Back to Blog Home

Designing Courses that Infuse History, Culture, Food and Travel

August 22, 2016 Guest Blogger 2 Comments

This guest post was contributed by Pam Skaar Meier, ACIS Academic Travel Advisor from Minneapolis, Minnesota. To chat with Pam about travel, education, or her 28 years of experience leading groups with ACIS, email her at 

Learning and travel don’t end with a diploma…we carry them throughout our adult lives.

As a life-long lover of travel and learning, I began looking for ways to continue my passions for teaching history, experiencing cultures and travel in a new and different format. After leading a group of adults to Cuba this last spring, I began to wonder if there was an area of interest not being met in our community in adult learning. Our catalog of Community Education offerings included history and cooking classes, but there was an absence of the cross-cultural aspect of combining areas of the world, their history and culture and presenting them in a way that could highlight my own travel experiences.

Together with Liz Tyrrell, my ACIS travel consultant, we designed a trip for adults to the Piedmont Region of Italy that would combine its little-known history and highlight the foods and wines of Northwestern Italy. We were able to use an initial ACIS Global Conference Itinerary to this region (that was a huge success a few years ago) with some additional wine tastings, a cooking lesson and a wonderful assortment of activities.

The obstacle I faced as a teacher currently in the classroom was how to reach out to our community with this fantastic opportunity. Advertising through friends or my Facebook page did not result in any leads, so I decided to propose a Community education class as a new learning opportunity.

With Liz’s help, we titled the class, “La Bella Vita” — The Good Life!

This title encompasses all of the areas that I hope to include in designing the curriculum. I recently met with our Community Education Director to discuss protocol, sign paperwork and propose the structure that I would use during this one night, 90-minute class. I am fortunate to be able to teach this night class in my current classroom. Knowing the classroom parameters and technology available will be a huge help in feeling comfortable as well as looking professional!

piedmont italy

The basic structure of the class will be as follows:

I. Introductions
II. Background History and geography of northwestern Italy
III. Cultural Influences in the Piedmont Region during the 19-21st Centuries
IV. Foods and Wines of the Piedmont Region
V. Travel (When, where, why Piedmont Region) and (my ACIS travel experiences)
VI. Wrap-up, information on local wine tastings.
VII. Question and Answer Time
VIII. Interest Survey….where next? Ireland: Farm to Table, Jamison to James Joyce! History and Culture of the Emerald Isle.
IX. Suggestions from the class.

The class will feature a power point presentation that will include the historical information, visual images of the region and cultural pieces. I also plan to include a short video that will highlight the foods and wines available in northern Italy. We are not able to bring food and wine to the class, but I will include information on ten specific wines produced in the region, information on truffle harvest and also spotlight the region’s hidden secret…Nutella!

Wine List Piedmont Region:

1. Arneis-(White and dry)
2. Asti-Spumante-(Sparkling white)
3. Barbaresco-(Red)
4. Barbera d’Alba and Barber d’Asti-(Reds)
5. Barolo-(Red)
6. Dolcetto-(Red)
7. Gattinara-(Red)
8. Langhe Rosso-(Red)
9. Moscato d ‘Asti-(White)
10. Nebbiolo d ‘Alba-(Red)

piedmont region italy

I have also spoken with a few of our area wine shops and asked them if they would be interested in hosting a wine tasting after the class has finished. The responses have been very positive. After registration has been finalized, a list of tastings will be made available to those in the class. I also have a very good friend who has a wine blog called “The Thirsty Kitten”. She has offered to advertise the class and trip we are planning to the Piedmont Region for the fall of 2017.

As the leaves begin to change in Minnesota, and classes begin again, I will be sharpening my skills for a new adventure, bringing a passion for travel, history, food and culture to a whole new audience of learners! Traveling with ACIS for almost 30 years has allowed me the opportunity to combine my love of teaching with a passion for travel. This truly is “La Bella Vita”!

For more info about the trip to Italy, click here to check out the tripsite!


ACIS Social Logo

Guest Blogger

2 thoughts on “Designing Courses that Infuse History, Culture, Food and Travel

  1. Pam,
    This is a wonderful idea! History, Culture and Food all belong together in offering an exception experience of a lifetime. Hope you get lots of interest in your next adventure.

  2. This sounds amazing, Pam! What a great example of how to infuse some of the most important pieces of a culture and allow adults to continue to learn! I hope to see a part 2 where we see how the trip went!!

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe Now