Prof. Pier Matteo Barone presents "The Bioarchaeology of Food: you were what you ate!" on April 18, 2019

Prof. Barone's guest lecture for ARC 404 Archaeology of Food focuses attention on the ancient food remains recorded by archaeology and analyzed by biomolecular approaches. It discusses the importance of these evidences for both zooarchaeological and bioarchaeological studies. In particular, the scientific study of human and animal remains can provide the best insight into the diet of our ancestors, defining past cultures through their food consumption.
Finally, thanks to several case studies, it highlights the importance of bioarchaeology not just for ancient but also for modern CSI scenarios.


'Eating for 1.5°C: Contested pathways to ‘cooler’ diets': guest lecture by Dr Colin Sage, Department of Geography, UCC & Chair of the Cork Food Policy Council on April 3, 2019

Lecture details and video recording of the full lecture available here.


B.A. Program in English Writing, Literature and Publishing hosts two special guest lectures for ENG 321 A Moveable Feast: Writing About Food.

On Monday, November 5, 2018, students will participate in a Q&A with Elizabeth Minchilli, food writer, author, blogger, app maker.
The week after on Monday, November 12th, the class welcomes guest speaker Rachel Roddy, writer of a regular food column in The Guardian, A Kitchen in Rome, and author of two highly acclaimed cookbooks. 


M.A. Food Studies Students attend Committee on World Food Security at FAO

The week of October 15-19, 2018, the M.A. Food Studies students had a unique opportunity to attend the 45th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), an annual conference hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). Representatives from non-profit organizations, the private sector, and governments all over the world gathered to participate in formal plenary sessions as well as a series of side-events, typically discussion panels on various topics concerning food security. This year’s Food Studies students registered as participants in the CFS and attended one such side-event, “Let's get down to business: Public-private partnerships for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” on October 17 as part of their Global Food Economy course.

The panel, hosted by the Swedish FAO Committee and Swedish government, revolved around the idea of making business the driver of sustainable development. Panelists from the Swedish multinational corporation Tetra Laval, the NGO Vi Agroforestry, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, and the FAO’s Division of Partnerships and South-South Cooperation spoke about their experiences in collaborations between public and private sectors on different sustainability projects. Collaboration itself is not a goal, one panelist noted, but rather the means to achieving overlapping sustainable development and business objectives.  After the event, Professor Termine took the class on a small tour of the building and discussed the panel presentations in the FAO cafeteria.

Some students also attended the side event “Transition towards Agroecology,” organized by Switzerland, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), the Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et des Producteurs Agricoles de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (ROPPA), France and Senegal.   At this session, chaired by Prof. Emile Frison, panelists presented case studies from around the world in which farmers, social movements, and political leaders have successfully implemented agro-ecological approaches to agricultural production.

These experiences were not only enriching because of what the students learned during the events but also because, for most of the students, it was their first time in FAO headquarters.  Participating in events like the CFS highlights the uniqueness of the AUR Food Studies program for its ability to engage students with surrounding institutions on food policy.

Author: Eva Reynolds
Photo credit: 
©FAO/Carlo Perla


Sustainable Diets: contending and entangled pathways, guest lecture by Harriet Friedmann presented by AUR's Center for Food Studies and the M.A. Program in Food Studies together with the Harvard Club of Italy on Thursday, October 18, 2018.

Critical approaches to the sustainability of food systems have come from many directions: consumption, marketing, procurement, processing, and farming. Sustainable diets offer a promising way to integrate health of people and the health of ecosystems. Since it is clear that the dominant pathway of the food system has led to diets that are unsustainable for human bodies and for landscapes, this talk explores contending ways to link health and environment. It includes some of the ways to make this link for theory, policy, and practice, focusing on relations of power that these approaches express or hide. 

Harriet Friedmann is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Toronto, presently Visiting Professor at LEST, University Aix Marseille. She was past Visiting Professor at the Carleton University in Ottawa, Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University) in The Hague, CPDA Research Centre of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, and CIRAD in Montpellier. Her publications span several aspects of food and agriculture, notably as co-developer of the historical food regimes approach, which specifies periods of power, accumulation, and diets on a world scale, and even more important, transitions between regimes. Her recent publications are on international policies and ecological theories related to food system transformation and emergent governance across social/natural scales, as cities and capital have reorganized the biosphere and ethnosphere. Her current project is Global Political Ecology of Food. Friedmann was Chair of the Toronto Food Policy Council within Toronto Public Health in the 1990s, and is now in her third term as councillor. She serves on several editorial boards of food, agriculture, and global change journals and several nonprofit boards, e.g., USC-Canada, which supports small farmers in its Seeds of Survival projects across the world, Toronto Advisory Committee for the FAO-RUAF city-food region project, and Toronto Seed Library. She was Chair of the Political Economy of the World-System Research Section of the American Sociological Association, and participated in the IAASTD Global Report. She received the 2011 Lifetime Achievement award by the Canadian Association of Food Studies.


AUR Center for Food Studies and M.A. in Food Studies program welcomes guest lecturers from World Food Programme

On September 20, 2018, the AUR Center for Food Studies invited two officers of the World Food Programme (WFP), Kusum Hachhethu and Inga Sagolla, to discuss the organization’s mVAM (mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping) program addressing food insecurity in remote areas.

The presentation was given as part of the M.A. Food, Environment, and Society course to an audience of not only M.A. in Food Studies students but also several other interested faculty. In addition to shedding light on the complexities of remote data collection, the presenters discussed the general structure, scope, and mission of WFP.

WFP is the world’s largest hunger-fighting humanitarian organization and, uniquely, is entirely funded by voluntary donations. In 2013, the Programme debuted mVAM, a data collection system conducted primarily via mobile phones, to gather food security information in areas where it is deemed too dangerous and/or difficult to deploy surveyors. The system allows mobile and computer surveys to be completed within 14 days, as compared to the 6 weeks typically required for face-to-face interviews, and is relatively inexpensive. WFP offers a free, detailed online course to explain how and why the mVAM operates.

After explaining the six survey tools employed by mVAM – computer-assisted telephone interviewing, SMS surveys, interactive voice responses, online surveys, free websites, and chatbots – Sagolla and Hachhethu discussed the nuances of navigating regional and social norms during data collection. Extensive groundwork preparation is crucial to introducing mVAM in new areas: WFP employees go into the localities to assess Internet accessibility, cellular network strength, and cellphone prevalence as well as establish trust with the locals. Sagolla and Hachhethu underscored just how important it is to promote public willingness to participate in the program.

The M.A. students asked the presenters many questions about mVAM as well as for advice in pursuing careers and internships at the WFP. Everyone was very appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about the Programme, and the Center for Food Studies hopes to continue collaborating with WFP to promote its objectives and engage M.A. students with the Organization.

Author: Eva Reynolds


AUR Team of students and faculty attend the Seeds & Chips – The Global Food Innovation Summit, Milan 7-10 May 2018

Two AUR students from Syria were invited by Marco Gualtieri, Seeds & Chips Founder, to participate in the Summit and to take part in two prominent discussions. 
Rama Jalab (Communications) was featured on a panel with Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Schultz.  Based on her experience of Starbucks in Lebanon, she asked Howard Schultz whether Starbucks, in addition to coffee, sells more spiritual values and a cosmopolitan way of life.   “One has to imprint the product with values” responded Howard Schultz “our values are truth, trust, and transparency”. In his talk, Howard Schultz emphasized how Starbucks cares for its employees who benefit from health insurance and company-paid college education, and how, in general, the company has always kept a balance between profits and pursuing a positive social impact. For example, Starbucks will be hiring 10,000 refugees. When asked about where he saw the demand of citizens going, he stated that consumers will demand more plant-based foods. He concluded, “Businesses will have to do more as governments are not doing their share”.

The American University of Rome at Seed and Chips in Milan


Firas Al Jabban (Business Administration) was featured on a panel with former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry where he posed the question about what can be done to reduce the impact of the Greenhouse Gas emissions of the food system. John Kerry explained the lengthy international negotiations on climate change that culminated in the Paris COP21 Agreement, a success for diplomacy. He reiterated the importance of diplomacy and the importance for governments to devise and implement energy policies leading to reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  


AUR at The Global Food Summit in Milan


Some observations from the AUR team on the Summit exhibits and presentations on 7 and 8 May.

“I want to be a farmer!” This was the opening statement at the Summit by a seventeen-year-old student.

Urban Farming Nutritowers Seeds & Chips offered a platform to individuals, companies, and organizations to showcase their products and innovations in the food sector. A fundamental theme of the Summit was Water Thirst/Water First, with one entire hall devoted to it. More than 220 exhibitors displayed and talked about their inventions and products, many of them being very young people, a group especially promoted by the Summit organizers.    

Products were exhibited on how to recycle water; to purify water using nanosensor systems; to produce drinking water directly from high saline seawater and brackish water resources as well as from any kind of non-saline polluted water resources (e.g. rivers, creeks, wells). A small appliance was shown that can make up to 10 gallons of water a day simply by mining it out of the air, of usefulness to people who do not have access to fresh water, be they farmers or indoor growers.
Numerous ways were shown of hydroponic, aquaponic or soil-based operations in urban settings with artificial light. Some of them relied on ingenious ways of making use of limited grow space with modular stackable systems or 'nutritowers'. Others consisted of household appliances run with robots.  Many examples were given of vertical farming.

Smallholder farmers were the focus of many presentations and the work of several organizations.  Baobab Mozambique was one of them, a social enterprise with smallholders producing and exporting organic powder and baobab oil. Women have 20% of the shares in the company.

