BIOL 101/GLST 188: The Prehistory, Food, Culture, and Commerce of the Dordogne Region in Southwest France

Dates | Overview | Facts | Academic | Eligibility | Accommodations | Leaders | Cost | Apply

Program Dates

June 25–July 6, 2014

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. Join us as we spend 12 days winding our way from Bordeaux through the Dordogne, Quercy and Lot regions to experience the best of the southwest of France.

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.

Country Facts

Please visit the CIA World Factbook France page for general information about geography, people, government, economy, transportation, and more.


This course satisfies SJSU Studies Area R and Area V.

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. 

Accommodations, Safety, and Visas

Students will stay in a variety of facilities depending on the location, including hotels and a French gîte (holiday home) while in Dordogne. A full itinerary for the program can be found at

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)


Administration Fee


Program fees, lodging, meals, class materials and local tours approx.*


Estimated Total


*Airfare is not included.


FLP Application Process and FLP Student Forms