Four Master programs in Food Culture and Communications will be offered in 2014. Each is a separate and complete Master program with a specific thematic stream. The different streams of the Master share a common core of coursework, complemented by specialized material unique to that stream. Each, however, is designed for international students seeking an innovative approach to the study of food and foodways and the ways in which they are discussed and represented today.

The program offers a wide mix of in-class lessons, exercises, guided tastings, projects, and study trips in Italy and abroad to provide a multi-experiential understanding of both high-quality artisanal and industrial food products, their ecology, agronomy, technology, history, anthropology, sociology, as well as the necessary knowledge and expertise for communicating them.

Instructors include internationally recognized scholars, journalists, and gastronomy experts, including: Carole Counihan, Barny Haughton, Corby Kummer, Stuart Franklin, Anne Noble, Carlo Petrini, and others.

Through an approach that merges anthropology, history, ecology, food policy, agronomy, economics, food and sensory sciences, tasting sessions, communications, and a wide range of other subjects, students acquire the tools for developing new conceptualisations, communications, and educational strategies within the realm of high-quality gastronomy. Graduates emerge ready for careers in community-based project management, education, marketing and public relations.

In addition to this breadth of study, each stream of the master also includes a distinct academic focus, falling into the following themes. Note that the four streams of the program each have different start dates.

Each stream of master comprises 90 university credits and leads to a 1st level Master degree. The language of instruction is English. The program lasts 12 months and a minimum of 80% attendance is required.

A 6-to-8-weeks long internship concludes the master, with each student working within a company or organization in Italy or abroad, or within a UNISG research project. Internships focus on sustainable food production or communication and are the basis for a final thesis presented to an academic committee.

Over the course of the year, master program staff assist students in researching and identifying internships and hosts suited to their individual interests. While some internship hosts may occasionally provide room and board, students are responsible for all expenses related to their internships.

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Final Thesis
The final thesis is the culmination of the master program and offers the student the opportunity to synthesize both theoretical and practical coursework, including the internship. The thesis, including methodologies and a report on the internship work, is completed individually and is evaluated by an academic committee.

Master in Food Culture and Communications: Food, Place, and Identity
Start Date: March 19, 2014 (A.Y. 2013-14)

Food and food cultures can only be efficiently communicated with reference to place and identity. Whether we talk about urban food systems, zero mile food, traditional local productions, ethnic food, Japanese cuisine, or French wines we are always making reference to the relationship between food and place, and the meanings this bond inflates into food as well as places. As the notion of terroir so effectively conveys, it is the convergence of place, climate, local human knowledge and sensibilities that determines the quality of foods. This section explores the relationships between food, place, and identity from the perspective of food policy, geography, tourism, history and memory, and cultural artifacts that range from film to literature.

Coursework includes an examination of the complexities of food systems and policies, from the local to the global, and a focus on Italian history and culture as relevant to illuminate the socially-constructed bond between food and place.

The didactic Director of the Master in Food Culture and Communications: Food, Place and Identity is Professor Simone Cinotto and the faculty of the Master’s program includes some university professors, experts in the field, such as: Annie Hauck-Lawson, Tim Lang, Peter Scholliers and others

Master in Food Culture and Communications: Human Ecology and Sustainability
Start Date: May 28, 2014 (A.Y. 2013-14)

The Master in Food Culture and Communications: Human Ecology and Sustainability will address the importance of social, economic, and environmental sustainability in food production and consumption networks, and especially the relevance of traditional knowledge in understanding small-scale sustainable production of high-quality local food and bio-cultural diversities and heritage as well.

The human ecology area of the programme will focus on environmental studies, ethnobiology, and human ecology.

This area will analyse in particular how knowledge, beliefs and practises related to the natural environment and cuisines are embedded in the social systems and how this inextricable links are crucial for implementing a community-based and sustainable management of local resources as well as fostering good practices of production and consumption of organic local foods.

The Master will address also the role of women in local food systems, the dynamic nature of local ecological knowledge, ethnobotany, agro-ecology, organic agriculture, migrants’ food systems, and the relevance of all these in modern public health and nutritional policies.

The scientific Director of the Master in Food Culture and Communications: Human Ecology and Sustainability is Professor Andrea Pieroni and the faculty of the Master’s program includes some university professors, experts in the field, such as Lisa Price, Justin Nolan, Paul Sillitoe and others.

Master in Food Culture and Communications: High-Quality Products
Start Date: September 17, 2014 (A.Y. 2014-15)

The Master in Food Culture and Communications: High-Quality Products is characterized by an in-depth exploration of themes related to products that characterize gastronomy as well as artisanal foods of excellence. With these products as its focus, the Master provides an ongoing comparison with agro-industrial foods to grasp their characteristics and differences. The products examined during the course will include beverages such as spirits, wines, and beers, and foods such as cheeses, meats, pasta and rice, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt and spices, chocolate, coffee, and tea. High-quality products often have a non-tangible value, are purchased for what they represent, and have roles as status symbols. Many of them, if not all, are profoundly linked to a specific region with which they are closely identified. The objective of this Master is also to understand the cultural appeal of the products, and what constitutes the link between the product and the region. This approach necessitates a change of perspective, that is, starting not from the “region,” but rather from the taste of the product, which will be analyzed, understood, and described, and then working backwards to figure out which factors have created this “taste”: the methods of production, the raw materials, and the “place” and history that led to the product’s origin will also be examined.

Master in Food Culture and Communications: Representation, Meaning, and Media
Start Date: November 19, 2014 (A.Y. 2014-15)

Food is both a construct and a representation of our culture. Like language, it gives form to meaning, yet it also can alter our sense of the real and elicit new notions of “truth.” In order to effectively portray stories about food and food culture, we must not only integrate diverse perspectives from multiple professions and disciplines, we must also be able understand the ways in which knowledge is both formed and represented. The media—encompassing all modes of representation—literally mediate what we understand to be true, and so studying those forms is as important as learning how to create the content of the stories that are put forward.

While trends and fashions abound in commercial communications channels, the voices of academics, critics, and bloggers can also be subject to such influences. In the realm of gastronomy, social uncertainty and food insecurity are compounded with the divergent needs and pathways of agriculture, distributors, and consumers, all leading to unforeseen challenges and complexity in bringing to light a given story. Communications work holds an enormous responsibility in gastronomy, and requires a subtle and attentive approach to both medium and message.

This stream of the master is intended to build innovative and integrated communications skills, and contribute to improving the quality of food culture overall. Grounded in an ecosystem theory of communication, the program will immerse students in the issues facing professionals today, bringing together the roles of the journalist, theoretician, educator, marketer, and gastronome.