BAO VITA at Seeds n Chips


The public could see and taste some novel foods, advertised as good for your health and good for the planet.  Cricket biscuits were available and also bread and pasta enriched with cricket flour, thereby with a greater amount of proteins.    Seaweeds in the form of spaghetti and bacon were also offered. In addition to seaweed harvesting from the ocean, mass production of algae can also occur through photobioreactors. 


mass production of algae can also occur through photobioreactors


Several organizations attended the Summit, ranging from the Foundations of Syngenta,  Bayer and Bill Gates Foundation to Bioversity International of the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research and the U.N. organizations, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Food Programme. The sessions included representatives from these organizations together with smaller think-tanks, activist organizations and farmers’ associations. Cases were reported on developments in gene editing, digital tools and farm management technologies, various applications of precision agriculture and the development and distribution of ‘scuba rice’ which can withstand floods in flood-prone countries. 

Examples were shown of technologies responding to the needs of farmers in developing countries and of participatory plant breeding programs. The need was discussed for research to ‘scale up’ and also to ‘scale out’ of the laboratories and to be evaluated according to whether the results have been taken up by the actors concerned and not just whether they have been published. ‘Regenerative agriculture’ was highlighted as the type of agriculture that is needed to counteract the negative externalities produced by industrial agriculture through its focus on soil life, storing water and sequestration of CO2.



It was pointed out that there is a need to create a demand for a more sustainable agriculture and greater agrobiodiversity. More than 50% of our calories are derived from just three crops, rice, wheat, and maize; there is work to be done to create a demand for the neglected and underutilized species. Food losses and waste was another area covered by many participants and where there is a myriad of different technological innovations.

The two days spent at the Summit were a useful demonstration of the complexity of the food system governance: the role of the private sector in business development with a social impact, research and innovation; the need for government policies in the areas affecting agriculture, as the energy policy mentioned by John Kerry;  the regulatory frameworks needed at the international level for food safety and trade and the role of civil society organizations in exercising moral pressure and developing enterprises for a socially just food system. The importance of developing research on the neglected and underutilized species was also reiterated in order to counteract the severe reduction of agrobiodiversity that is occurring in the world.   


Watch the keynote speeches

You can watch the keynote speeches by Howard Schultz, Starbucks Executive Chairman, and John Kerry, 68th U.S. Secretary of State, here. 


Food Studies field trip to Trebotti sustainable winery in the province of Viterbo

On May 4, 2018, students from the Master in Food Studies went on a field visit for the course in Sustainable Food Systems. TREBOTTI is a family-owned 30 hectares organic vineyard in the hills of Castiglione in Teverina (VT). The farm is primarily run by the young award-winning agronomist Ludovico Maria Botti who has conducted research on the cloning and breeding of a grape variety suitable for the local soil conditions called Aleatico di Gradoli. Ludovico, as a young farmer, focuses his business model on three key aspects: sustainability, innovation and networking.
The winery has several methods of defining and identifying itself with sustainable practices, ranging from the idea of closed-loop models (from compost to water use) and soil cover under vineyards managed by animals to the production of wine without added sulfites. Ludovico creates his own compost from agricultural waste and manure from his mule. These practices give added value to the wines produced and directly sold by the farm. 
Regarding innovation, Ludovico is continuously looking at new solutions for managing his farm. He showed the students a recently developed biogas machine used to process the biomass created at farm level in order to produce energy to heat and cool the building where processing the wine takes place. Ludovico is also proactive in creating a network with several different players, from like-minded farmers and local institutions to universities and consumers in the city.
The students concluded their visit at FARMERS cafe and shop at the Tiburtina train station. This business, opened by TREBOTTI together with other farmers in Rome, provides an interesting example of the urban-rural link. Author: Prof. Livia Ortolani


M.A. Food Studies students take a field visit to the towns of Amatrice and Campotosto for a different, local perspective on the role of rurality for development following earthquake devastation.

April 6th marks the anniversary of the 2009 earthquake that devastated the city of L'Aquila in Abruzzo and set off a series of seismic events that have since been affecting a large portion of Central Italy, particularly in the Apennine mountain area. On April 6, 2018, as part of the elective course Food, Rurality and Local Development with Prof. Emilio Cocco, AUR’s M.A. in Food Studies students traveled to Amatrice and Campotosto, two of the towns that most suffered in a violent quake that took place in 2016. Representatives from the Montreale (L'Aquila)-based Movimento per la Terra (Movement for the Earth), a network of NGOs working on civil society initiatives to back small farms and breeding enterprises in a territory between the regions of Abruzzo, Umbria and Lazio, guided the group for this interesting and significant field visit.

Rural economy is a crucial sector in the above-mentioned area, where farms are scattered all over a poorly populated mountain region that suffered relevant material and symbolic losses. Movimento per la Terra focuses on reconnecting the local enterprises with a wider international market by building up and sustaining positive relationships between farms and NGOs that are willing to help. The students visited the town of Amatrice and its surroundings to observe examples of post-earthquake rural-based reconstruction activities. They had the opportunity to observe the ruins of the deserted old town center and visit a small cheese factory with livestock just outside the center. They witnessed the struggle of the few remaining residents to keep their jobs and identity alive, although the majority is still living and working in provisional tensile structures. Finally, they stopped at the newly built "food area" close to the public school district, where the historical restaurants of Amatrice were relocated in prefabricated structures made of wood. Here the students enjoyed a typical lunch at "La Conca", one of the legendary restaurants of Amatrice, home of the renowned "pasta all’amatriciana" recipe. After lunch, the re-energized AUR group arrived at Campotosto, once a tourist resort destination by the lake, now almost completely demolished by the earthquake. The group walked through the spooky town center around the picturesque mountain lake and spoke to the local residents. The day’s visit ended at "La Mascionara" farm that is supporting earthquake struck breeders of Amatrice by buying their meat and milk and turning them into high quality products. After a full, eye-opening day in the field, the students returned to Rome with a different, unconventional view of the role of rurality for development and a wonderful selection of typical food products to enjoy and keep the memory alive. See article with photo gallery hereAuthor: Professor Emilio Cocco 


Martignano: a farmer as custodian of the environment and biodiversity

On 13 March 2018, students of the Master in Food Studies visited a farm of 140 ha, located on the beautiful lake of Martignano in a natural park of the Lazio region about 30 km from Rome, as part of the course on Sustainable Food Systems

The farmer, Aurelio, an engineer, explained and showed to the students the crops, vegetables and animals that the farm produces, including the part that qualifies as organic. He emphasized the constraints under which his farm operates, being in a natural park of the Region. He has to comply with many regulations that reduce his productivity, and therefore his revenues, while having to cope with the growing population of wild boars that destroy his crops. His produce is sold locally to clients who know and appreciate the quality. He underlined how his choices are driven by quality and prices rather than by quantity and yields. On the other hand, the location in a natural park offers his farm the opportunity to operate as an agro-tourism, with a number of activities aimed at tourists, thereby contributing to a large percentage of his yearly income.

The farm also hosts a cooperative of seven migrants, Barikama, who produce yogurt that they sell by bicycling to their clients’ homes. Thanks to the presence of the Barikama cooperative, the farm enlarged the organic vegetable garden and reach consumers in Rome. 

As a participant in a European Commission meeting he stated and posed the question: “I am happy that the activities of my farm maintain the environment and the biodiversity of the area, but should I be the only one to bear the costs of such maintenance?” This led to a reflection on private and public goods and on the role of the public and private sectors in fostering and managing sustainable food systems. For the students, Aurelio represents the ‘innovative farmers’ coming up in Italy and in Europe that wish to re-establish a new relationship between farming, nature and social goals. He demonstrated how these innovative ‘rural entrepreneurs’ face the hardships and risks involved in farming on a multifunctional farm, and the management skills they require in order to deal with the regional government authorities, the organic accrediting agencies and the European Union regulations and subsidies.


The New Rurality: foraging and cooking at Metafarm’s social and food lab in Positano, M.A. Food Studies Field Trip

On March 2, 2018, a group of M.A. Food Studies students took a field trip as part of the course on Food, Rurality and Local Development to visit Metafarm, located outside of Naples in Positano, on the slopes of the hills leading down to the beautiful Amalfi coast.

“Metafarm” is an organization with the purpose to act within the global food system by designing local activities and events strictly related to rurality. Their mission is to reestablish a more balanced relationship between food and people. Accordingly, “Metafarm” focuses on small-scale production and uses a multidisciplinary approach to challenge the systemic vulnerabilities of the current food system. The pillars of its approach are active participation, education, community awareness and research.

Under the guidance of Prof. Emilio Cocco and Giacomo Miola, co-owner of Metafarm, students explored an example of “new rurality”, which is progressively changing the Italian and European countryside by making the “rural” more attractive and useful for society as a whole.

The AUR group followed Giacomo on a gastronomic hike to the hills above Positano, an area still untouched by the noisy waves of mass tourism. Students were involved in foraging and wild plant harvesting, filling their baskets with spontaneous flowers, leaves and grass. At the same time, they were learning about the names, origins and traditional culinary use of these ingredients that cannot be found in restaurants or learned about in a local tourist office.

Giacomo and the Metafarm team left their previous careers in unrelated fields, such as designing and psychology, in order to return to the rural. They restored the old family house on the higher part of the hills, towering above the blue sea below, with the aim to offer international visitors the opportunity to embody and experience the landscape surrounding Positano that is not a part of conventional tourism. To forage and cook at Metafarm is a way of reviving the old and established rural culture that Giacomo hopes will serve also to empower a community strained by emigration and demographic loss.

AUR students proved to be skilled cooks and even better gourmets. In spite of the lavish self-made meal with an abundance of wild plant-based dishes (homemade ravioli, quiche, fried green leaves and other delicacies), there was still room to enjoy a traditional pizza in the bustling center of Naples before taking the train back to Rome!


AUR’s M.A. program in Food Studies and Center for Food Studies together with the Harvard Club of Italy presents 'Metabolism of Global Cities: London, Manchester, Chicago: the history of imperial, industrial and agro-industrial cities that drew in "food" as they emerged and transformed landscapes far away.' A Guest Lecture by Harriet Friedmann on April 9, 2018.

