Learning objectives

The Second-cycle Degree (LM) in Economics and Management of Sustainable Food Systems is part of a path of enhancement of the Italian agrifood industry that recognises in Parma one of the most important industrial districts in Italy, which has created a unique accumulation of experience in the national agrifood panorama and a corresponding focus by young people who see in this industrial reality a concrete professional outlet.

Course-specific learning objectives

In the current international competitive environment, food production management requires a new generation of specialists with management and communication skills adapted to a new Italian and foreign economic and social framework in the agri-food sector. Indeed, although Italy is an importer of raw materials and foodstuffs, it is an exporter of quality processed food products that reflect Italian gastronomic culture. It is therefore necessary to train people who, in addition to managing production, are able to manage food quality and interpret consumer needs by communicating the higher quality of Italian gastronomy.
Parma and its territory are a clear example of this. Alongside major food companies such as Barilla, Parmalat and Mutti and Consortia for the protection of Denominazioni di Origine of excellence (e.g. the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, Consorzio del Salame di Felino, Consorzio del Culatello di Zibello) in terms of economic value and reputation, realities aimed at promoting national gastronomy such as ALMA (The International School of Italian Cuisine) and Academia Barilla have sprung up. The result of this process of qualitative enhancement of gastronomy and agri-foodstuffs has made it possible to organise the largest Italian food fair (CIBUS) in Parma, to host the headquarters of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in Parma, and has ensured that the Municipality of Parma is included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network of Gastronomy. The Emilia-Romagna region itself sees Parma as a reference pole for the regional food industry.
This Second-cycle degree is intended to offer a specific and innovative training pathway at national level and at the same time it also completes an articulated training pathway to which the University of Parma has been committed for some time, as demonstrated by the presence of study courses belonging to the L-26 and L-18 degree classes, thus offering a more specialised and scientific level of training to students enrolled in the above-mentioned training pathways.
The professional profile designed for the Second-cycle Degree in Economics and Management of Sustainable Food Systems relates to the management, administration, planning and control of food companies, providing professional development that combines the economic profile with that of the science and culture of gastronomy. The cultural profile is aimed at the economic, commercial and technical management of supply chains with a view to food product and service quality. This professional figure will cover assistance roles within companies and organisations in the agri-food sector with diversified functions depending on the characteristics of the company and the type of product.
In this context, it should be pointed out that the Italian Agri-Food System (SAA) has two strongly complementary souls, one industrial with a strong orientation towards the export of raw materials and processed products, and one artisan with a local character and a high aptitude for processing aimed at the gastronomic use of often typical and traditional foods. The two realities have in common the high quality level of their products and are linked by the strong reputation of the image of Italian gastronomy, often local in character, which is projected into the world. The result is a virtuous circle in which local companies foster the productive and commercial development of global companies thanks to their reputational leverage. The mechanism described is known as Glocal Marketing precisely to link the local-global dimension of companies operating in the Italian food system.
The concept of quality that is intended to be developed in the Second-cycle degree course is therefore multidimensional, as it starts from the idea that product quality derives from the quality of the governing action of companies and agri-food chains in the economic, management, marketing, communication and technological aspects, without neglecting the aspects related to innovation and consumer relations.
The Second-cycle degree course in question was created to respond to the needs of this particular, and at the same time complex, economic-productive context that requires advanced and, at the same time, multidisciplinary skills. The Second-cycle degree course in Economics and Management of Sustainable Food Systems is proposed as a course that is highly integrated in its cultural objectives and aims; the profile of the Second-cycle degree graduate in Economics and Management of Sustainable Food Systems is an economic professional profile applied to the management of quality food systems and districts, integrated with specific skills on gastronomy and in particular on the promotion and socio-cultural valorisation of food.
The training provides an innovative proposal that intends to place at the centre of the training process the integration of advanced economic skills and socio-cultural skills in the specific field of food and gastronomic systems, with a focus on the management of quality production systems. This process is preparatory to a sectoral, but above all territorial development with extension to environmental, economic and social sustainability issues.
There is a common pathway that provides historical, quantitative, economic, legal, management and scientific skills to govern complex and potentially very different food and gastronomic quality systems. The need to ensure an articulation of training activities consistent with the interclass structure of the training project makes it necessary to differentiate from a vocational point of view. On the one hand, the completion of the training course proposes a focus on specific skills in technology and production with economic-management elements, with the aim of developing and increasing knowledge in terms of managing and enhancing the quality of food production, following a sustainable and circular approach. On the other hand, the completion of the training course mainly involves a substantial consolidation of studies in the field of gastronomic sciences, with in-depth studies in the field of quality and socio-economic management of gastronomic productions.
These areas are supplemented by knowledge of a statistical nature, aimed at providing a greater operational preparation, thus complementing the theoretical one, with respect to the use of statistical models in quality management and to support business decisions; knowledge of a sociological nature, to provide research elements to assess the behaviour of social groups in purchasing and food choices; elements of a legal nature, specifically in the area of private law to deepen business and contractual concepts and in order to provide useful tools to increase self-entrepreneurship.
In addition, in order to provide students with useful tools for broad-based management of agri-food supply chains, the course is supplemented with courses such as political economy and applied economics (for the purely economic management of supply chains) and psychology of work and organisations (for conflict management and resolution).