By Claire Rompa
Florence University of the Arts is a place that offers a variety of educational experiences. The most important aspect of learning, especially in a new environment or country, is the hands-on technique of teaching. While studying chapters in textbooks and memorizing key terms and concepts are certainly key to academic success, experiencing firsthand what is being explained and taught during lectures is essential for retaining information.
FUA in particular offers something immensely special for its students – the opportunity to participate in field learning activities. For the course “The Italian Food Industry: From Farm to Table” offered by the Apicius hospitality division at FUA, it is required that each student attends the scheduled educational activity for the semester. During field learning, students will travel outside of Florence to learn about the sustainability of the food industry by listening to farmers talk about their involvement, as well as have the chance to taste, smell, and see where the food we eat everyday comes from.
Some students may think the mandatory activity represents less free weekend time, but in reality it is a chance to be fully exposed to real-world examples that are normally only read about in textbooks. These out-of-the-classroom events make it possible to develop a sort of understanding and knowledge about the subject that would not have been possible to reach by a 3-hour lecture.
An interview was conducted with Megan McCall, a junior at FUA who is enrolled in this course, in order to understand her personal field learning experience through the sustainability course. According to Megan, “…these learning opportunities are what I search for when I sign up for a class. I find that if I am able to physically see and observe what I am learning about, the material is much easier to understand and remember; it makes learning a more intriguing process overall.” Furthermore, Megan explained to me that she believes every class should have such activities because the real world cannot be put into a classroom and understood perfectly, it must be physically experienced by each person.
The Italian Food Industry: From Farm to Table, is not the only course FUA offers that has field learning activity requirements. In fact, it is just one of the many courses that is available that provides this special opportunity for students. Not only do students receive a more practical type of understanding and knowledge, they are also exposed to new industries and work environments that provide them with the chance to collaborate with the community and local organizations.
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