Food Studies
Policies for sustainable production and consumption


Introduction

The goal of this 15-month, U.S. accredited master’s degree program in Food Studies is to provide students with specialized knowledge and practical skills relating to the food system at all levels – from the local to the global – through a cross-disciplinary and international lens.
 
The program hones students’ critical thinking and independent research capabilities while cultivating the expertise and transferable skills necessary for the graduate student to pursue a profession in the field or continue to further study.

Overview

The AUR Master of Arts in Food Studies examines the connections between the production, distribution, and consumption of food, focusing on sustainability criteria. This is a cross-disciplinary program exploring the current situation and developments in sustainable food production and consumption.
 
Focus is given to investigating how we affect the Earth’s resources with our food choices and how policies and frameworks are formed and implemented at regional, national and sub-national levels by the public sector, business organizations, not-for-profit organizations, and the food industry.

Why this Food Studies program and why in Rome?

The M.A. Food Studies at The American University of Rome has been recognized by both academics and industry employers as a unique program delivered in an extraordinary setting. 

While this M.A. is fully accredited in the United States, the campus and the program are firmly rooted in Rome, Italy - a location widely viewed as the heart of food policy and sustainability developments.

Rome serves as the headquarters of the United Nations agencies dealing with food security and sustainable development: FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization), IFAD (the International Fund for Agricultural Development), WFP (the World Food Programme), and Bioversity International (a global research-for-development organization) are all based in the city. AUR’s close ties with these institutions means that the topics studied on campus are frequently complemented by on-site visits and contacts with professionals whereby students can see the theory behind their specialization put into action. 

It is not only the location of this program that sets it apart from other graduate programs in this field of study. Innovative program structure and content, tuition tailored to the individual student, expert faculty, visiting scholars, and a diverse, international student body combine to form a learning experience you will not find elsewhere. Students learn to master innovative approaches to Food Studies in an educational experience that goes far beyond classroom learning.

Through this program, prospective students will experience:

  • A social science curriculum focused on the food and agriculture system, its sustainability, ethics, governance, and policies
     
  • Experiential learning through contacts with professionals with a wealth of international experience and active engagement with Italy’s vibrant food/farming community and its rich food culture and agriculture
     
  • Courses that recognize the value of practical skills and offer opportunities to combine theoretical learning with hands-on experience
     
  • Appreciation of the worldwide societal concerns regarding the choices facing humankind in relation to feeding an increasing world population, including the pressures exercised on natural resources and the world’s biodiversity, public health and the spread of obesity, the persistence of under-nutrition and the impact of climate change
     
  • Understanding of the interdependence of nations in terms of food production and consumption and the ways in which governments, the business industry, and civil society are dealing with these issues through policies, programs and regulatory frameworks.

 
Upon completing the program, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a high level of knowledge of the contemporary food system, the main factors impinging on sustainable food systems, production and distribution, and consumption at the global level and relate them to individual countries’ situations
     
  • Evaluate the nexus between food production, food consumption, and the environment
     
  • Assess critically nutrition from public health and environmental perspectives
     
  • Analyze the main policies and regulatory frameworks related to food and their implementation at international and national levels
     
  • Examine and compare the main tenets of food-induced rural development policies and programs in both developed and developing countries, with particular reference to Italy within the European context
     
  • Appraise the macroeconomic environment and government policies impinging on the sustainability of food production and consumption
     
  • Perform financial analyses, budget, and forecasting in the food sector
     
  • Write professionally about food across different media. 

 
Beyond course-specific skills and knowledge, students will acquire academic and transferable skills including:

  • Conduct research by framing a research question, identifying and applying the appropriate quantitative or qualitative methods
     
  • Analyze and present basic statistical data in a clear and effective way
     
  • Communicate persuasively both orally and in writing, in different contexts and situations, including research paper writing and thesis defense.

 

Internships

An internship with a food-environment organization can be considered as part of the M.A. program and carries a value of up to three credits. Students are actively encouraged to undertake an internship (offered as an elective choice), as upon completion of graduate study, work experience is invaluable in aiding students’ pursuit of their career goals. A large proportion of our alumni of this program have completed work experience placements with diverse organizations that reflect their career or research ambitions and specializations – you can see a range of those experiences here.  
A three-credit internship requires up to 150 hours of practical work experience, a journal with the daily activities detailed as well as reflections on the internship as a learning experience and a presentation and written paper at the end of the work experience period.

After graduating from the program

Alumni of the MA in Food Studies have followed varied career and research paths. Some recent examples include:

  • Senior policy advisor in the EU and International Trade Directorate at the UK Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
     
  • Livelihoods Specialist and Head of Mission for Syria and Duhok
     
  • Regional Coordinator for Northern Iraq at Mercy Hands for Humanitarian Aid
     
  • SNAP-Ed Program Associate with Rutgers Cooperative Extension
     
  • Food writer and interviewer for ELLE Magazine
     
  • FAO, Investment Centre Division, rural investment consultant
     
  • Sustainable Development Director at a community-supported farm in New York
     
  • Researcher with Bioversity International
     
  • USAID Office of Food for Peace, Administrative Assistant
     
  • Adjunct instructor of Food Studies for undergraduate study-abroad programs