The history of cities can be seen through the metaphor of metabolism -- the conversion of energy from outside an organism into its life-sustaining processes. Cities are best understood not as amorphously “global”, but rather as concretely translocal, successively shaping and reshaping distant (as well as contiguous) biocultural landscapes.   London, Manchester and Chicago arose. in a specific sequence. Slavery and sugar were keys to the metabolism of imperial London, at the same time transforming biocultural landscapes in Africa and the Americas; later American slavery was deepened and extended into new landscapes to provide cotton to feed the mills of industrial Manchester, together with landscapes incorporated or marginalized in Africa and Asia; finally, many industrial cities following the template of Manchester called forth cattle and wheat from transformed indigenous landscapes to feed agro-industrial Chicago.

Harriet Friedmann is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Toronto, presently Visiting Professor at LEST, University Aix Marseille. She was past Visiting Professor at the Carleton University in Ottawa, Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus University) in The Hague, CPDA Research Centre of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, and CIRAD in Montpellier. Her publications span several aspects of food and agriculture, notably as co-developer of the historical food regimes approach, which specifies periods of power, accumulation, and diets on a world scale, and even more important, transitions between regimes. Her recent publications are on international policies and ecological theories related to food system transformation and emergent governance across social/natural scales, as cities and capital have reorganized the biosphere and ethnosphere. Her current project is Global Political Ecology of Food. Friedmann was Chair of the Toronto Food Policy Council within Toronto Public Health in the 1990s, and is now in her third term as councillor. She serves on several editorial boards of food, agriculture, and global change journals and several nonprofit boards, e.g., USC-Canada, which supports small farmers in its Seeds of Survival projects across the world, Toronto Advisory Committee for the FAO-RUAF city-food region project, and Toronto Seed Library. She was Chair of the Political Economy of the World-System Research Section of the American Sociological Association, and participated in the IAASTD Global Report. She received the 2011 Lifetime Achievement award by the Canadian Association of Food Studies. Event information and registration here.

AUR Visiting Professor Colin Sage guest lecture at the Italian Geography Society on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.

On Tuesday January 30, 2018, students of AUR's Master Program in Food Studies attended a guest lecture at the Italian Geography Society presented by Colin Sage, visiting professor at AUR and Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University College Cork. In his talk entitled The global food system, nitrogen and the metabolic rift: Farming - and eating -within planetary boundaries, Prof. Sage discussed how the planetary scale processes, especially those that are approaching or even transgressing limits, capture something of the ‘metabolic rift’ as originally conceived by Karl Marx. Given his concern for the robbing of soil fertility by capitalist agriculture, it seems apposite to consider the way in which the apparently successful ‘solution’ has served to disrupt a key global nutrient cycle. The metaphor of metabolic rift will be developed by focussing upon the nitrogen cycle and the ways in which its global disequilibrium has resulted from an industrialised global food system that has reshaped agriculture around the world. If we are to recover and restore planetary balance in this particular area, then it becomes clear that we must examine the potential for transition towards an agroecological model of food production that makes greater use of local nutrient cycling pathways.

Cash it out? Why food-based programs exist, and how to improve them.

Dr. Harold Alderman, Visiting Professor of The American University of Rome (AUR) , Senior Research Fellow of the Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) gave a seminar in FAO on 18 January 2018 on the recent book he co-authored entitled “The 1.5 Billion People Question: Food, Vouchers, or Cash Transfers?” 

India’s state of Chhattisgarh faced a daunting challenge in the mid-2000s. About half of its public food distribution was leaked, meaning that it never reached the intended beneficiaries. By 2012, however, Chhattisgarh had nearly eliminated leakages, doubled the coverage of the scheme, and reduced exclusion errors to low single digits. How did they do it? Recent experimental trials have helped immensely in estimating the comparative impacts of cash and food transfers with precision and minutiae. But they don’t tell us how change occurs, a question for which we need to look at a broader horizon of time, perspectives and factors. The exploration of such quandary is the core tenet of the new edited volume, The 1.5 Billion People Question: Food, Vouchers, or Cash Transfers? The book examines if and how large-scale, domestic food-based programs in six countries evolved over time, including the Ration Cards and Baladi bread subsidies in Egypt, the Targeted Public Food Distribution System (TPDS) in India, the Rastra (ex Raskin) scheme in Indonesia, the Programa de Apoyo Alimentario (PAL) in Mexico, the Samurdhi food stamp program in Sri Lanka, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or ex-food stamps) in the United States.

Read full article, watch book launch video and download book in PDF here.


Nutrition Policies and Programs with Professor Harold Alderman, January 8-19, 2018.

This course is part of the M.A. in Food Studies and is also open when it runs yearly during J-Term to anyone who would like to audit the class for a fee of 900 Euros. For more information on the course in January 2019:

The course on Nutrition Policies and programs lays out a framework for the interplay of food, health and sanitation, and child care as underlying determinant of nutrition. Using this framework the course illustrates levers for change and the evidence on what works to improve nutrition, from both the standpoint of economic returns as well as human rights.

The course is developed over ten modules covering: the global picture of malnutrition – concepts and measurement; consequences of malnutrition; becoming undernourished; nutrition within a Life-Cycle Model; underlying determinants of malnutrition; Nutrition Specific Interventions (I): evidence on improved care practices (including breast feeding and growth promotion) and support to complementary feeding and (II) micronutrient programs including supplements, fortification, and biofortification; Nutrition Sensitive Interventions (I): Agriculture; (II) Social Protection; (III) Linking early child development with nutrition.

Harold Alderman is an expert on the economics of nutrition and food policy. Early in his career he spent 10 years at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on the Consumption and Food Nutrition Policy Program. He joined the World Bank in 1991 dividing his time between the Development Research Group and the Africa region. He was responsible for a variety of projects throughout Africa and Asia, including technical assistance on poverty mapping, research on nutrition, education and labor, agricultural sector strategic planning and social protection policy. He rejoined IFPRI in 2012, as Senior Research Fellow in the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division. His current research has focused on the linkages between nutrition and early child development and the means by which nutrition and social protection programs contribute to long term economic growth. His latest work has been editing the book “The 1.5 billion People Question: Food, Vouchers, or Cash Transfers?” His teaching experience includes Cornell University, Yale University, University of California, Berkeley, The Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Tokyo.

AUR students invited by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to attend the 14th McGovern Lecture given by Dr. Joe Glauber at the Food and Agriculture Organization on November 20, 2017    

Dr. Glauber is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington. Previously, he spent over 30 years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he was also the chief agricultural negotiator in the Doha talks. His areas of expertise are price volatility, global grain reserves, crop insurance and trade.

The topic of Dr. Glauber’s lecture was ‘Addressing Global Nutrition Problems’. He gave an overview of the status of undernutrition in the world as well as data on overnutrition and obesity, pointing out the persistence of these problems in some countries while also acknowledging a general progress. He then showed the growth in international agricultural trade, including south-south trade. He drew the attention of the audience to the increased trade of processed food products that are considered to be the exportation of bad nutrition, in that such products are high fat (turkey tails, mutton flaps), high sodium (snack food) and sugar-sweetened beverages. In conclusion, Dr. Glauber reviewed the most common policies followed by governments and their impact on nutrition: domestic farm policies, trade measures, taxes, subsidies and labeling/education.

At the end of the talk, the AUR students of the Master in Food Studies were invited to an exclusive round table meeting in the India Room with Dr. Glauber where they had the opportunity to discuss more in depth some of the points raised in the general lecture. Dr. Glauber gave an update on the Farm Bill and, when asked, expressed the view that farm support policies distort prices and should gradually be eliminated. He also elaborated further on taxing items to discourage consumption and highlighted the importance of analyzing the impact, citing the cases of Mexico and Berkeley. He answered questions on taxing ‘junk food’, pointing out the difficulty in defining ‘junk food’. He also reported on a recent study demonstrating that labeling affects little change in behavior.

Urban Agriculture in Rome:  MA Food Studies students visit a small-scale farm, November 17, 2017

Following his lecture at AUR on the International Planning Committee on Food Sovereignty, Antonio Onorati invited the MA Food Studies students to visit his farm in the city of Rome. He told the interesting story about how his family obtained 8 hectares and a small house in 1958, as a result of the 1952 agrarian reform that benefited 1 million Italians in Tuscany, Lazio and Puglia. In addition to their owned property, the family rents 20 hectares of land. Mr. Onorati pointed out that in Italy there are 3.5 million small-scale farmers, small-scale in Italy being defined by the level of income (below 50.000 Euro per year).

The Onorati farm is about 20 km from Rome but it is still within the city limits. The farm is organic, growing wheat and barley, with 150 sheep, seven pigs (nero-reatino), geese and chickens. It also has an orchard for own consumption. The family only uses manure as fertilizer and produces its own seeds. Two members of the family now work on the farm, in addition to their still active 90 and 93 years old parents. To make ends meet, the family also has parrots and pheasants. Despite its location in the city limits of Rome, the surrounding area is relatively poor in services and cultural amenities. Therefore, the two brothers have strong doubts that their children will carry on farming.

Students asked questions about the labor requirements, yields, sales, the cost and requirements of the organic certification. It was a most interesting trip to see a farm in the city of Rome, with a farmer like Antonio Onorati, with other occupations and with a socially and politically engaged commitment towards small-scale farming in Italy but also small-scale farming in the world, as member of the International Planning Committee on Food Sovereignty. The students were very grateful to Onorati for the warm hospitality and his sharing of the family’s experience of owning a small-scale farm in the city of Rome.    

M.A. Food Studies Guest Lecture on Food Sovereignty, October 25, 2017

Antonio Onorati, President of Crocevia, an Italian non-governmental organization, and member of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), came to the class of the Master in Food Studies to talk about food sovereignty and the rights of farmers. The IPC is an autonomous and self-organized global platform of small-scale food producers, rural workers organizations and grass root/community based social movements that are committed to advancing the Food Sovereignty agenda at the global and regional level.

Mr. Onorati explained that food sovereignty is the right of the people to determine how they grow, distribute and eat food within a given area. Around the world, small-scale famers and food producers are often marginalized in the face of the globalization of food and political underrepresentation. The IPC works with small scale actors to help them organize and collectively lobby on issues pertaining to small scale farming and fishing.

