BHSU students explore economic systems, history and geography in Italy during Spring Break

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, March 9, 2017/Categories: 2017

A group of 11 Black Hills State University students are using food as a lens to study the economic systems, history and geography of Italy on a faculty-led academic experience this week. The students are enrolled in the History and Geography of Food course at BHSU. Photo credit: Aris Karagiorgakis

Black Hills State University students visit with a balsamic vinegar producer in Italy during Spring Break. Photo credit: Carrie Gray-Wood.

Black Hills State University students are using food as a lens to study the economic systems, history and geography of other countries.

Students enrolled in the History and Geography of Food course at BHSU are tasting and traveling their way through Italy while on Spring Break this week.

Carrie Gray-Wood, instructor of geography, and Kelly Kirk, instructor of history, said the students have prepared extensively for the experience by reading about the history of Italy, gender studies, and the Italian market.

Learning activities include: A historical walking tour, cooking class, food tour of Florence with a visit to the fresh produce market, cultural lecture, vinegary tour, and visits to the Museums of Prosciutto and Parmigiano.

Each student chose a specific area of research to study further while in Italy. Gray-Wood said topics include food in the Renaissance and the influence of Muslim culture on Italian cuisine.

Haylee Strouf, English education major from Miles City, Mont., is researching how the Mafia impacts the olive oil industry in Italy.

"We'll visit an olive grove and I want to see the process of making olive oil and understand the negative effects of diluting the oil has on the growers," said Strous.

Gray-Wood said the students are also studying how people's migratory patterns impact diets, including the impacts of the recent settlement of Syrian refugees in Italy.

The group of 11 students are accompanied by BHSU faculty while in Italy. Gray-Wood says the course includes Honors students and students from a broad base of majors including economics, English, chemistry, and history.

The public is invited to a formal presentation of the students' academic projects and experiences in Italy Wednesday, May 3. Details will be available on the BHSU Campus Calendar at BHSU.edu/events.

"We have some students who've never been on a plane and students who are already world travelers who've taken part in other BHSU travel experiences," said Gray-Wood. "We're excited to analyze the Italians' perspectives on food and enjoy a part of the world where the slow food movement began."

Students enrolled in the History and Geography of Food in Italy course include:
  • Skylar Carsrud, social science composite education major from Gillette, Wyo.
  • Kelsey Espinosa, environmental physical science major from Rosebud
  • William Gottlob, math education major from Salem
  • Hannah Johnson, chemistry major from Spearfish
  • Jared Kovall-Scarlett, business administration-management major from Rapid City
  • Kaylee Lamb, English major from Timber Lake
  • Kristina Poste, history major from Rapid City
  • Cayley Schmitt, business administration-economics and finance major from Sioux Falls
  • Grace Stoebner, communication studies/theatre and mass communication major from Stillwater, Minn.
  • Haylee Strouf, English education major from Miles City, Mont.  
  • Dyllynn Wasserburger, history major from Rapid City
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