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  • Locations: Perugia, Italy
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Fall, Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: The Umbra Institute 
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2025 10/15/2024 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA
Fall 2025 03/15/2025 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Areas of Study: Anthropology, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Communication, Communications, Creative Writing, Culinary Arts, Culture, Environmental Studies, European Studies, Food Communication, Food Technology and Management, Health Science, Hospitality Management, Italian, Italian Language & Literature, Marketing, Sciences, Service Learning, Sociology, Tourism, Urban Design, Urban Studies, Writing Click here for a definition of this term Minimum Undergraduate GPA: 2.75
Click here for a definition of this term Language of Instruction: English Click here for a definition of this term Housing Options: Apartment-Shared, Home Stay
Program Type: Study Abroad
Program Description:

Program in Food, Sustainability, and Environmental Studies 

UMBRA - Food Studies 1

Why study Food, Sustainability, and Environmental studies in Perugia? 

Perugia is a big college town in a small Italian city. It’s the capital of the Italian region of Umbria, called “the green heart of Italy” because of its long agricultural tradition and forested hills. Umbria has long been known as the “green heart of Italy,” though the region has an innovative sustainability and sustainable agriculture sector, not simply centuries-old traditions. The University of Perugia (an Umbra partner) hosts a microbrewery incubator and Umbrian farmers are using natural techniques to respond to changing climate. The city itself has been a leader in sustainability with its public transport and municipal composting initiative. The Umbra Institute’s program in Food, Sustainability, and Environmental Studies has for almost a decade integrated students into the local fabric with both classroom instruction and community-engaged learning. 

UMBRA - Food Studies 4

About the Institute 

The Umbra Institute is an American study abroad program located in the historic city center of Perugia, Italy. Umbra offers a wide array of courses and program options which allow students to work towards general education requirements, explore an area of interest, and complete major requirements. 

About the Program

UMBRA - Food Studies 3The Program in Food, Sustainability, and Environmental Studies (FSE) is a semester-long, interdisciplinary certificate program open to all students with an interest in food, environmental studies, and sustainability. It is particularly well-suited to those hoping to cultivate a career in the food or environmental industries or seeking to continue their education at the graduate level. 

Each course includes a series of co-curricular activities that are an integral part of the curriculum. They include guest lectures, site visits, field trips, culinary activities, research projects, and other hands-on experiences. These activities allow students to directly observe the concepts studied in the classroom and analyze issues surrounding food and sustainability in an Italian and global context from varied perspectives.


Participants in the program in Food, Sustainability, & Environmental Studies are enrolled in an Italian language course (available from introductory to advanced levels) and four other FSE courses. The program requires all participants take a 1-credit Experiential Learning Module (FSST 300) along with their other electives that includes workshops, field trips, and social activities. Check the FSE website for the complete list of courses. A sample list of courses includes:Umbra FSSP Cheese
  • The History and Culture of Food in Italy (3 credits)
  • Wine & Olive Oil: Marketing and Communication Strategies (3 credits)
  • The Science of Italian Food (3 credits)
  • From Literature to Social Media: Reading and Writing Italian Food (3 credits)
  • Sustainable Food Production in Italy: Local Traditions and Global Transformations (3 credits)
  • The Anthropology of Food (3 credits)
  • Water Resources: Environment, Society, and Power (3 credits)
  • Global Sustainable Business (3 credits)
  • Green Cities: Creating Sustainable Urban Spaces & Communities (3 credits)
  • Art in and for a New World: Sustainability, Consciousness, and Ethics (3 credits)

Co-Curricular Activities

Umbra FSSP 3
Students in the certificate program participate in additional activities throughout the semester to further augment their learning. These activities include a welcome and farewell dinner with the program coordinator, workshops, excursions, and guest lectures. Each course includes various co-curricular activities that contribute to the student’s personal and academic growth, with some courses even offering limited field experience. Core course activities include: 
  • Weekend capstone field trip: Parma, Modena, and Bologna; includes visits to an experimental community/sustainability space in formerly abandoned urban greenhouses, to a parmesan cheese cooperative, a high-altitude dairy farm, and a family-owned balsamic vinegar production facility. 
  • Visit to FICO Eataly World Bologna with tour and tasting lunch;
  • Several food workshops with local experts on topics such as Italian-style coffee, pizza, wine, & the Italian aperitivo;
  • Two Italian cooking classes in Umbra’s Didactic Kitchen;
  • Gardening experience in a Umbra’s urban garden;
  • Tour of central food market in Florence (Mercato Centrale) with historical cuisine workshop; 
  • Truffle hunting in the Apennine Mountains. 

Research Opportunities in Food Studies, Sustainability, and Environmental Studies 

Independent Research Course (IR 297/397/497) is a student-centered learning experience in which students engage in advanced research on their selected topic with the support of a faculty mentor. It is ideal for students who have previously studied a particular topic and would like to continue exploring it in more depth through individual research. Independent Research Courses in food studies or sustainability are assigned the FSST disciplinary code and are set at the appropriate academic level depending on the nature of the specific research project.