The IPC looks to implement a small-scale approach to farming that involves the participation of small-scale farmers and the recognition of land rights of poor and indigenous farmers. The IPC believes that the knowledge of the poor and indigenous farmers can help with biodiversity and help maintain food security. In contrast, they feel large multi-national corporations put the system at risk, because of their vulnerability to political shifts and their contribution to environmental degradation. Disruptions like war and climate change can put the whole system at risk when it is controlled by a few large stakeholders. For IPC, this is what makes food sovereignty so imperative for global food security.

For AUR students, this lecture explored the intersection between the politics of food production and the rights of the farmers around the world. Mr. Onorati’s passion for farmers’ rights and food sovereignty is strong, and as a result, he forced the students to think – what will the future of food be? Local or global? Small-scale or large-scale?
Author: Rick Randel, Graduate Student Assistant

AUR hosts a discussion on the political economy of agricultural biotechnology with Dr. Shuji Hisano of Kyoto University

Dr. Shuji Hisano, Professor of International Political Economy of Agriculture from the Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Japan, visited the AUR Graduate School on September 17, 2017 to talk about the politics of biotechnology. He discussed how to understand and critically analyze agricultural biotechnologies from a political economy perspective.

So, what exactly is biotechnology? The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity defines biotechnology as "Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use". Dr. Hisano showed that we have been using bio technology for years in the fermentation of cheese and beer, or the breeding of select plants and animals for agriculture. However, in recent decades, there have been many advances in biotechnology and the emergence of genetically engineered and modified organisms. This has sparked a lively debate as to what the future of the food system can and should be.

With that question, Dr. Hisano demonstrated the role of big business as a political actor in the era of globalization, and the impact that has on the global food system. As biotechnology increases in global use, the power structure shifts to a system where the control of agriculture shifts away from the state and the producers, to those who control the technology.

He sees the implementation of technology in food and agricultural as not only a scientific question, but one that should involve social factors. As biotechnology increases in scale, how will this impact local producers and suppliers, as well as the global consumer? Dr. Hisano stressed the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, which involves social scientists working with farmers, policy makers, and business to analyze bio-tech and its relationship to not only the global food system, but, local agriculture and food systems.

For the AUR Graduate Students this offered a unique chance to discuss the current biotechnological landscape in the food system, to better understand it, and also to think about what future they want to help shape.

Author: Rick Randel, M.A. Food Studies.


Fall 2017 guest lecturer Elizabeth Goldstein - What does it mean to eat mindfully?

In September 2017, The Center for Food Studies was pleased to welcome guest speaker Elizabeth Goldstein, certified dietician nutritionist with an MSc in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, author of numerous articles on Nutrition and Wellness and lecturer on current developments in nutrition and their applications in practice. Ms. Goldstein visited AUR to speak to the Food Studies Master students in their core course Food, Environment and Society about overweight and obesity issues among children, adolescents and other groups in urban and rural areas. During her visit at AUR, Ms. Goldstein also presented an interesting and thought-provoking university-wide seminar on “Being Present and The Art of Mindful Easting” on Tuesday September 19, 2017.

Food in Indian Religions, lecture by AUR Visiting Scholar Melanie Barbato

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Food plays an important role in Indian religions. It ranges from the offerings of food to Hindu gods and the free meals for all visitors at Sikh temples to the strict dietary rules of Jain monks. Food is used in Indian religions both to create community and to express and reinforce difference and stratification. The seminar will give an introduction to the three Indian religions Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism and discuss the ethical and political issues that surround the religious meaning of food in these traditions. Indian culture can serve as an example of how people’s dietary choices are not only constrained by income and the market or motivated by seeking health or a pleasurable experience but often also depend on religious expectations and considerations of spiritual auspiciousness, non-violence, duty, purity and pollution.

Melanie Barbato is a post-doctoral researcher in Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology at WWU Münster, Germany. She holds degrees from the University of Stirling, Scotland, the University of Oxford, England, and LMU Munich, Germany. She blogs for the Critical Religion Association and is a member of Occurso, a German institute for interreligious and intercultural dialogue. While in Rome and as a Visiting Scholar at AUR, she will be carrying out library research and conducting interviews as part of her research into high-level Hindu-Christian dialogue.


Talk on ‘Food and Agriculture in Italy Today’ with Evan Kleiman and Fabrizia Lanza

AUR Auriana Auditorium, Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 6:00pm. 

In North America we are used to discussing the sad story of agriculture in the 21st century. The high ecological costs that come from industrial production; the glut of cheap and unhealthy calories; huge food waste yet at the same time tragic food insecurity.

When we think of Italy, however, we assume that things are different. Aren’t Italians the people who understand and value rural life? And isn’t the quality of food tied to preserving the environment? But is this the real story? Or is this a version of Italy that is fast becoming history.

Evan Kleiman, the host of the NPR radio program Good Food, will interview food activist Fabrizia Lanza to discuss some of the most important issues facing Italy today.

Elizabeth Minchilli, a Rome based food writer,  has invited Evan and Fabrizia to Rome to talk about these issues. Following a brief introduction by Elizabeth, Evan will conduct and hour long with Fabrizia, asking her about the agricultural scene in in Italy and her farm and school in particular.  How do small Italian farms survive in the globalized environment of the EU?  What have been the positive and negative results of having a business that relies on international clients.  What is the relationship of  the estate to the local communities?  These are just some of the questions that will be explored.


Lecture by Oscar Farinetti, founder of Eataly

Tuesday, March 7, 2017. Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici (Italian Institute for Germanic Studies) Via Calandrelli, 25, 00153 Roma.

On January 27, 2007, Oscar Farinetti opened the first Eataly in Torino, Italy, with the idea that it would be much more than a store. He wanted to create a school, a market, a table to gather around: a place to learn about food and, through food, about life.

Ten years later, there are more than 35 locations across the world, from New York City to Milano to Dubai. While each store follows the original philosophy of being a place where people can eat, shop, and learn about good food, each is completely unique.

The ongoing success of Eataly can be ascribed to many things – quality of product, breadth of choice, the commitment and knowledge of the Eataly employee family … each of these would be true, in part. But the real secret of Eataly’s success is Oscar Farinetti. More than a businessman, more than a food expert, more than a gastronome, more than a shopkeeper; Oscar Farineti is a philosopher, a dreamer and an adventurer.

Come and hear Mr. Farinetti describe his philosophical approach to entrepreneurship and his visionary recipe for success; whose ingredients range from the identification and management of imperfections to the importance of ingenious narration.



Master in Food Studies Program

M.A. Student Lecture on Water Security: a wicked problem

February 20, 2017

Drawing from management theory and the knowledge acquired through the Master’s in Food Studies, Demo Demandante explained the problem of water security to students of a course on Principles of Management (MGT201) and students of the course on Sustainable Food: Governance, policies and practices (FS301). He defined it as a wicked problem, namely an issue on which there may be a large number of contradictory views and interests, interconnected with other problems and changing through time. He asked students to play the roles of negotiators from different regions and countries of the world, ranging from Colorado to Egypt, Ethiopia and Lesotho, to discuss issues related to water distribution, the high water consumption by the agricultural sector, the sub-national laws and international agreements of the major river basins. He also showed data on the ‘virtual water’ that we eat every day with beef, pork and other products, of which we are not fully aware. Finally, he highlighted studies showing the expected high water demand by 2025 and the shortage of water which may lead to conflicts and mass migrations. By showing how water security is a wicked problem, Demo Demandante also showed how consensus about the problem and the factual knowledge base, communication and negotiations among stakeholders can help towards circumscribing the problem so as to make it more manageable.

Godfred “Demo” Demandante has a Master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence from the U.S. National Intelligence University and a Master’s degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He was an assistant professor in mathematics at the U.S. Air Force Academy and is now a student of the Master in Food Studies at AUR where he brings a wealth of experience.

He was commissioned as a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and subsequently served in the United States Air Force for 28 years. During his career, he flew C-130s in Germany and was posted in NATO. He served as a strategy officer for the European Command in Stuttgart and was a primary advisor during the initial phases of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. While there, he also led the Command Action Group in developing a new U.S. engagement strategy for Africa. In his last job, “Demo” assumed the duties of the military attaché in Bern, Switzerland. In this function, he served as the key conduit for cooperation and engagements between the U.S. and the Swiss militaries and between U.S. and Swiss defense agencies.

Since retiring from the Air Force in 2010, Demo has been a ski and snowboard instructor in Colorado during the winter and a boat inspector in the summer.


Master in Food Studies Program

Lost Food. Food and Communication in the Orthorexic Society. Guest Lecture by Prof. Guido Nicolosi

February 14, 2017

By introducing the socio-anthropological concept of food as aliment, namely natural elements culturally elaborated and consumed within the framework of social codified practices, Professor Nicolosi’s lecture focused on two main issues: the western society as an “orthorexic society” and food’s privileged function as a medium of communication. The paternity of the first applied to the social sphere can be traced to Nicolosi himself, who extended the psychological concept of Orthorexia  nervosa (a psycho-cultural syndrome described as the obsession for healthy and opportune feeding) to the eating behaviors of western societies. By stressing the state of anxiety produced by mankind’s omnivore condition (the so-called “omnivore dilemma”), he argued that the new obsession for the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ food takes the shape of a hyper-reflexivity and hyper-communicative attention paid to food by individuals, groups, and media. Since eating means physically and symbolically incorporating the external world and breaking the barrier between the interior and exterior, not knowing what we eat means not knowing who we are. Three processes drive such new phenomenon: the erosion of the constraining aspect of norms regulating a correct diet (the Culinary Order); the distancing, in the food production sector, of the producer from the consumer (“opacity” of food); and the closure in an individualist frame of the human body. Furthermore, argued Nicolosi, the “cacophony” (mosaic) of discordant alimentary criteria – moral, scientific, dietetic, identity discourses – has created a “gastro-anomy” where media play an important role, as both producers and recipients of narrations. This was clearly proven by the analysis of the narration strategies’ change in time, where positional, causal, perspectival and multi-perspectival advertisement strategies alternated according to the society changes, across the past thirty years. Nicolosi, indeed, clearly proved that the communication world, through narration, is giving back an identity to “objects” that in time have become opaque and unrecognizable owing to cultural and social uprooting.

