Study how the dynamics of food production, distribution, and provisioning are affected by population growth, rapid urbanization, and globalization, and which responses offer the most promise for sustainable food futures at local, national, and global levels.
Consider how to meet food availability, access, and utilization demands when approximately 870 million people per year—more than 12 percent of the global population—suffer from chronic undernourishment.
Discuss food sustainability with activists, professors, and well-known innovators in Berkeley and Santa Cruz.
Learn about the smallholder agriculture and explore conventional and alternative farming practices in Malawi.
Examine government agriculture programs responding to food insecurity in a country that has recognized food sovereignty and the right to food in its constitution since 2008.
Study the EU’s complex and innovative food safety and trade regulations and talk with policy experts at multiple United Nations institutions in Italy.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- How we will feed and nourish nine billion people by 2050 and do so while sustaining the agricultural livelihoods of nearly one billion people
- How we will conserve our natural environments and the green infrastructure we rely on and empower local communities to determine their own food sustainability futures
- How we will confront questions about biodiversity and genetically modified crops, land rights and corruption, environmental degradation and conflict, and natural disasters and resilience
- How global issues like industrialization, changing agricultural conditions, technological innovation, and rapid urbanization factor into food security challenges and opportunities
- How thought leaders, including Alice Waters and Vandana Shiva, and social movements such as the slow food and local farming movements have had an impact on food policy and futures in the global north and south
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- People, Identity, and Food – syllabus
- (ANTH3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course will help you to understand how access to food, eating habits, choices, and the pleasures and processes of food consumption often reveal distinctions of age, gender, status, class, occupation, ethnicity, and religion—within and among cultures. Explore the role food plays in people’s lives, including and in addition to nutrition, and how urbanization and globalization are changing relationships between people, their environments, production and distribution chains, and therefore relationships with food itself. Identity how development, food demand, and distribution systems shape each other, and learn about how access to food, along with strategies for health and nutrition, are culturally determined.
- Getting from Field to Fork – syllabus
- (ECON3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course examines the most effective economic development strategies for increasing food security among the most vulnerable food producers and consumers, how to increase efficiencies and reduce waste in existing processing and distribution chains to ensure more equitable access, and how to develop sustainable food systems for rapidly growing urban populations. Explore how international trade and regulatory frameworks affect food production and distribution chains, analyzing how these frameworks can contribute to global food security, as well as how income inequality—at local, national and global scales—affect nutrition and health, and what strategies can be most effective in reducing disparities. This course allows you to investigate the role migration plays in food production and consumption in diverse communities, and how access to information (including digital technology) can improve efficiency of both food production and distribution systems.
- Agriculture, Ecology, and Sustainable Futures – syllabus
- (ENVI3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course analyzes how to reach food security objectives while taking into account local and global environmental imperatives and realities. Explore the prospects of currently prevailing agricultural models and what solutions they offer, as well as alternative models—including ecologically integrated methods and scales. There is emphasis on what roles science, technology, and innovation will play in creating a more food secure world, and how global climate change affects and will continue to affect local environments—creating new threats, weaknesses, and opportunities for shifting priorities. Look into possible systems and tools to empower local food producers to promote productivity and ecological health, and examine how urban agriculture and other innovations can contribute to local food security in our rapidly urbanizing world.
- Politics, Ethics, and Food Security – syllabus
- (POLI3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course explores questions related to land rights, income distribution and inequality, food distribution systems, government regulation, the role of international organizations, and policy crafting as they relate to food and food security. More specifically, learn how to define food security at local, national and global scales, and how different conceptions determine varied approaches. You will also discuss how land rights and livelihoods can be balanced with rising global pressures around food security, and how income distribution and inequality affect hunger, food production, and development. The course deeply examines how governments, NGOs, research institutes, and UN bodies, among others, can help develop global solutions to ensure food accessibility for urban and rural communities. These complex topics will help you build a rich understanding of food security issues in an increasingly globalized and urbanized world.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
United States: Berkeley and Santa Cruz, California
The program begins in Berkeley and Santa Cruz—home to a food system connected to some of the United States’ richest farmland—where you will start to frame issues around agriculture, ecology, and sustainable futures, and learn differences between industrial, local, organic, and urban agriculture. Examine policy and regulatory frameworks and look into the economics of food, distribution chains, and markets while meeting at organizations such as Food First, Phat Beets Produce, the Oakland and Berkeley Farmer’s Markets, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, Maza Pa La Raza, Boom Distillery, and other local institutions and markets. Talk about food sustainability with activists, professors, and well-known innovators including alumni involved with food issues.
