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Community Engagement: “Working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.” (Excerpted from Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich, published by Oryx Press, 2000, Preface, page vi.)

Community Engagement is an integral part of our academic programs (fall, spring, summer and internship programs). We believe that interacting with the local community adds value to the study abroad experience, allowing students to put theory into practice and to expand their communication skills. It teaches them how to work in a ‘cross-cultural’ environment with people from diverse cultures, varying educations, different skills and backgrounds.

Gustolab International Food Systems and Sustainability provides a combination of study with several levels of community engagement and volunteering opportunities related to the student’s future career goals. If you are interested in learning more, please write to us at

A few examples of how our students are involved in the community in Rome, Italy through GLi. 

GLi Summer Program students in the “Nutrition and Culture” course had the opportunity to partake in the Cerealia festival, conducting research and surveys on lifestyle and the consumption of grains in Italy and abroad.

Students in the GLi “Food Media, Communication and Trends” course worked as video reporters, filming and interviewing participants. They produced two final products: a commercial that the festival still uses worldwide today to showcase their event and a nine minute short documentary that shows the role of Cerealia and the “sagra” festival at large as a means to promote and preserve traditions.

Student perspectives:

alex-lamonte-n“Thanks to GLi, while I was studying in Rome in Fall 2015, I had two incredible opportunities to explore issues related to food waste and access in Italy. First, I was able to attend a panel presentation sponsored by Banco Alimentare, the national food bank. The event introduced a new app, BeeApp, that aims minimize food waste by improving communication between food stores and their local food bank. I was so fortunate to have Margherita accompany me to translate what was said! The next opportunity I had was to visit SIAF, a catering company in Bagno a Ripoli, a town outside of Florence, that is affiliated with the school next door to it. SIAF educates children about nutrition and engages them in making healthy meals so they and their families can make healthier food choices. SIAF also prepares and sells healthy dinners to parents who do not have the time or resources to make these meals themselves. The director, Antonio Ciappi, talked to me about this work that SIAF does and their larger mission, and he gave me a tour of the facilities. GLi arranged the entire visit; I couldn’t have done it without them! These opportunities I had to explore food access in Italy contribute to ongoing food justice research and work that I am doing in the United States. I’m very fortunate to have seized the chance to take my research international. Thanks, GLi!” Alex Lamonte, Hobart and William Smith Colleges