Guido Nicolosi is Associate Professor in Sociology of Culture and Communication at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Catania, where he teaches sociology of culture and new media. Member of several research teams in national and international research programs, he has been working for the last fifteen years on the issue of “Body, Technology and Society”. He has been visiting scholar at the Universities of Exeter (UK), Aberdeen (UK) and Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne (F). He has been resident fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (IEA) of Nantes (F).He is member of the scientific board of the Groupe de Travail (GT) 41 of the French Sociological Association (AFS) on ”Corps, Technique et Société”; Membre Associé at the Centre d’Étude des Techniques, des Connaissances et des Pratiques (CETCOPRA) of the University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne.


Master in Food Studies Program

AUR-FAO Joint Seminar on The Nexus of Nutrition and Early Child Development

On January 19, 2017 The American University of Rome and FAO are jointly presenting a Seminar to launch the forthcoming publication by Harold Alderman, AUR Visiting Professor, and Lia Fernald The Nexus of Nutrition and Early Child Development.

The paper looks at both nutrition and early child stimulation interventions as part of an integrated life cycle approach to development.  The authors build on recent systematic reviews of child development, which are comprehensive in regards to what is currently known about outcomes reported in key studies. They then focus particularly upon implementation, scaling, and economic returns drawing mainly on experience in low and middle-income countries where under-nutrition and poor child development remain significant public health challenges with implications across the life course.


Graduate Students Attend McGovern Lecture at FAO

22 November 2016, FAO Headquarters

On Tuesday, November 22, the students in the MA Food Studies program attended the 2016 McGovern Lecture at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. This year’s speaker was Kimberly Flowers, director of the Food Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her lecture, titled The Nexus between Food Security and Political Instability, was delivered to an audience of diplomats, senior officials, and students with the purpose of “sustaining the momentum and overwhelming political will to reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition around the world.” Ms. Flowers emphasized the importance for policy makers to acknowledge and take advantage of this often overlooked connection in order to enact productive change. “Food security can stabilize as much as food insecurity can destabilize,” she stated, adding that investing in food security “is a national security imperative.”

Following the lecture, the AUR graduate students were invited to join Ms. Flowers for an informal discussion, where they were given the chance to converse with her about her work in DC, the effects of climate change on global food security, and how their studies and experience best fit into the future of international food policy. Written by Kate J. Truini


How to End Hunger in Times of Crisis, by Andrew MacMillan

14 November 2016, AUR Main Campus

Andrew MacMillan visited the Food, Environment and Society class on November 14th to converse with the Food Studies Masters students about food security and policies. Mr. MacMillan is an agricultural economist, former Director at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN in Rome, and co-author of the book How to End Hunger in Times of Crisis. He has experience in investment projects in the developing world including the Zero Hunger program in Brazil. MacMillan, who tends a three hectare farm in Tuscany and grows all of his own food, admits to having become “obsessed” with hunger. “The idea that anyone in this world should be hungry is absurd,” he stated, adding that this is especially the case when there is a large portion of the population who is eating and wasting more than they need for a healthy life.

From an economic standpoint, Mr. MacMillan illustrated that, “It is a poor investment decision” to not help people get on their feet financially, and enable them to feed themselves. One avenue which he believes has great potential in the challenge to combat hunger is rising the price of food. Though it would be assumed that rising food prices would hurt impoverished people, in fact it has positive effects. Higher food prices in the market brings more money into the economy of developing countries, and such places have actually seen decreases in poverty and hunger after periods of time when the global market prices of food have seen an increase. In addition to its economic benefits, Mr. MacMillan sees raising the cost of foods which are damaging to human health and the environment (two major offenders being meat and sugar) as a way of managing overall consumption and production. Though such a proposition is politically unpalatable, Mr. MacMillan believes that “This is the kind of policy that more thought needs to be given to.”

Taking a break from grappling with the problems of the world, the class even took a moment to enjoy a taste of new olive oil from the MacMillan’s small olive grove.
Author: Kate J. Truini


Graduate Students Enjoy Autumnal Olive Harvest Excursion

5 November 2016

Graduate Students in the Food Studies program traveled to Todi on November 5th to spend the day visiting two agriturismi in the Umbrian hills.

The day began with a visit to Colle delle Querce Agriturismo, which consists of two restored stone villas that host up to 10 guests, and sit upon 7 1/2 hectares of idyllic Umbrian farmland. In a relatively small amount of space, this agriturismo boasts over 500 olive trees, a small vineyard, and a vegetable garden, all of which are used by the hosts, and enjoyed by the guests. The land and the house are managed by Carlo Ferrari and Ellen Klein, who started the agriturismo as a way of reconnecting with the land, and sharing it with others. Ferrari and Klein consider themselves to be “lifestyle entrepreneurs,” who have dedicated their lives to preserving and sharing traditional practices. Ferrari’s father was a farmer, and he says that he found it “very natural to return to the land.” The olive grove and small vineyard produce enough oil and wine each season for the couple to enjoy themselves, share with their guests and family, and sell to neighbors and friends.

Students walked between the rows of olive trees and tried their hand at raking olives from the branches with Ferrari’s cousins, who help tend the grove during harvest. The visit ended with a gathering in the kitchen to enjoy wine from the farm, and bruschetta topped with fresh, bright green olive oil that had been pressed only days previously.

The group then traveled to La Solfarola Agriturismo, where they enjoyed a traditional Umbrian lunch of cinghiale in umido con polenta di farro in the hotel’s restaurant. After a typically long Italian-style lunch, the students, armed with a small cup of limoncello or grappa (homemade, of course), enjoyed a tour of the farm, where the family keeps cows and sheep, in addition to a vegetable garden. All of the food grown on the farm is served in the restaurant, and sold in a shop on site.

La Solfarola sits on 130 hectares of land and hosts up to 30 guests. Similarly to Colle delle Querce, La Solfarola is run entirely by a family – mother, father, and two sons. The entire agriturismo is staffed by extended family members, and outside help is only hired during the summer when the farm, restaurant, and hotel needs a few extra hands.

The day’s excursion ended with a stop at the olive press where Ferrari gets the olives from the grove at Colle delle Querce pressed into oil. Several students purchased 5L jugs of the new oil to bring home, to savor the flavor of an autumn’s afternoon in Todi.

Written by Kate J. Truini.


AUR Hosts Conference on Democratizing Food Governance

14 October 2016, AUR Main Campus and the Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici

AUR hosted its annual food conference on October 14, 2016. Attendees from countries around Europe and representing a diverse selection of disciplines gathered to spend the day discussing this year’s theme, Democratizing Food Governance. Invited speakers included Terry Marsden, Chair of Environmental Policy and Planning, Director of the Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University; Robert Bartlett, Professor, Department Chair and Gund Chair of the Liberal Arts at Vermont University; Egidio Dansero, Professor, Department of Culture, Politics and Society at the University of Turin; and Maria Fonte, Associate Professor at the University of Naples Federico II. In addition to hearing from speakers, attendees broke out into  sessions in the afternoon which included such titles as, “Public Policies for Place-Based Food Systems,” “Urban Agriculture and Civic Food Networks,” and “Actors in Value Chains and Territorial Oriented Agriculture.” After lunch and coffee at the Italian Institute for Germanic Studies, the group reconvened to hear synopses of what was discussed by each break-out group, followed by synthesizing remarks from the Discussant, Colin Sage from University College Cork. Keynote speaker Frank Baber, Professor, Environmental Sciences and Policy Program, and Director, Graduate Center for Public Policy and Administration, California State University – Long Beach, closed the conference with a lecture titled, “Places, Spaces, and the Architecture of Food Governance.”


Indigenous Peoples’ Land Governance and Food Systems Open Forum at FAO

4 October 2016, FAO Headquarters

AUR Food Studies graduate students were invited to attend an open forum at FAO on October 4, 2016 to discuss “the link between Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands and resources and the protection of their traditional food systems.” (FAO)

The event was hosted by FAO in conjunction with the annual meeting of the UN Inter–Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues (IASG), and featured ten panelists, each of whom spoke on some facet of the connection between the lives of indigenous peoples, their land, and their health and livelihood. This included the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, members of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and the Chair of the Indigenous Peoples Youth Network. Also in attendance was Bertha Cáceres, the daughter of Berta Cáceres, a Honduran indigenous and environmental rights activist who was killed in March of this year in relation to her efforts in protesting the building of a hydroelectric dam. Ms. Cáceres spoke eloquently and passionately about the issues still facing her community in Honduras, and urged the crowd to carry on the legacy of her mother, through activism and a commitment to the rights of indigenous communities at the grassroots, community, and international levels.

With protests occurring presently across the United States in opposition to the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the violations of the rights of indigenous peoples are in public consciousness now more than ever, and the interconnection between indigenous peoples’ land rights and their traditional food systems is often overlooked. Erika Yamada, who represented the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) in Brazil, started the panel off by explaining why land and resource rights are so integral to the lives of indigenous communities: “Indigenous lands and natural resources are the basis of the collective living experience of indigenous peoples.” She stated that these issues extend well beyond the concept of property rights, and rather, “are fundamental human rights; the right to land is the key to the right to health, education, and life.”

Over the course of the forum, the panelists shared stories, statistics, challenges facing individual communities and the indigenous population at large, and indicators being used to measure changes over time. The work of the IASG is the loudest voice in support of the rights of indigenous peoples, and each panelist in attendance transmitted incredible passion, urgency, and knowledge.