Ecuador: Quito, Riobamba, and Guaranda
Ecuador is home to three distinct ecological zones: the Pacific coast, the Andes Highlands and the Amazon rainforest, and is one the most biologically diverse countries in the world. It is also a multicultural, stratified society that has experienced political upheavals affecting food security. As an Andean country, Ecuador provides an example of traditional indigenous agricultural and pastoral communities and a large population of communities that are food insecure because of weather, natural disasters, and a large number refugees.
Your time in Ecuador begins in the capital, Quito, where you will learn about the local government’s urban agriculture program, born as a response to increasing food insecurity in the poorest areas of this densely populated city. During visits to government departments, formal and informal urban gardens, and various nonprofit and microcredit associations, you will explore the intersection of development, urbanization, and policy in a country that has uniquely recognized food sovereignty and the right to food in its constitution since 2008.
You will then travel south through the Andes, passing by Machachi, Lasso, and Riobamba and seeing evidence of varied models of agricultural production that incorporate multiple systems of knowledge. You’ll consider land consolidation and tenure as you see Ecuador’s richest soils and one of Ecuador’s major agricultural hubs. Here, you will experience large-scale production of dairy and crops such as broccoli for local and global consumption. You will compare urban and rural food security levels, affected primarily by accessibility to fertile land. You will also be introduced to the farmers and diverse communities to explore how the role of food plays out in their livelihood and how poverty and food insecurity is being combated.
Malawi: Lilongwe, Ntcheu
Arriving in Lilongwe, you’ll be immersed in the ongoing and sometimes contentious discussion between the government, civil society, and farmers as they navigate the efforts to increase food availability and access. Specifically, you’ll examine mainstream efforts to increase yields through agricultural subsidies in comparison to effort to improve food sovereignty and nutritional security through alternatives such as permaculture. Travel south to the rural communities near Ntcheu to live and learn among smallholder farming families while exploring the effects of cultural traditions, climate change, drought, ecology, migration, and international aid regimes on agricultural histories and futures. You’ll learn about the struggle to maintain and adapt an agricultural livelihood as input costs rise, land holdings shrink in an environment of increasing climatic uncertainty.
Italy: Rome, Piedmont/Turin
In Rome, you’ll examine the metropolitan food system of Italy’s largest city and discover the country’s highly evolved food regionalism, food histories, and resilient food cooperatives. You’ll hear from policy experts at multiple United Nations institutions around the city, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Committee on World Food Security, Codex Alimentarius Commission, and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development, and learn how international aid and trade regimes impact food security struggles in the global south and north. You’ll also study the Italian and European Union’s complex and innovative food safety, identity, and trade regulation systems and their roles in ensuring long-term health and protecting local livelihoods, cultural traditions, and landscapes.
Travel north to the Piedmont region, where you’ll meet with the global Slow Food movement, visit the University of Gastronomic Sciences, and experience the UNESCO-recognized World Heritage agricultural landscape of the Langhe area. Here, you’ll expand your food knowledge in a region steeped in multiple culinary traditions and cultures while learning about traditional family farming, artisanal production, gastronomy as a driver of regional economic growth, and the importance of celebrating food—from global food fairs to village food festivals and from regional urban markets to rural agricultural tourism.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.
