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Florence: ISI Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in Italy
Florence, Italy
Program Terms: Fall
Homepage: Click to visit
Budget Sheets Fall
Fact Sheet:
 Minimum GPA:
 Class Standing:
2.5 - Second Semester Sophomore
 Courses Offered:
Agriculture, Italian, Sciences
 Type of Program:
Study Center
 Language of Instruction:
 Language Requirement:
0 - none
 Education Abroad Adviser:
Kathleen Fox
 Global Programs Scholarships:
Diversity Grant-in-Aid, Grant-in-Aid
Program Description:
ISI Florence Logo

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.

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. 



Italian Chef with Cheese

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:


  • The History of Food and Agriculture in Italy (3 cr)
  •  Environmental Economics: Sustainable Rural Development in Tuscany (3 cr)
  •  The Mediterranean Diet  (3 cr)
  •  The Florence Experience: Intensive Italian Language Course (4 cr)
  •  Pathways to  Intercultural Competence (1 cr)



Although no prior study of the language is required, you will enroll in the appropriate level of the "Florence Experience" course (I,II,III,IV), in which you will learn Italian in the classroom and through direct contact with many aspects of Italian culture. To see what credit you will receive for these courses, please visit the Florence AG Course Equivalency List.


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.


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.

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 of a Pass/Fail basis.


To see what kind of credit students in past semesters have received for courses taken on this program, visit the Florence 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.

Students may not fulfill GHA (General Health and Activity) general education requirements abroad.


Housing and Meals

You will live in an apartment (arranged by the host institution) with other program participants. Apartments are scattered around the city 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.




Florence Cityscape


Program Costs

For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the Budget Sheets listed above. 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. 

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

Financial Aid & Scholarships
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 see Funding Study Abroad. 

For More Information

For more information about this program and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with 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. Students at University Park can also contact their International Coordinator within their college. If you're not at University Park, students at Commonealth Campuses can contact their Campus Global Representative.

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

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



Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2014 01/20/2014 
03/15/2014 08/27/2014 12/13/2014
 NOTE: start date marks arrival in Florence; end date marks departure from Florence

Indicates that deadline has passed