To learn more, and to view a webcast of the event, visit:

Written by Kate J. Truini


Food Studies Students Learn about the History and Work of the UN World Food Programme

3 October 2016, AUR Main Campus

Prof. Georgia Shaver discussing the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Professor Georgia Shaver visited the Food, Environment and Society class on Monday, 3 Oct. to share with the students of the Masters in Food Studies Program an overview of the history and work of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

Prof. Shaver recently retired from a career of over 30 years with WFP, where she was the Country Director and Representative of WFP’s program in both Ethiopia and Mozambique during the years of catastrophic floods and drought, the Regional Manager for Southern Africa, as well as the first Ombudsman to such countries as Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Haiti and Bangladesh.

WFP was founded in 1964 as a joint undertaking with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and was initially started as an experiment to use food aid to support economic and social development. WFP became independent of FAO in 1990, at which point the organization redefined its identity as a food aid organization, and began to place more emphasis on food assistance. Though the United States heavily subsidizes farmers and the transport of food from the US to WFP for distribution as food aid, over the last few years WFP has prioritized the local procurement of food, which limits transportation costs, and also empowers and supports farmers who are local to the area in need.

Today, WFP is the leader in humanitarian air service and logistics for all UN agencies and NGOs. They partner with the UN, private sector organizations, NGOs, and governments – federal, provincial, county, national, and local – to truly understand the needs and the culture of the people they are assisting.

Providing food assistance is no simple task, and with so many parties involved, things can sometimes get complicated. Varying political interests and needs can get in the way of the real target goal, which is to put an end to hunger across the world. Prof. Shaver has been around the world and back with WFP, and concluded her talk by sharing that she kept her moral compass aligned by always remembering that,  “At the end of the day, you are feeding hungry people – and that is not a political act.” Author: Kate J. Truini


Guest Lecture on Agriculture as a Vehicle for Structural Transformation in Bangladesh

26 September 2016, AUR Main Campus

Syed Saifyullah speaking with Food Studies Master’s student Ren Cao

Syed Saifyullah visited the Food Studies Master’s students in their Food, Environment, and Society class on Monday, 26 September, to join their discussion about structural transformation. Mr. Saifyullah’s presentation, “Economic Development and Structural Changes in the Economy of Bangladesh”, gave the students a real-world example of the applications of structural transformation.

Bangladesh is the world’s most densely populated country, a problem which has a significant impact on Bangladeshi farmers. “Farmers must have a farm that is large enough for them to create a savings,” said Saifyullah, adding that if the farmers cannot save, they cannot grow, and ultimately cannot invest. This lack of ability for investment is one of the main factors that has kept farmers in Bangladesh from being able to work out of a life as a subsistence farmer.

Over time, attention was turned to the structural transformation of agriculture in Bangladesh, and the results were significant. Policy reform, a shift to capitalist modalities, access to technology, and education all lead to a structural change in the economy, and agriculture followed as a result. Bangladesh worked to liberalize the economy, which gave farmers the freedom to produce, liberalized the market, giving farmers the freedom to sell, and opened trade. Ultimately, per capita income increased, and poverty, undernourishment, population, unemployment, and dependence on imports all decreased.

In a world where well-intentioned organizational collaboration is often met with red tape, Bangladesh provides an encouraging example of the significance that structural transformation can have on communities, at a local level, and on a global scale. Author: Kate J. Truini

Mr. Saifyullah’s credits include acting as former FAO Senior Economist, President of the Euro-Asian Centre for Policy Studies and Management (ERUSMA) in Rome, Italy, and the Pollibir Development Organization (Pollibir Unnayan Sangstha), an NGO in Bangladesh.


Food Studies Fall Field Trip to Torino Terra Madre Salone Del Gusto

23-25 September 2016

The students in the master’s program in Food Studies traveled to Torino this fall to attend the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, an international conference hosted by the City of Torino and Slow Food which brings together policy makers, chefs, farmers, activists, students, and others from every corner of the world of food and agriculture to celebrate and engage in discussions about the future of food. The City of Torino is a leader of the Slow Food movement, and is also home to the University of Gastronomic Sciences, which makes it the perfect center for this huge and important event. In attendance were Yacouba Sawadogo, or, “the man who stopped the desert”; guerilla gardener, Ron Finley; Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agroecology at UC Berkeley; chef, restaurateur and activist, Alice Waters; and the founder of the Slow Food movement, Carlo Petrini, just to name a few. While the lectures attended by students at Terra Madre stimulated the mind, the Salone del Gusto outdoor market in Parco del Valentino stimulated the taste buds with tents representing each region of Italy, and sharing their unique food products and processes. Regional pride and the preservation of traditional practices is a key facet of the Slow Food philosophy, and students had the chance to watch pasta being made, sample freshly sliced prosciutto, and taste wine and beer from across Italy. After a weekend of lectures, workshops and tastings, the students took a bus ride through the hills of the Piedmont region to the town of Cuneo, and spent the afternoon touring the region’s largest family-owned wine estate, enjoying a winery tour and a degustation of a selection of Barolo wines. The trip came to a close in Langhe, with an elegant three course meal at La Rosa dei Vini, a small restaurant perched on top of a hill whose menu features traditional dishes from the area.  Author: Kate J. Truini. 


AUR Masters Students Learn about the Future of Fish

12 September 2016, FAO Headquarters

Students in the India Room, listening to a presentation by Marcio Castro de Souza

Students in the MA Food Studies Program ventured off campus on Monday, Sept. 12, to visit the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Located in Rome, FAO was founded in 1945 with the mission of supporting its member countries in fighting hunger, and promoting food security, with a commitment to the sustainable management of natural and genetic resources. During the visit, students spent the morning with one department whose mission it is to promote the responsible and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources, contributing to human wellbeing, food security and poverty alleviation. Four members of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department met with the twenty Food Studies graduate students in the India Room, where the group sat around a large conference table to hear presentations and hold discussions pertaining to the many facets of the fishing industry, including the management of international trade, fish and human nutrition, and the impact that climate change is having on the world’s fisheries.  


Agricultural Biodiversity

5 September 2016, 9:00am, AUR Main Campus

Presented by Danny Hunter and Richard China of Bioversity International

Senior Scientist, Danny Hunter, and Director of Strategic Partnerships and External Engagement, Richard China, engaged the students in AUR’s Food Studies Master’s Program with a presentation and discussion about the definition, implications, and preservation of agricultural biodiversity. Students spent the morning investigating the interconnectivity of every part of the food agrosystem, from the macro (the rise of monoculture) to the micro (the importance of cultivating and preserving diverse soil mycology.) Danny Hunter broke the class up into four workgroups who gathered together to answer two fundamental questions: What is agricultural biodiversity? And why is it important?  To stimulate these discussions, Richard China explained to the students the work being done at Bioversity International, and it quickly became clear that the definition of such lies somewhere within the interactions between a plethora of factors: water, pests, plant genetics, animal diversity, wild plants, fish farming, conservation of indigenous knowledge through preserving farming techniques and recipes, and the moral and ethical dilemma of allowing varieties of plants to fade into extinction, just to name a few. After discussing how essential sustainable production of food is, and how integral the ecological services provided by agroecosystems are to that production, the class turned to the question of how agricultural biodiversity can be monitored, managed, and governed. Such techniques included in situ and ex situconservation, making conscious decisions about land use, and charting trends in food growth, production, and quality. The conversation seemed to keep circling back to the environmental, human and ecological health consequences of the homogenized food systems on which modern humans have come to rely. Danny Hunter discussed how achieving sustainable food security for generations to come puts a responsibility on the consumer to, not just eat food to live, but look critically at how the way we eat has the potential to shape the future of our health, our agriculture, and our planet. Though it can be difficult coming from a field of study where there is a constant push and pull between the ideal of sustainability and the reality of big business, China posited that, “Many thoughtful people are beginning to think that we need to get that balance right.” The session came to a close with a call for action to “the next succession of thinkers and doers and policymakers”.

Danny Hunter is the Global Project Coordinator of the global GEF/UNEP/FAO Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project for Bioversity International which includes Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Before joining Bioversity International he led two international projects: Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (DSAP) Project and the Taro Genetic Resources: Conservation and Utilisation (TaroGen) Project, both implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. He has taught at the University of the South Pacific (USP) and currently holds the post of adjunct teaching posts at Charles Sturt University (CSU), Australia and the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), Ireland where he contributes to courses in Plant Genetic Resources, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. He is also Agrobiodiversity Research Theme Leader for the Plant and AgroBiosciences Centre (PABC) at NUIG and Series Editor (with Michael Halewood) of Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity, a series of books published by Earthscan from Routledge in association with Bioversity International.

Richard China joined Bioversity in March 2014, where he is responsible for expanding the role that Bioversity’s communications, partnerships and global initiatives play in enhancing the impact of the organization’s research. His career started in 1977 with United Kingdom Overseas Development Administration as a Technical Cooperation Officer in the Solomon Islands and Liberia, where he worked until 1981. From 1981 to 1991 he undertook short- and long-term assignments in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America designing and providing implementation support in organization and management of agricultural and rural development projects funded by International Financing Institutions (IFls), the private sector and UN. In 1992 he joined the The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Investment Division and led agricultural investment preparation and review missions, mainly in Africa and Asia, for the World Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). In 2002 he took up the position of Chief of the Rehabilitation and Humanitarian policies in FAO Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division. In 2008 he was promoted to Director of FAO Policy Assistance and Programme Development Division. In 2012 he was appointed Director of FAO Liaison Office with the European Union and Belgium.


