BIOL 101/GLST 188: Food, Culture & Commerce

A River Runs Through It: The Food, Culture and Commerce of the Dordogne Region in Southwestern France

Dates | Overview | Facts | Academic | Eligibility | Safety | Leaders | Costs | Apply

Program Dates

May 29–June 18, 2013

Program Overview

The Dordogne region (named after the great Dordogne River) in southwest France is rich in unexpected ways. From the cragged, forbidding precipices which Paleolithic humans called home 40,000 years ago to poor soils that paradoxically yield extraordinary foods from walnuts to truffles, this region is a treasure trove and natural classroom. This program will provide students with hands-on, multidisciplinary experiences that emphasize learning across the curriculum, combining science with culture and economics.

Country Facts

Visit the CIA World Factbook page on France for general information about its geography, people, government, economy, transportation, and more.

Academic Program

BIOL 101, Origins of Life (GE Area R, 3 units)
GLST 188, Special Topics in International Experiences (GE Area V, 3 units)

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  • understand human evolution during the Paleolithic, including the context of these key events in human evolution with respect to earlier hominid evolution and the principles of evolutionary theory;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the methods and limits of scientific investigation;
  • distinguish science from pseudo-science;
  • apply a scientific approach to answer questions about the earth and environment;
  • understand the different dimensions of food and commerce in regional France—from the family farm and the local marché to global export;
  • understand the social and cultural roles of the local marché;
  • understand and appreciate specific food industries (e.g., truffles, regional cheese, wine, etc.) in the southwestern region of France, and their historical and economic significance;
  • understand the basic science behind production in select industries, such as truffles, cheese, walnuts;
  • appreciate the diversity of different cultures, and the historical, political, and social drivers for differences and similarities.

Eligibility Requirements

This program is open to all undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in human evolution, international studies, and French food and commerce. French language ability is not required as classes are conducted in English. All undergraduate students applying must have passed the WST and taken a 100W course. 

Accommodation, Safety, and Visas

This program will start in Paris (3 days) before moving to the Dordogne region (16 days); it will conclude in the Bordeaux region (2 days). Students will stay in a variety of facilities depending on the location including hotels and a French gîte (holiday home) while in Dordogne.

As a U.S. passport holder, you will be allowed to enter France without a visa for up to 90 days. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.

There is currently no US travel warning for France. For more information about safety abroad, visit the US Department of State Travel Information page for France.

Program Leaders

Dr. Elizabeth McGee, Biological Sciences
(408) 924-5277

Mr. Arnaud Bergerol, Global Studies

Estimated Costs

SJSU Special Session Tuition (6 units @ $250 each) 1,500
Administration Fee 200
Program fees, lodging, meals, class materials and local tours approx.* 2,290
Estimated Total $3,990

*Airfare is not included.


FLP Application Process and FLP Student Forms