Sicily (Spring)Week-Long Study Tour | Sustainability Program

Situated right in the heart of the Mediterranean, the Italian island of Sicily has a long history rich with cultural and food traditions. Today though, that tradition is threatened. In contrast to northern Europe, southern Europe is experiencing damaged traditional crops due to climate change. Unable to continue producing foods that have grown there for centuries, Sicilian food producers have been forced to innovate their growing methods or to shift production to more tropical produce such as mangos and avocados. On this tour, you will travel to the largest island of the Mediterranean to see for yourself how this new generation of Sicilian cultivators are adapting to a new environment and how these changes are affecting local crops and food culture.

Throughout the tour, you will investigate the challenges of food agriculture in a time of climate change and draw comparisons between issues faced in northern and southern Europe. You will visit both large-scale agricultural sites producing fruits and vegetables for the global food system as well as small-scale farms with a focus on regeneration and sustainability. Both productions face the challenges of water scarcity and increasing temperatures, but tackle it with different methods. Elsewhere on the island, you will learn about the unique geography that comprises the volcanic history of Sicily, engage in the debate over natural wines vs. wines grown in the traditional manner, and investigate social and cultural issues that arise from farming and migration. Throughout your journey, you will consistently revisit the notion of what is authentic and traditional food in the Sicilian region and what it means for that to change.

Tour Objectives

  • Compare and contrast sustainability approaches in Northern and Southern Europe.
  • Improve understanding of environmental challenges in agriculture
  • Gain a deeper insight in the dilemmas about loss of biodiversity due to climate change
  • Improve understanding of social and cultural challenges in agriculture in southern Europe and the competing narratives about how to navigate the food crisis

Possible Activities

  • Visit a vineyard or farm that has shifted from growing traditional to more tropical crops
  • Speak with natural winemakers to understand their perspective on winemaking and the natural wine debate
  • Hike along the Hyblaean Plateau to visit Sicily's volcanic geography