McGovern Lecture Visit – Meeting with Dr Rajiv Shah

Following the invitation by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, a group of Food Studies MA and undergraduate students attended the McGovern Lecture at FAO on Tuesday 16th November. The lecture is held every year to honor the legacy of the late George McGovern, a former US ambassador to the UN agencies in Rome and a tireless campaigner in the fight against world hunger. The lecture is organised by the UN Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, in collaboration with FAO. This year the speaker was Dr Rajiv Shah who currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and was formerly the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). During his five years in office at USAID, Dr Shah oversaw humanitarian responses to a number of major crises including the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the 2011 drought in East Africa and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

In the lecture, Dr Shah sketched out ‘a roadmap to end hunger as we know it’, emphasizing the input of technology in providing real-time, actionable data, the role of purposeful private investment and the importance of political will and commitment to change. The speaker also kindly agreed to meet with AUR students after the lecture, where they were able to ask in-depth questions relating to the Food Studies course. Topics such as food waste, the Syrian refugee crisis, new approaches to food aid and the environmental impacts of development were discussed and developed. Both Dr Shah and the US Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome, David Lane provided insightful answers to student’s questions and gave the group plenty of material to consider.


Agro-biodiversity and sustainability:  Policies and incentives for the private sector

10 November 2015, 18.30 in the AUR Auditorium (Via Pietro Roselli 6)

Presented by Ann Tutwiler, Director General of Bioversity International

The trends in the loss of agricultural biodiversity and narrowing of food chains are a threat to human health and the sustainability of food systems and life on earth. The reduction in species and genetic diversity in global food systems is of increasing concern. Over 7,000 crops have been used for human food since the origin of agriculture. Of those only 12 crops and 5 animal species now provide 75% of the world’s food. Shrinking agricultural biodiversity is reducing our options to combat malnutrition, adapt to climate change, control pests and diseases and reverse loss of ecosystem services such as pollination and prevention of erosion.  Ann Tutwiler will discuss why this is happening and address questions such as: Can private businesses respond to address the health and environmental consequences of their activities and of their impact on food and ecosystems? Which are the policies and incentives to make businesses responsive to the need to maintain and improve agro-biodiversity in the world?

M. Ann Tutwiler is the Director General of Bioversity International, an international research for development organization that is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. She has almost 30 years of experience in agricultural policy and development working in the public and private sectors. Tutwiler served as Deputy Director General, Knowledge, at FAO from January 2011 through November 2012, where she coordinated the development of cohesive Rome food agency positions on Rio+20 for FAO, with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and Bioversity International. From June 2009 to January 2011, she worked for the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), leading and coordinating USDA’s participation in the President’s ‘Feed the Future’ initiative and developing USDA’s international research strategy. Previously, she served as Senior Advisor of International Affairs for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She created and managed the agricultural markets program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation from 2006 to 2009. Tutwiler was Government Relations Director for a multinational agribusiness firm for ten years and co-founded a global think tank in agricultural trade policy. Tutwiler holds a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College, where she received the John W. Kuykendall Award for Community Service in 2005. She holds certificates in Agribusiness from Purdue University and INSEAD.

This event is brought to you by AUR’s Business Program in association with the AUR Graduate School and the Harvard Club of Italy.


How to End Hunger in Times of Crisis

11 November 2015

Presented by Andrew MacMillan

Andrew Macmillan will lead a discussion based on his book: How to end hunger in Times of Crisis: “Of the World’s 7 billion people, more than half eat badly. Almost 1 billion are constantly short of food, at least 2 billion suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and 1.5 billion are overweight or obese. The burden of ill health and the loss of human potential caused by each of these forms of malnutrition are vast. Almost one third of the food that farmers produce is wasted, much of it being thrown away by consumers in the “west”. Those that most need food are the ones that can’t afford it. These three facts suggest that the global food system is in a big mess. We claim that one of the main reasons why so many people are hungry is because almost everyone has come to believe that it is very difficult to get rid of hunger. In fact, it is one of the simplest things we can do together to make the world a better home for all its people. We suggest how to turn this dream into an affordable reality.”

Andrew MacMillan is an agricultural economist who specializes in tropical agriculture. Before retirement he worked as Director of FAO’s Field Operations Division. He graduated from Cambridge University with his MA in Agriculture, finally receiving his PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of the West Indies. Andrew spends his retirement raising money for Got Matar Community Development Group’s education programmes in Kenya and publishing books on ways to end hunger.


Food Studies Research Methods – Historical Research

28 October 2015

Presented by Diana Garvin 

Food provides concrete evidence for abstract ideas.  For this reason, Food Studies practitioners often say that they use “food as a lens” in their research.  This interactive lecture will provide students  with a toolkit of Food Studies techniques that you they can  apply to historical research.   Discussions will  be held on  how to prepare for research trips (archive selection and approach) and how to interpret archival materials (reading against the grain, material culture analysis).  Looking ahead to the students’  future projects,  discussions will also take place on  how to find funding and how to place writing in academic and industry journals.  This talk will acquaint students with Food Studies methods for studying the history of women, the working class, and ethnic and racial minorities, a set of research skills that will ultimately prepare them to investigate the history of those who did not write it.


Diana Garvin is a Ph.D. candidate in Italian Studies at Cornell University. Prior to her graduate work at Cornell, she taught at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Associazione Italo-Americana in Bologna, Italy, and at the Université François Rabelais in Tours, France.  In 2006, she received her A.B. in Romance Studies (Italian, French, Spanish) from Harvard University.  Food Studies, Gender Studies, and Critical Race Studies collectively inform her work.  Following these themes, Ms Garvin’s dissertation “Feeding Fascism: Tabletop Politics in Italy and Italian East Africa, 1922-1945” analyses food as the physical evidence of power negotiations between individual women and the State in Italy and in former Italian East Africa (modern-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia).  Oxford’s Cherwell Studentship (2013) and Cornell Institute for European Studies’ Michele Sicca Grant (2010) supported her archival visits to a number of institutions, including the Wolfsonian-FIU and the Wolfsoniana, the Archivio Diaristico Nazionale, the Biblioteca Gastronomica, the Archivio Barilla, and the Archivio Centrale dello Stato. Trips to 25 additional museums, libraries, and archives also contributed to her dissertation research.  Ms Garvin’s project has been awarded the AAUW American Fellowship (2015), the Julia Child Foundation Scholarship (2014) and the AFS Sue Samuelson Award for Foodways Scholarship (2013).

Thanks to the support of the CLIR Mellon Fellowship, she will spend the 2015-2016 academic year working in Italy. During this time she is available to mentor students at the American University of Rome, and to discuss issues ranging from how to select a graduate program of study to where to find the best supplì in Trastevere.  Please contact Ms Garvin via her website at, or via email at


Democratise Food! Social movements, governmentality, and the rise of food policy councils – Colin Sage – School of the Human Environment, University College Cork

October 5 2015 – 6:30 pm – Auditorium

With a history of more than 30 years in North America, food policy councils are an altogether more recent development in Europe – but one which is spreading and capturing the public imagination. Their rise reflects the multiple concerns that are growing across civil society and public health agencies regarding the operation and consequences of the industrial agri-food system. Long proclaimed for its capacity to deliver unprecedented choice and volume of food at ever lower prices, there is growing realisation that this system is also responsible for a deterioration in public health (rising rates of overweight and obesity are associated with a range of non-communicable diseases), as well as contributing significantly to environmental degradation (water depletion and contamination, habitat destruction, climate change).

While Europe has long been differentiated by its food cultures, there has been a common upsurge of interest in highlighting the shortcomings of a corporate-led model driven by its pursuit of profit at the cost of our collective well-being. Food social movements are taking a variety of forms but share a common interest in recovering civic engagement with our universal source of nutrition. While this embraces all sorts of new initiatives, one of the potentially more significant is the creation of city-region food policy councils.

This talk will combine both general remarks drawn from ongoing research around the new food social movements as well as draw upon direct personal engagement with the Cork Food Policy Council which has been in existence for two years.

Dr Colin Sage has worked on the interconnections of food, agriculture and environment throughout his academic career. After a sojourn in the Himalayas, he undertook his PhD on changes in highland agriculture in Bolivia (University of Durham 1990). Colin has conducted research in Mexico and Indonesia and undertaken contracts to evaluate projects in Ethiopia, Pakistan and Central America. More recently he has worked with artisan producers in Ireland documenting the development of alternative food networks as well as working with urban community food initiatives. He was pivotal in the formation of the Cork Food Policy Council which he now chairs. Colin is the author of Environment and Food (Routledge, 2012) and co-editor of Food Transgressions: Making sense of contemporary food politics (Ashgate 2014).



Furthering sustainable food systems

5 October 2015

Presented by Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Senior Officer for Environment and Sustainable Development at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Senior Officer for Environment and Sustainable Development at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will give a lecture to the AUR Food Studies graduate students on the 5th of October 2015. She will discuss the environmental externalities of unsustainable agriculture practices, such as soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and fresh water resources and climate change. Ms. El-Hage Scialabba examines whether market prices reflect the cost of food production in terms of social and environmental damage, and the necessity for a global shift toward sustainable development.  She is optimistic about the future of sustainable food systems  and will open up discussions about how these can be furthered.

Nadia El-Hage Scialabba is the Senior Natural Resources Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). As the first trained ecologist at the organization, she organized the first FAO Conference on Environment and Agriculture in 1991, which resulted in the inclusion of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development into the Earth Summit agenda. Throughout her carrier, Ms. El-Hage Scialabba has worked at the interface between environmental, social and economic challenges of food systems and advised member countries on the integration of environmental considerations into agricultural policy and planning. Since 1999, Ms. El-Hage Scialabba has led FAO’s program on organic agriculture, including normative work, policy advice and technical support to member countries. She is currently leading post-Rio+20 projects on Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) and Full-Cost Accounting.


From sustainable consumption to sustainable production: local food systems for good nutrition? Dr. Florence Egal

The presentation will start by reminding students of present nutrition-related challenges in the world and introduce the concept of sustainable diets as a means to revisit food systems for increased sustainability. It will provide examples of ongoing initiatives in Northern America and Europe. The author will replace briefly the discussion within the MilanExpo and SDG debates and link it to relevant outcomes of the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition. Overall the presentation will emphasize the importance of local approaches to ensure sustainable food security, the need to engage all actors in the food system, seek coherence with national and global policies and regulations, and strengthen horizontal networking for knowledge management.


