Summer: Rutgers- The Microbiology and Culture of Cheese & Wine

Cluny, France

Program Overview

Term Start Date End Date Application Deadline
Summer 2021
Jun 05, 2021
Jun 20, 2021
Mar 01, 2021
Language(s) of Instruction
Class Standing
Rising Sophomore
Good Academic Standing

Students will be notified of any program cancellation due to COVID-19 by February 15th, 2021. If host country does not allow US tourists or has not lifted mandatory quarantine restrictions by February 15th, the program will be cancelled.



Program Advisor

The Program

At the intersection of applied sciences and French cultural studies, this dynamic program investigates the microbiology of wine and cheese production and its central role in French patrimoine (cultural heritage).

Study the complex chemical and biological processes that create diverse varieties of cheese and wine, with techniques that blend modern scientific knowledge with traditional values and practices. Learn to appreciate terroir, the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology, and climate of the region are expressed in wine and cheese. Explore the role of cheese and wine in the history, economy, culture, cuisine, art, and architecture of Burgundy, and of France as a whole. Prior experience in microbiology is recommended for this program, but students should have at least taken an introductory course in biology or chemistry.

Summer: Rutgers- The Microbiology and Culture of Cheese & Wine

Program Locations

Summer: Rutgers- The Microbiology and Culture of Cheese & Wine



Cluny is a haven for those who appreciate, or hope to discover, la France profonde--the deep, genuine French heartland. A medieval city with a modern population of just under 5,000, Cluny is rich in major historic monuments. These include the ruins of the once imposing Romanesque abbey, and unique townhouses dating from the 11th & 12th centuries. Today, Cluny is a charming city with friendly cafés and tiny restaurants, attractive boutiques and galleries, and a bustling Saturday market that's noted throughout the Burgundy region. And of course, Cluny has more than its fair share of fabulous wine and cheese shops!


To view a syllabus for the program, please click here.  Please note this is a sample syllabus, all of its content is subject to change.

This intensive two-week course, worth 3 credits, is structured through lectures, group projects, wine and cheese tasting and field trips to explore the microbiology as well as the socioeconomic and cultural history of cheese and wine in southern Burgundy. You will discover how bacteria and fungi are central in processing milk into cheese, and savor the complex tastes and aromas of the diverse cheese varieties of the region. You will also learn about the history of viticulture, how yeast ferments sugars to ethanol, and the complexity of the chemical and biological reactions during maturation which give wine their character.

You will also visit Louis Pasteur's home and laboratory in Arbois, where we can trace back his steps to the early discoveries in fermentation that laid the foundation for the science of microbiology. The course melds a comprehensive appreciation of the science, history and culture of cheese and wine. 

You can earn credit for either 11:680:102 (Science and Culture of Cheese and Wine, a science course for non-majors, no prerequisites) OR 11:680:410 (Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine, an upper-level microbiology elective). Assignments and report requirements will differ.

For information about study abroad credit transfer, registration, and transcripts please visit the Academics section of our website.


Field trips and excursions in connection with wine and cheese will include visits to local farms, dairies, vineyards, caves (i.e., wine cellars), weekly markets in Cluny and adjacent towns, the Louis Pasteur house and lab in Arbois, the Roman remains at Vienne, great monasteries and chateaux connected with the wine trade, and Beaune, the historic capital of the Burgundy wine region.

Course Syllabus

Day 1. Joint departure from Paris, Welcome to Cluny.

Day 2. Review of microbiology and biochemistry of food fermentations. Discovering medievaland modern Cluny.

Day 3. Making Cheese: fermentation, curdling and aging. Introduction to different cheese varieties.

Day 4. Excursion to farms, cheese manufacturers and wineries in the Macconnais.

Day 5. Making wine. Microbiology and biochemistry of alcoholic fermentations.

Day 6. Excursion to vineyards & dairies of the Côte d’Or.

Day 7. The Farmer’s Market in Cluny.

