Food, Culture, and Sustainability in Siena

Language Requirement: None
Academic Standing by Program Start: Third-Term Freshman & Above
Location: Europe, Italy
GPA: 2.5
Program Overview

Experience Italian food and culture in the contexts of beautiful Siena and Tuscany. Italian cuisine has influenced food culture around the world and is viewed as a form of art by many. Participating in this program will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of complex food-related issues and develop new insights into the ways in which food mediates social, political, cultural, environmental, and economic processes.

The Food Studies programs will also include opportunities for classroom, field-based, and service learning. You will learn firsthand from everyday people: farmers, family cooks and professional chefs, and creative entrepreneurs who are building internationally recognized sustainable food businesses that preserve and celebrate regional heritage.

There are three program options throughout the academic year, with slightly different course availability (see Academic Details below). All courses are taught in English, and there is no language requirement. All majors are welcome to participate. Courses may be appropriate for students in food studies, environmental studies, sociology, international studies, humanities, business, and anthropology.  

Dates and Deadlines
Term Year Deadline Arrival Date Departure Date
Winter Quarter 2024 11/15/2023 1/8/2024 3/23/2024
Spring Quarter 2024 1/15/2024 3/28/2024 6/8/2024
Fall Quarter 2024 4/15/2024 9/19/2024 12/7/2024

Discount for Pell Recipients

To expand access to study abroad, GEO is offering a $400 discount for this program (Summer 2024 and beyond) to UO students who currently have the Pell Grant as part of their federal financial aid (FAFSA).

Academic Details

This program will explore questions around the social justice of food equity in relationship to food production, as well as topics relating to food science, including climate change, biodiversity, and food production technology.  A special focus of this program will allow you to explore the impact that humans have on the food system and vice versa from a social justice perspective and by comparing the European and American systems. Classes vary based on the term. Each term has 4 required courses, for 15-16 UO quarter credits. You may take an additional course for up to 20 credits.

Course fall winter spring
Cross-Cultural Communication (2 UO quarter credits) X X X
Food, Law, and Social Justice (5 UO quarter credits) X X X
Food, Science, and Sustainability (5 UO quarter credits) X    
Food and Culture in Italy (4 UO quarter credits)     X
Wine in Italy and the Western World (4 UO quarter credits) (Available as elective) X (Available as elective)
Other Elective (see Italian Language and Culture for offerings) X X (Art History) X


For UO Environmental Studies and Food Studies students, courses fulfil the following requirements: 

course title equivalency requirement it covers
Food, Law, and Social Justice ENVS: Food, Law, and Social Justice, 400-level, 5 credits

ENVS: Area 4 (Environmental Issues Course)

FS: Elective and Capstone Seminar course

Food, Science, and Sustainability ENVS: Food, Science, and Sustainability, 300-level, 5 credits

ENVS: Area 3B (Sustainable Design and Practice elective)

FS: Elective and Capstone Seminar course

Food and Culture in Italy ANTH: Food and Culture in Italy, 300-level, 4 credits FS: Elective and Capstone Seminar course
Wine in Italy and the Western World HST: Wine in Italy & The Western World, 300-level, 4 credits FS: Elective and Capstone Seminar course

All courses offered in Siena are recognized and approved for academic credit by various GEO partner institutions. Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information. Courses are taught by Italian faculty who have experience teaching US students, including supplementary language tutoring offered by the site director. You will attend classes with other US students, and as part of the Cross-Cultural Communications course, you will meet with Italian students from the Università di Siena at the Language Lab or in classes at the university. Courses make use of a variety of materials and texts, all of which are provided as part of the program fee.

Optional Service-Learning Placement 

Students are welcome to participate in a service-learning placement as part of the Cross-Cultural Perspectives course. If you opt for the service-learning placement, you will be required to make both a personal and a professional commitment. As part of the Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Service-Learning course, you will design a project in partnership with your organization host, conducting a needs and skills assessment. Over the course of the term, you will continue to develop your project while reflecting on your involvement and the cross-cultural context in which you are participating. At the conclusion of the program, you will present a portfolio of reflection papers, resumé, and project analysis. A service-learning placement requires flexibility and commitment to the internship schedule and entailed responsibilities. Because of the time commitment required, you may sometimes have to forgo a program activity or excursion in order to fulfill your responsibilities to the organization. 

An optional service-learning placement is an exciting opportunity for students studying in Siena, Italy, during the fall or spring to immerse themselves in the local Sienese culture. Placements vary by term. In the past students have volunteered at local retirement homes, ceramic arts programs for community members with disabilities, pre-school and elementary schools, and rescue and social services. 

Course Equivalencies

UO students: please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.

Non-UO students: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

Application process

This program is less than 90 days. Students with a US passport will be traveling to Italy under the Schengen Visa waiver program and do not require a travel visa for this program, and GEO is unable to assist U.S. citizens in obtaining a visa. If you are not a U.S. Citizen: Notify your GEO Advisor. Students who are not U.S. citizens should contact the Italian consulate in their country of residence about visa requirements, no matter the duration of the program of study.

This program has a rolling admission application processGEO staff (and the program faculty leader, if applicable) will complete a review of the application materials of complete applications in the order that they are submitted (“first come, first serve”). Decisions about acceptance will be made shortly after you submit a complete application. There are some programs that fill fast, some even before the deadline. Students are encouraged to complete applications and commit to programs early.

Acceptance is based on a holistic review of your application.  This includes a review of your GPA, transcripts (including courses taken and in-progress), any additional requirements or prerequisites (see section "Additional Requirements"), and the short statement.

Faculty and Staff
For fall 2024, Dr. Hannah Cutting-Jones will be teaching her course Long-Lived: An Exploration of Health, Food, & Culture. 
Housing Description

Experience life as part of an authentic Italian neighborhood, living within the medieval city walls of Siena. Residences are spread out within the city center. All are within easy walking distance (~15 min) of the GEO Center, and you will have small local grocers, restaurants, and cafés nearby. 

You have two housing options, each with its own perks. You will be able to provide your preference, though we cannot guarantee that we can accommodate everyone in their first choice. 

Apartments: Apartments are fully furnished with beds, desks and a kitchen table and chairs. No two apartments are the same. Generally, there are 2-3 rooms per apartment, and you can expect to share a bedroom with one or two other GEO students. The kitchens are equipped with utensils, plates, glasses, cookware, an electronic oven and a gas stove. You will also receive two sets of linens and each apartment has access to a washing machine and drying rack (dryers are very uncommon in Italy). 

Student Residence: You can live in a residence with other international and Italian students, fully immersing yourself into the community. The student residence has single and double rooms, some with ensuite bathrooms and some with shared bathrooms (no more than 3 people/bathroom). Each room has a TV, fridge/freezer, safe, desks, nightstand, and sink. Kitchen and living areas are share with your floor (~8 people/kitchen, students often enjoy cooking together or share meals with each other). Linens and towels are provided, and your rooms are cleaned weekly.