A minimum of one month prior to the beginning of the semester, students must submit a provisional research proposal to the Umbra Academic Director and the Coordinator of the FSSP. Once approved, an appropriate faculty member will then be identified as the advisor. During the first two weeks of the semester, a more detailed proposal, bibliography, and project design will be submitted to the faculty advisor for approval, and a project timeline will be established. Throughout the semester, students work independently and meet weekly with their advisor to discuss their progress.

Approximately two weeks before the end of the semester, students give a short, oral presentation to their advisor and submit the first draft of their study. They then submit the final draft of the research project and participate in the Special Academic Events Week to present the results to the Umbra community.

Community Engagement

Umbra is among the few institutions in Italy that focus heavily on community engagement activities. Courses are offered with service-learning components, academic internships, seminar and practicums, volunteer programs, independent research, and other activities that bring Umbra students together with the local Italian student population and the community at large. Students have the opportunity to connect with the local community through curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular community engagement initiatives. After studying at the Umbra Institute, students consistently say these are the experiences that had the greatest most meaningful impact on their time abroad.


UMBRA - Housing 1To help facilitate a smooth transition into life in Perugia, the Umbra Institute provides housing in apartments situated throughout the city center. Apartments are shared, and most house between two and six Umbra students.  To see pictures of Umbra’s apartments, click here. You will find that walking through the city is an extremely easy, pleasant, and social experience…after just a few weeks in Perugia, you are sure to bump into people you know while out and about.

As there is no meal plan for the Umbra Institute program, students are encouraged to cook for themselves – don’t worry, Umbra hosts cooking classes in its didactic kitchen. All apartments are stocked with basic kitchen utensils, and often students discover new talents and interests while in the kitchen. If cooking isn’t for you, the Università per Stranieri offers low-price cafeteria meals, and the Umbra student ID card is valid for discounts at many trattorias, pizzerias, and pubs around the city. After all, it is Italy: delicious food is never far away.
Students may also choose to live with Italian or international students or in a homestay. These options are individualized and some background with the Italian language is preferred. 


Student Life & Services

Umbra arranges an airport pick-up on arrival day each semester, during which staff personally welcomes students to Italy and Perugia. Through orientation students meet Umbra’s Resident and Academic Directors, chat with community engagement coordinators about volunteering and other opportunities, receive apartment tips from dedicated housing staff, and learn travel tricks from the student services team.

Another unique feature available to Umbra students is the Umbra App (available on iPhone and Android). The App gives students immediate access to semester event details and sign-ups, walking directions to local restaurants and businesses, and provides a list of local discount information. Students can also contact each other, faculty, or staff through the App, view course information, and more.

Health and Safety

The Umbra Institute is dedicated to ensuring that students enjoy a safe and rewarding study abroad experience. As a full-service program with more than 15 years’ experience in study abroad, Umbra is there to assist each student from the time they apply, through their arrival, and up to the day of departure. Services relative to health and safety include:
  • Orientation: an Italian State Police lieutenant gives a presentation on safety and security in Italy and throughout Europe.
  • Emergency Phone: available 24 hours a day.
  • On-site Coaching and Counseling Service
  • Housing Office: offering apartment maintenance and assistance.
  • Umbra App Safety Check-in: In case of an emergency, all students will receive a Safety Check-in notification through the App. They will then be prompted to respond with either “I’m Safe” or “Request Assistance,” so that appropriate steps can be taken to ensure their well-being.
  • Doctors and Medical Care Available 24 Hours a Day: Students may choose to contact medical personnel on their own, but most students come to Umbra staff for support and assistance in making an appointment, either during business hours or through contacting the emergency phone.
  • Travel Workshop and Travel Forms.

The Umbra Institute Highlights

  • International staff and faculty;
  • US Office providing pre-departure support;
  • Private airport pick-up in Rome and transfer to Perugia;
  • Communication: Umbra App (for Apple and Android), monthly newsletters, Wi-Fi in all student apartments, Handbooks and Guidebook;
  • Emergency phone available 24 hours a day;
  • Life-coaching and counseling service;
  • Staff trained in crisis management;
  • Multi-day orientation in Perugia including a practical city walking tour;
  • Cell phone or SIM cards rental services available;
  • Educational and cultural workshops (Travel Workshop, Career Workshop, etc.);
  • Optional Trip, a staff-guided trip offered to explore beautiful, scenic Italy;
  • Co-curricular field trips to world-renowned historic sites and famous cities;
  • Italian language courses to learn practical skills to communicate with locals;
  • Tandem language exchange; and
  • A variety of extracurricular activities (pizza-making workshop, sports with Italian university students, etc.).


The Umbra Institute is a recognized and approved study abroad program for hundreds of colleges and universities. If you’re ready to begin your journey through food studies, start this easy ONLINE APPLICATION.