Agro-Industries of the World: Their Impact on Food Security

Dr. Jorge M. Fonseca, UN FAO Agro-Industry Officer, will give a lecture on Wednesday, 3 June 2015 on the topic of  the impact of Agro-Industries on Food Security. The presentation will review the most important contributions of global agro-industries to the development of modern -rural and urban- societies. First, a general background of the scope of agro-industry operations and their interconnection with other production areas will be given. The reason for Agro-Industry existence and the way agro-industries have adapted to changing demands/needs are discussed. Clear benefits of how the industry has contributed to reduce hunger across the world will be highlighted, while the analysis will also introduce aspects in which agro-industries have arguably gone too far and how the main –public or private- influencers of the industry have shaped to “unknown” degrees the way consumers behave. Finally, the relevant areas of work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations will be highlighted, including the challenges ahead, particularly in providing advice for decision makers.


From Food versus Fuel towards Food and Fuel : What is not True, What is True and What is Needed

Mr Olivier Dubois, Senior Natural Resources Officer & Leader Energy Programme  Climate, Energy and Tenure Division (NRC) of FAO will give a lecture on Monday, 22 June 2015 at 10 a.m . on ‘From Food versus Fuel towards Food and Fuel : What is not True, What is True and What is Needed”.

The lecture will present a brief presentation of the current situation and prospects regarding biofuel’s markets (first and second generation biofuels) and will help you understand the current definition of biofuels, including biomass, biofuels and bioenergy, sources of bioenergy/biofuels, and types of biofuels.
The future needs research will essentially deal with FAO’s “Sustainable Bioenergy Decision Support Package” and the field applications related to it.


Spring 2015   Italian Studies Program Lecture Series

Food and Religious Identity in Rome

Documentary Screening


“Roman Kosher is a surprising culinary journey through the old, rich and textured history and tradition of Jewish Rome”

April 21, 2015 at 12:15 PM  in the AUR Auditorium

Filmmaker & AUR Prof.  Tony Villani and Chef Giovanni Terracina presented the film screening.


Governance and policies for food security

Günther Feiler gave a lecture on Thursday 19 June 2014 at 10 a.m. in Room B106 on multilevel governance and policies for food security as part of the course on ‘Food, Environment and Society’. In 2008 the era of cheap food and stable food prices abruptly ended. Food prices reached a first peak in 30 years in mid-2008, followed by a second peak in February 2011. Fundamental changes on the demand and supply side in the past have pushed prices up and will continue in the future to keep prices at higher levels.

By 2050 world agriculture has to feed 9 billion people and to produce between 70% to 100% more food with limited land and water resources in a changing climate. Solutions can no longer be sought by individual governments at national level. Food security is a global issue related to natural resource management, global trade, many different stakeholders at different levels and increasingly conflicting interests to be mediated.

As the risk of future price volatility persists, with negative implications on food security and on natural resources, particularly on land and water, food security and agriculture has moved up on the political agenda both at global and national level with many stakeholders involved. In this session we will discuss the efforts undertaken at global, regional and national level and the role that FAO is playing together with other partners to prepare the agriculture sector to deliver both, public goods and services as well as enough to eat.


Public Goods and Multifunctional Agriculture in Italy

Dr. Francesco Vanni gave a lecture on ‘Public Goods and Multifunctional Agriculture in Italy’ on Wednesday 18 June 2014 at 10:30 a.m. in Room B106 as part of the course on ‘Food, Environment and Society’.
In this lecture the relations between farming and public goods will be explored, with a focus on the different aspects of the countryside that European citizens value most and which they expect in rural areas, such as farmland biodiversity, beautiful landscapes, high quality air, soil conservation and water quality.
The lecture will describe the main forms of policy intervention that, in the framework of the Common Agriculture Policy, have been adopted to increase the provision of public goods through EU agriculture. After showing the main limitations of these policies, Dr. Francesco Vanni will describe some innovative solutions that have been recently developed in Italy by showing their potential in achieving the public goods objective in a more effective and efficient way.
These solutions, based on collaboration and collective action, may represent an important shift in the EU agricultural policies, which need to be re-oriented towards the support to sustainable forms of agriculture without reducing the competitiveness and the market assets of local farming systems.


The European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). An overview with a focus on the Leader approach

Dr. Stefano Grando gave a lecture on ‘The European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). An overview with a focus on the Leader approach’ on Wednesday 18 June 2014 at 9:45 a.m. in Room B106 as part of the course on ‘Food, Environment and Society’.
The first part of the seminar explores the aim, development and most relevant current aspects of the CAP. The CAP has been at the core of EC and then EU policies for decades, absorbing a large share of EU budget . Its evolution will be summarized in the context of the more general evolution of the EU from its foundation.
This historical excursus will underline some peculiarities of the EU as a union of states which preserve most of their national independence while engaging in a progressive yet contested political unification process. The CAP, now articulated into its two “pillars” (market and income support; rural development), reflects these contradictions, as well as other tensions between a food security-based productivist approach and a more recent focus on sustainable territorial development based on the multifunctional role of agriculture and rural areas.
The last part of the seminar will focus the CAP second pillar based on the implementation of Rural development programs at regional level, and will describe in more detail the Leader initiative, an interesting case of bottom-up approach to rural development that will be investigated with regard to the specific case of Tuscany, one of the Italian regions with a more pro-active and successful approach to rural development.



Food Security, Sustainability and Agricultural Biotechnologies

Mr. Andrea Sonnino gave a lecture on “Food security, sustainability and agricultural biotechnologies” on Monday, 16 June at 10 a.m. in Room B304.

Currently, more than enough food is produced to feed the world’s population of 7 billion inhabitants. However, latest FAO figures indicate that 842 million people were undernourished in 2011-13, representing almost 15% of the population in developing countries. About 2 billion people suffer from the negative consequences of micronutrient deficiencies. Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. There are four dimensions of food security: the availability of food; access to food; utilization of food; and food system stability.

Looking to the future, there are also major challenges ahead from the rapidly changing socio-economic environment (increasing world population and urbanization, and dietary changes), climate change and erosion of natural resources. The food demand in 2050 is projected to increase by 60%. Sustainable increase of productivity, largely based on the adoption of technological and organizational innovation in agriculture, is therefore key to achieving food security. Increased productivity should be achieved while simultaneously conserving the natural resource base upon which future productivity increases depend. It is widely held that agricultural innovation, encompassing the use of new processes, products and technologies, can play a key role in helping developing countries to face these future challenges. Research systems have to try to provide solutions to these major complex long-term problems, including how best to achieve ‘sustainable intensification’, whereby food production is increased in an environmentally sustainable way from existing farmlands.

Agricultural biotechnology represents a broad range of innovations whose potential role in this context has often been highlighted. Biotechnologies are used in food and agriculture for the genetic improvement of plant varieties and animal populations, characterisation and conservation of genetic resources, diagnosis of plant or animal diseases and other purposes. Discussions about agricultural biotechnology have been dominated by the continuing controversy surrounding genetic modification and its resulting products, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The polarised debate has led to non-GMO biotechnologies being overshadowed, often hindering their development and application.

The presentation will discuss the possible contribution of biotechnologies, including genetic modification, to the achievement of food security and to the transition to more sustainable agricultural production systems.


Sensory Appreciation of Food : Science and Culture

Dr. Barbara Burlingame will give a special lecture on ‘Sensory Appreciation of Food: Science and Culture’ on Thursday 5 June 2014 at 9 a.m. as part of the course on ‘Food, Environment and Society’.

In this lecture the many facets of food appreciation will be explored, generally and with specific application to Italian/Mediterranean culture. The sciences of sensory physiology and sensory evaluation will be reviewed. Through a series of exercises, the students’ sensory abilities of olfaction and taste will be tested using samples of common odors and solutions of the five primary tastes at threshold concentrations. Organoleptic characteristics will be the main focus, but attention will also be given to cultural, geographical, nutritional, technological, agricultural, and regulatory aspects.  The key emphasis will be the link between physical senses and intellect, best summarized in the quote by the famous French enologist, Peynaud: “To be appreciated, wine (food too) demands attention and contemplation; the appeal of tasting is enhanced if one can analyse it. Countless pleasures are wasted through ignorance and want of skill and attention”.


The US Government’s Role within the United Nations’ Food Agencies in Rome

On 30 September 2013, Ambassador David J. Lane,  the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome, gave a lecture to AUR students on the work of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome.  Ambassador Lane was nominated by President Obama in 2012.   Prior to this appointment, Mr Lane was  Assistant to the President of the United States and Counselor to the Chief of Staff in the White House.  Mr Lane has more than twenty years of experience working in leadership positions across sectors.  He has spent a good part of his career in non-profit service, and from 2001 until 2011 helped develop and promote public policies focused on enabling people around the world to lift themselves out of poverty.



Business Department Lecture on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Networks

U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission Executive Director Dr. Maria Grazia Quieti visited with AUR students recently to discuss her research into Agriculture and Sustainable Food Networks in the US and in Europe.  The presentation was part of the Spring semester Business Studies Lecture Series, and was co hosted by the Harvard Club of Italy. Dr. Quieti discussed the similarities and differences of how agriculture is perceived in the US and in the EU,  specifically in Italy, and how traditional views, economic practice and government policy are shaped by varying cultural filters.  She also noted the vital importance the government plays  in assuring food security.

As an example of the European/Italian view of food and the agricultural sector as more than a market-driven source of economic returns, Dr. Quieti introduced the students to The Slow Food Movement, founded in 1986 by Carlo Petrini, in the wake of the opening of the first McDonald’s in Italy, in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna. The goals of the movement are to defend biodiversity, educate individuals about food, and also create a community sharing common values. Mr. Petrini, has overseen the expansion of the Movement into a worldwide his grassroots organization in the decades since.

Dr. Quieti closed her lecture by stressing the importance for students to take advantage of food markets, know where the food they buy comes from, support local agriculture wherever they are, and to eat foods in season, as it promotes a healthy lifestyle. On the business side of the coin, it is important for food to be sustainable with nature and fair in an economic sense.