By Jessica Rowe
Photo courtesy of the Student Life and Development department
The Health and Fitness in the Mediterranean course at FUA is a unique learning experience that offers many hands-on opportunities to advance students’ understanding. The course aims to help students explore the benefits of a traditional Mediterranean diet combined with exercise. Various disciplines such as nutrition, sports sciences, and cultural studies are compatible with this course. It consists of lectures, on-site visits, and class discussions. The class form the Sport Sciences department is offered in several academic sessions at FUA throughout the year, grants 3 credits, and is cross-listed to the departments of Dietetics and Nutrition and Happiness Sciences.
The two faculty members who teach the course, Cecilia Ricci and Fabrizio Polloni, spoke about this unique learning experience. Prof. Ricci teaches the nutrition and dietetics part of the course whereas Prof. Polloni oversees the fitness component of the course.
Prof. Ricci explained that the course is about the connection between sports science and how the attitude and style of Mediterranean food developed throughout the centuries. She hopes students can learn to make healthy meal choices and how to correctly select ingredients to make the best dishes. Her favorite part of teaching this course is when she gets to speak about the historical evolution of food and the most important steps between how this style of nutritional food preparation started and how it is now. In her opinion, the unique interaction between lectures and on-site learning allows students to start developing immediate skills. They acquire the theory first and then are immediately put into a situation where they can apply their learning and see the results of their actions through tastings.
Professor Polloni adds that the course was designed to give students an opportunity to explore more of Florence compared to when they explore the city on their own. He wants students to learn more about Florence and the science behind fitness. His favorite part of teaching this course is seeing how happy the students are to be doing something unique. He believes that this course is a direct interpretation of the FUA mission to give students hands-on experiences. The course allows students not only to learn from lectures and books but also by interacting directly with the course material.
Mattia Delle Piane, who works in the Student Life office, had the opportunity to go on two field learning activities with the Health and Fitness in the Mediterranean students – the Museo del Calcio soccer museum visit and a biking exploration of Florence. He enjoyed the opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and learn by doing, such as learning how soccer has evolved over time on-site at the Museo del Calcio soccer museum. Mattia emphasized how the bike exploration allowed students a way to explore more of Florence. His favorite parts of the experience were getting to bike through the park for a change of pace from city biking, and being able to stand on the Italian national soccer team’s training field.
The Health and Fitness in the Mediterranean course is a unique class that allows students to experience a lifestyle in a hands-on manner. The professors are passionate about teaching this course and the students receive a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn while exploring Florence. Being able to learn and immediately see the results of that learning is a rare thing, but this course allows students to do just that.
Future editions of the course at FUA can be consulted at the academic schedule of courses.