The course Lifestyles of the Mediterranean aims to introduce the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle pattern to students of the modern era, through observing traditional practices and undertaking experiential activities. Students will have the opportunity not only to study but also to observe and experience the concept of the Mediterranean lifestyle in Greece, where this traditional lifestyle pattern has been implemented for thousands of years.
The course combines theoretical lectures with experiential activities to cover the fundamental principles and components of the Mediterranean lifestyle i.e., the adoption of the Mediterranean diet, the promotion of a physically active lifestyle, and other lifestyle habits that have been found beneficial for health (e.g., adequate rest, hydration, conviviality during meals and exercise). Some days will be devoted to theoretical lectures by local experts on the scientific and culture themes of the day, followed by relevant experimental activities or study and research in libraries of local institutions. Other days will be devoted entirely to field trips, excursions and interactive educational activities, including visits to monumental sites, demonstrations of Mediterranean lifestyle practices by local community members, cooking classes and tasting of Mediterranean recipes in traditional food-service establishments, as well as collective sports activities in nature (walking, cycling, hiking, etc.).
The traditional Mediterranean lifestyle, a cluster of habits and practices that have been associated with various health benefits, is the heritage of millennia of exchanges of people and cultures of all countries around the Mediterranean basin. With a view of spreading the core constituents of the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle and passing the knowledge regarding its beneficial effects on health, the program «Lifestyles of the Mediterranean» aims to introduce this traditional lifestyle pattern to students of the modern era, through observing traditional practices and undertaking experiential activities.
Your Host Country: Greece
The program will take place in Greece, where the Mediterranean lifestyle has been implemented for thousands of years. Lectures, workshops and other educational activities will cover the fundamental principles of the Mediterranean diet, a dietary pattern that has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and recently proposed as a health promoting diet in the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The program will also address other Mediterranean lifestyle practices, including: 1) consumption of fresh, minimally processed, local, seasonal and eco-friendly foodstuffs, 2) frugality and moderation in relation to energy balance and body weight, 3) use of herbs and spices to introduce a variety of flavors and palatability to dishes and allow for a reduction in salt use, 4) adequate hydration with emphasis on water and traditional herbal infusions, 6) adoption of a physically active lifestyle, 7) conviviality with regard to the social and cultural value of meals and physical activity, and 8) stress relief and adequate rest during the day.
During the first week, the program’s educational activities will take place in Athens, the capital of Greece. While in Athens, students will familiarize with the history, evolution and culinary aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle, through visits to archaeological sites and educational workshops in traditional food markets and establishments. The program will continue with a 5-day trip to Peloponnese, a peninsula in the southern part of Greece. While in Peloponnese, students will study the production, nutritional properties and health benefits of traditional Mediterranean foods and spirits, familiarize with the concept of Greek breakfast, taste traditional Mediterranean recipes, and participate in several interactive educational group activities. During the 2-week program, some days will be devoted to theoretical lectures, discussion sessions or workshops on the scientific and culture themes of the day, followed by studying in local institutions. Other days will be devoted entirely to field trips, excursions and interactive educational activities, including visits to monumental sites and cultural places of natural beauty, demonstrations of Mediterranean lifestyle practices, as well as collective activities in nature.
- Be familiar with the concept of the Mediterranean lifestyle as a holistic way of living, incorporating not only lifestyle habits and practices but also other social, cultural and religious aspects of life.
- Be aware of the fundamental principles of the Mediterranean lifestyle, its history and its evolution throughout time in the populations of the Mediterranean region.
- Be able to identify the unique characteristics of the Mediterranean diet and its differences compared to other dietary patterns adopted around the world (e.g. the Western type diet).
- Obtain the skills to properly select foods according to their nutritional value, degree of processing, locality, seasonality and eco-friendliness, in accordance with the principles of the Mediterranean diet.
- Gain competencies in Mediterranean lifestyle practices, such as the design of nutritionally balanced meals and the application of traditional food production, preservation and cooking techniques.
- Critically understand and interpret the available scientific data regarding the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean lifestyle on health and disease.
- Lectures, notes and other files relevant to the course’s learning objectives (printed and electronic material).
- Student portfolio (course overview and schedule, summary of learning outcomes, educational tasks, etc.)
- Leaflets relevant to the course’s educational and cultural activities (e.g., Athens-Attica Guide and Gastronomy, Ministry of Tourism, Greek National Tourism Organisation).
- Research papers relevant to the course’s learning objectives (e.g., Bach-Faig A et al. Mediterranean diet pyramid today. Science and cultural updates. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Dec; 14 (12A): 2274-84.).
- Textbook: Foundations for a Healthy Lifestyle, edited by Labros Sidossis.
Students will have a portfolio of evidence in which they will record all the information necessary to demonstrate the completion of the specific objectives and any other relevant information. More specifically, students will describe and evaluate their experiences in Greece, as well as undertake short educational activities associated with the program’s topics, in order to help cover the program’s main learning objectives and assess the knowledge, the skills and the competencies they obtained. The portfolio will be completed through the PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) method. The term PAL essentially means that each student will work in collaboration with at least one other student in order to develop their knowledge and skills.
All students are expected to work in small groups (4-5 students) to prepare a 15-minute presentation related to the course’s learning objectives. Graduate students are also expected to complete an individual written assignment (2000 words) related to the course’s learning objectives. The presentation and written assignment topics will be assigned at the beginning of the course.