AIFS Partnership Programs: Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium
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Florence, Italy

Spring 2020

Faculty Bios

Santa Rosa Junior College: Jeanette Benfarhat

Jeanette received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from San Francisco State University and her Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley. She has taught U.S. Government and International Relations at SRJC since 1990. Her particular areas of interest are the politics of food, migration, climate change, and the future of the EU.  She devoted her 2015 sabbatical leave to exploring the impact of climate change on food security and conducted much of her research in Spain and Italy. She is also a member of the Institute for Environmental Education committee at SRJC and is working to promote environmental studies on campus.

Travel has been an important part of Jeanette's education. She traveled to India with Gandhi's grandson to learn about social and economic programs established by Gandhi; visited farm worker cooperatives in Northern Spain, Cuba, and Peru; met with representatives of EU institutions in Brussels; and studied Spanish and Italian in Spain and Italy respectively.  She has also traveled throughout Europe, North Africa, Mexico, and Canada. 

She taught in Florence in spring 2011 and 2017 and is excited to return to explore Italy’s rich history as well as current political issues.


Los Rios Community College District: Diane Carlson

Diane Carlson has enjoyed ten years of teaching sociology at Folsom Lake College.  While she started off early on as a music major, life events pushed her to leave college and hitch hike around Europe, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey.  Her experiences transformed her world and she eventually went back to school and discovered sociology and its valuable tools for analyzing and understanding many aspects of her experiences.  After obtaining a BA from the University of Arizona in Sociology, she continued on to get a JD from the UA College of Law. Not satisfied with the inequitable and unjust ways she saw the law applied, she went back to graduate school in sociology to learn more about gender inequality and racism and ended up with a summer internship with the Institute for Gender Studies at the University of South Africa in Pretoria and an MA from UC Davis. Although teaching is rewarding, Diane’s need to understand more about social justice and equity issues in education led her to her Doctorate in Education from CSUS in 2014.

Meanwhile, Diane has taken advantage of every opportunity to travel that she can. These opportunities have included China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, as well as Peru, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and various parts of Europe.  She returned to South Africa in 2017 to reacquaint herself with the changes the country had experienced in the 17 years since she had been there.  Although Diane has been fortunate to travel extensively with her family, it’s still that first time of rambling around Europe and the eastern Mediterranean that taught some of the most significant lessons about what it is like to be far from home on a learning adventure.  Travel can be intense, magnificent, challenging, and transformative, and Diane is excited to share how sociology can help unravel and illuminate those experiences.


Contra Costa Community College District: Danielle DeFoe

Danielle DeFoe has been teaching at Diablo Valley College since 2012. She completed her Master’s Degree in Literature and Certificate in Composition from Sacramento State University, and is currently working toward completion (in 2019) of her Master’s of Fine Arts in creative writing in the Red Earth Program at Oklahoma City University. Before joining DVC, Danielle taught a variety of courses at a number of colleges, and she has learned something from every place and every student. She views the community college as a special and important part of higher ed, where every student has a chance to discover and invent themselves in many different ways: scholar, individual, friend, community member, leader, and more.

Danielle has traveled on her own and with her family to a number of beautiful countries, but she has never before had the pleasure to teach in a Study Abroad program, and she looks forward to the opportunity to share her love of writing, literature, and travel with her students in Florence, Italy in spring 2020.  


San Mateo Community College District: Jessica Marshall

Jessica Marshall is a Professor of Anthropology at Cañada College, and has taught for 15 years. With a passion for taking students abroad, she has taught Anthropology in Egypt, Italy, Belize, and Australia. Her research interests are in contemporary objects made to keep traditions alive. She holds a BA in Anthropology, a BA in Photography, and a BA in Journalism from California State University Sacramento, and a MA in Visual Anthropology from the University of Kent in England. Before teaching, Jessica worked as an archaeologist for 8 years, and lived and traveled extensively around the globe. Twenty-three years ago she was a community college student in the same AIFS program in Florence that she will now be teaching in.