Joseph Lanning, PhD, Program Director
Joe is an economic and agricultural anthropologist who has worked in higher education as both an educator and administrator while conducting research on agricultural decision making and food security. He holds a BA in anthropology, with a focus on gender studies, and an MA in global history from the University of Rochester and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Georgia. Much of his work focuses on the agricultural livelihoods of rural Malawians as they navigate climatic, environmental, and economic risk and uncertainty in their efforts to achieve food security. Joe is an alum (fall ’98) of SIT’s semester abroad program in Kenya. His time as an SIT student inspired him to volunteer with the US Peace Corps and work in the areas of public health, irrigation, and alternative agriculture. His research and teaching has since led him to work and travel through much of southern Africa, and, in addition to directing the Rethinking Food Security program, he is currently a managing partner for a small-scale permaculture demonstration farm in Malawi. Joe has more than a decade’s experience teaching and managing anthropology research methods field schools in Malawi and Samoa for undergraduate, high school, medical, and graduate students.
Zufan Hagos, MA, Program Manager
Zufan holds a BS in secondary education and Spanish from the University of Vermont and an MA in international education from SIT Graduate Institute. Zufan’s work has focused on multicultural education, service-learning, language acquisition, and international education. Prior to joining IHP, Zufan worked with Putney Student Travel, National Geographic Student Expeditions, and the Center for International Studies designing, managing, and facilitating middle, high school, and college level programs in Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Alyshia Silva, Launch Coordinator
Born and raised in Northeast Los Angeles, Alyshia is the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico and Ecuador. After seeing inequalities in education, housing, transportation, and healthcare in her hometown, Alyshia pursued a degree in environmental analysis and anthropology to study how communities of color are systematically disenfranchised by built and natural environments. Experiencing the transformative power of education as a first generation college student herself, Alyshia later worked for several years with students, families, community organizations, and secondary schools to build racial, gender, and class diversity in higher education. As assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Tufts University, Alyshia worked to increase the representation of students of color and women in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. As director of development at Food First, Alyshia leads the organization’s fundraising efforts, working with individual donors and small family foundations. She believes in the power of grassroots fundraising to sustain our social movements and our collective fight for liberation.
Estefanía Sánchez L., MS, Country Coordinator, Ecuador
Estefi is an urbanist and educator who worked as a Trustees’ Fellow in the International Honors Program Cities in the 21st Century. She has a master’s degree in urbanization and development from the London School of Economics and a BA in policy studies and Latin American studies focused on education from Lafayette College. Her passion for food security merged with her dissertation at LSE, “Cities of Knowledge,” in which one of her main themes of study was the effect of urbanization on agricultural land and the livelihood of farmers in Ecuador. While in Ecuador, she worked as an urbanist specializing in emergency response and planning processes for cities suffering from disasters, particularly strong seismic events. Furthermore, she has developed within the social sphere inter-sectorial projects with international and local NGOs, public institutions, and private enterprise in Latin America. Estefi is an alum of SIT in Chile and Argentina (2009) and of IHP in Canada, India, and Mexico (2008).
Geoffrey Mlongoti, Country Coordinator, Malawi
Geoffrey is the manager of Zistinthe Farm and Community Garden in the Ntcheu District of central Malawi. He began his work in food security with the Permaculture Network of Malawi and as a counterpart to Peace Corps volunteers. Over the last two decades, he has been a research assistant and translator for researchers from numerous universities and development projects. Most recently, Geoff worked alongside medical students studying food security and examining the relationship between seasonality and exclusive breastfeeding of infants in rural Malawi. Geoff was born in Blantyre, the “industrial capital” of Malawi, and raised in Gowa Village, the site of this program’s rural homestay. He studied computing and information technology at Skyway Business College in Blantyre and enjoys being a catalyst in the learning and transformation students’ experience studying in Malawi.
Paola Baravalle, MPhil, Country Coordinator, Italy
Paola is the deputy director of the Conservatory of Mediterranean Food in Turin and a European projects planner accredited in Brussels. She is a psychologist with an MPhil and has worked with the UN’s Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. She has managed cross-border cooperation projects for more than 14 years and has directed education projects on the environment, food heritage, and enhancement of land resources. Paola was head of the involvement, animation, and facilitation process for the Monviso area’s recognition as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and co-developed the dossier recognizing the reserve at the transboundary level. In 2015, she participated in the city and University of Turin’s working groups that defined a strategic atlas on food.
