (arranged by the host institution) with other program participants. Apartments are scattered around the city (thus avoiding a concentration of American students in one particular area) and are within walking distance of the Institute and furnished with kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and communal living space. You will be responsible for providing your own meals.

Program Costs

For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the Fall budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.

Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Penn State students studying through Education Abroad can use most components of their existing financial aid packages toward the cost of study abroad. This may include federal and state grants, VA educational benefits, federal student loans, and University scholarships and grants. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.

For More Information

For more information about programs and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with or contact our Peer Advisers. These study abroad returnees can explain program options, give an overview of the education abroad process, as well as provide information about his/her program. If you are not at University Park, contact your Campus Global Representative

To learn more about the specifics of each program, schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.

For the inside scoop on life in a foreign country, be sure to check out the Student Spotlights of Penn State students currently studying abroad.

How to Apply

If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page. 

You must complete the following materials in your application:

  •  Education Abroad Questionnaire
  •  Letter of Recommendation
  •  Signature Documents
Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.

Studying Abroad with a Disability

Many students with disabilities successfully study abroad each year. Please note that other cultures may have different attitudes and available accommodations regarding disabilities. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged in consultation with our office, the Student Disability Resources office, and our partners abroad. To prepare for success, students are strongly encouraged to research the country and program location to consider if and how they will manage their disabilities abroad in advance of selecting a program. Students with disabilities and other diverse backgrounds can begin their research on our Diversity Awareness Abroad page.

Other Useful Links

Steps to Study Abroad
Schedule an Appointment
Cost & Funding
Health & Safety
Parents & Family

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2018 03/01/2018
03/14/2018 08/21/2018 12/08/2018
Fall 2019 03/01/2019 03/13/2019 TBA TBA

Indicates that deadline has passed