Day 8. Sunday - Free

Day 9. Viticulture and cheese making – History and trade patterns.

Day 10. Excursion to Beaunne, the historic capital of the Burgundy wine region.

Day 11. History of microbiology: from applications to fundamentals.

Day 12. Excursion to Jura: Arbois, Pasteur's house and laboratory.

Day 13. Excursion to Jura: Jurassic cheese and wine.

Day 14. Wrap up - Presentation of student projects.

Day 15. Departure.

Important dates:

Students will be notified of any program cancellation due to COVID-19 by February 15th, 2021. If host country does not allow US tourists or has not lifted mandatory quarantine restrictions by February 15th, the program will be cancelled.

Housing and Meals

You will be staying in shared rooms at a hostel that is within walking distance of the center of Cluny and situated close to the Abbey of Cluny and the nationally recognized engineering school, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers.

Continental breakfast is provided at the hostel.  You will have to provide for your own lunches and dinners.  Cluny is a student town with lots of inexpensive restaurants, cafés, snack bars and bakeries for your meals.  You can choose from crèpes at Le Cloître, quiche from Madame Germain, pizza at Le Forum (just across a medieval bridge from your hostel), and even burgers at Le Quebec!  Cluny also has plenty of beautiful spots for wine and cheese picnics in and around the abbey grounds.

Financial Information

Program Costs

This is the billed amount that will appear on your Rutgers term bill during the term you study abroad.
NJ Resident non-NJ Resident
Undergraduate $3,500 $3,790
Graduate $3,680 $3,960
Program Cost includes:

•    Tuition 
•    Housing
•    Some Meals (see brochure page for details)
•    Excursions
•    Administrative Fees
•    International SOS Health Insurance

Out-of-Pocket Costs

These are estimated expenses that are not part of your term bill. Students will need to pay for these expenses out-of-pocket.
Airfare $1,200
Meals $200
Personal Expenses $100
Total $1,500.00
Out-of-Pocket Cost includes:

The above costs are estimations and represent the known out-of-pocket costs students encounter during their time abroad. 
Some of these expenses will be paid for prior to going abroad, such as an airline ticket and visa costs, while some of these expenses, such as meals and local transportation, will be paid in-country as part of your daily expenses. As you plan, you will need to budget these costs and spend wisely throughout your time abroad.


Available to all Rutgers students participating in a Rutgers Global–Study Abroad program. Applications can be found inside of your study abroad program application. For more information, please visit the Scholarship section of our website.

 Available to SEBS students only.  For more information please visit the SEBS Scholarships web page.

Student Spotlight

Emina is with a group of friends.

"I was surprised at the relationships farmers and retailers and craftsmen/women had with their customers. That aspect I felt was the most important in getting me to open my eyes to French culture, and once I learned that, I was able to understand so much more. Travelling abroad with friends from school has made me a bit more independent, I would say. You are responsible for yourself, but you are also responsible for each other. If you get lost walking through the streets of the town or using the metro system in Paris, you have to find out how to get to where you are going, and sometimes there is not much help. This is also more difficult when signs are not written in a language that you are comfortable with. But, if you are willing to learn and to not give up when challenged, you will always find a worthwhile adventure, and your way to your destination, of course."

Rachel Mahoney

"This summer, I took a course called “The Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine” which was hosted in Cluny, France, a historical town within the Burgundy region of the Saône-et-Loire department. Here, I had an absolutely unforgettable experience with some amazing people. I will admit though: I did experience a little bit of culture shock and ended up feeling homesick by the second day. But, by the time the two weeks were over, I had become so accustomed that I didn’t want to leave!"

Delmarice Price

"I'm so glad I went on this trip. Being immersed in other people’s culture and space, you get to learn a lot about you and the people in the world. I learned that France is very similar to the way I want to live in the future. From the style of buildings and village style towns to the types of foliage and landscapes, France is a place I could see myself retiring to and residing in later in my life.”