The Geography Department at Portland State University conducts a yearly short term study abroad program to Tuscany during September. The program -- Tuscany: Sustainability in City and Country -- explores historic and contemporary connections between city and country within a framework of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Through student projects and site visits we have explored topics such as rural land use, sustainable agriculture and forestry, food production and food networks, agritourism, landscape stewardship, urban design, and alternative energy production. This program is designed to fit with PSU’s growing focus on international sustainability and the transferability of those concepts. Our intent is to expand understanding of how lessons from other countries can inform local and regional sustainability efforts (notably Portland’s urban growth management goals and growing food & place initiatives).
This web page is part of our effort to communicate the results of work done by our many student participants and as a forum for ongoing research interests.
Gil Latz, former Geography Department faculty and Vice-Provost for International Affairs at Portland State University, began the program in 2004 after visiting Spannocchia as part of a research project on sustainable forestry. His collaboration with Mauro Agnoletti, geographer at the Universitá of Florence, has provided the organizing concept for the ongoing program: sustainability in city and country. PSU Geography Professor Tom Harvey’s work with the program and his research on Siena resulted in a 2007 article on Siena and Sustainability: City and Country in Tuscany. Students working on projects under a subsequent program leader, Dave Banis – GIS Lab Manager at PSU’s Geography Department – has resulted in a series of interactive maps and hilltown vignettes for Spannocchia and Tuscany. Martha Works, PSU Geography professor, joined the Spannocchia program in 2010 and in 2012 added an emphasis on food and farming.
The September program (Tuscany: Sustainability in City and Country) includes two days in Siena and 1-2 weeks at Spannocchia, an organic farm and sustainable estate 25 miles from Siena. Spannocchia is one of many agriturismos in Tuscany but it may be the only one that is strongly focused on sustainable agriculture and forestry, landscape conservation, and education. Conservation is the central objective of all activities on the property. Spannocchia’s distinguishing characteristics include: its designation as a historic site; its inclusion within the Riserva Naturale Alto Merse; its status as a wildlife refuge; its certification as an organic farm raising endangered breeds of domestic farm animals and producing wine and olive oil; and its activities as an educational centre, including an internship program, programs in archaeology and architectural conservation, sustainable agriculture, and landscape stewardship in association with the American not-for-profit Etruscan Foundation and the Spannocchia Foundation. The property represents in the present day the system by which rural Tuscany – and its cultural landscape – was organized and functioned, from as early as the 1100s.
David Banis (firstname.lastname@example.org), Center for Spatial Analysis and Research, PSU
David manages the Center for Spatial Analysis and Research in the geography department at Portland State University. His teaching focuses on map use, cartography, and geographic information systems. His interests include resource management and cultural geography. He has traveled in more than 30 countries including numerous trips to Tuscany and 5 trips as leader or co-leader on the Tuscany: Sustainability in City and Country program.
Tom Harvey (email@example.com), Geography Faculty, PSU
Tom Harvey is an urban geographer with interests in cultural landscape history, landscape stewardship, and connections between city and country. He is currently exploring the lessons that Tuscany and the European Landscape Convention hold for heritage landscape preservation in the U.S. He taught for a term in Siena in 1999 and later co-founded and co-led the PSU in Tuscany program from 2005-07. After a hiatus, he is looking forward to a return visit to Spannocchia, Siena, and the smaller hill towns of the region in 2012.
Martha Works (firstname.lastname@example.org), Geography Faculty, PSU
Martha Works has research and teaching interests in cultural and historical geography, landscape and land use, and agriculture and food production. She teaches courses on World Population and Food Supply, Latin America, and Global Studies. She has traveled extensively in Europe and Latin America, including several trips to Italy. She taught in a study abroad program in Siena in Spring 2011 and co-taught this program 2010-2012.