Jennifer Wallace, PhD, Traveling Faculty
Jennie holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY (including a study-abroad year in Italy); a certificate of advanced studies in environmental diplomacy from the University of Geneva; a master’s degree in international relations from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva; and a PhD in political science from the University of Maryland. Prior to attending the University of Maryland, Jennie worked in Switzerland as a training course coordinator at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and spent time in Nepal as a volunteer teacher. She has taught courses in development studies and environmental politics at several institutions, most recently for the University of Maryland, Washington College, and American University. Her research focuses on the representation of smallholder farmers and local resource users in national and transnational political frameworks, particularly in the context of authoritarian regimes. She received a Fulbright Scholarship in 2013 to observe how residents of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta are adapting to the climate change, urbanization, and upstream development that threaten their livelihoods and communities.
Jessie Mazar, MA, Trustees’ Fellow
Jessie worked as Trustees Fellow with Rethinking Food Security in spring 2017. She is also an alumna of IHP. Jessie’s previous work has focused on community-building, story-telling, hands-on education, and food justice. She worked on an applied research project in Vermont from 2011 to 2016 that investigated food access strategies among Latino/a migrant farmworkers. During that time, she co-facilitated a community-based food access project called Huertas that facilitates the planting of kitchen gardens with fresh, culturally familiar vegetables and herbs on farms where farm workers are living and working. In 2016 Jessie received a master’s degree in food systems, a transdisciplinary program at the University of Vermont. For four years, Jessie coordinated and taught at an educational garden and permaculture project in Burlington where she kept beehives and learned about medicinal plants. Jessie has also worked on farm-to-school education initiatives in Burlington, where she built school gardens, ran after-school programs, taught summer classes, and incorporated food systems education into the school year curriculum.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will live with a host family for between two and four weeks at each program site except the US. Homestays are the primary form of accommodation on the program; other accommodations can include guest houses, hostels, dormitories, and/or small hotels.
Family structures vary in every place. For example, the host family may include a single mother of two small children or a large extended family with many people coming and going all the time. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.
Country coordinators in each location arrange homestay placements. In most cases, students will be placed in homestays in pairs, with placements made to best accommodate health concerns, including allergies or dietary needs. You will not receive information about homestay families until you arrive in each country.
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Content and logistics for field programs in Berkeley and Santa Cruz, Ecuador, Malawi, and Italy
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in the following courses:
- People, Identity, and Food
- Getting from Field to Fork
- Agriculture, Ecology, and Sustainable Futures
- Politics, Ethics, and Food Security
- Guest lectures and panel discussions
- Site visit hosts and facilitators
- Transportation to classroom spaces and daily program activities
- All educational excursions, including all related travel costs
- Traveler’s health insurance throughout the entire program period
- Instructional materials
- Other direct program costs
Note: Break costs are not covered by program fees; students are responsible for this.
- Group travel during the program
- This travel includes all flights and a flight back to a city in the US at the conclusion of the program, arranged by our travel agent.
Room & Board: $4,500
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in all four countries, urban and rural stays, all excursions, and the final retreat. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays in Ecuador, Malawi, and Italy
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
Domestic Airfare to Program Launch Site
Domestic airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $275
Books & Supplies: $150
International Phone: Each student must bring a smart phone that is able to accept a local SIM card with them to their program, or they must purchase a smart phone locally.
Break: $500 - $800
Please note: This is an estimated range based on student surveys from past semesters. Students' individual needs for their breaks will vary. For the entirety of the break period, students will be responsible for all of their expenses, including travel and room and board.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.
In order to make study abroad more accessible, SIT's partner colleges and universities may charge home school tuition fees for their students participating on an SIT Study Abroad program. If your institution has an agreement with SIT and charges fees different from those assessed by SIT, please contact your study abroad advisor for more details. The SIT published price is the cost to direct enroll in the SIT program. Tuition fees may vary for students based on your home college's or university's billing policies with SIT.
Relevant career paths include:
- Agriculture and food production
- Nonprofit management
- International development
- Sustainability and climate change