Our Program

All courses are taught in the American liberal arts tradition and follow a semester calendar with a 15-week fall session, a 15-week spring session and a 5-week summer session. All instruction is in English. Prior study in Italian is not required.

Course are designed to immerse students into the Italian environment; on-site learning is an integral part of the academic program.

A variety of co- and extra-curricular activities including field trips in and around Tuscany, museum visits, tours, and attendance at cultural events and performances are often included in the course syllabi.

Our study abroad program is organized to offer different courses in the fields of Social and Political Sciences, History, Italian Language, Media, Fine and Liberal Arts.

Frequent guest speakers from industry, politics and the entertainment environment will be adding another dimension to the quality of classes run, as well as the visits to factories and political institutions will enhance in the students the overall knowledge and appreciation of their host society and its culture.


All students can enroll in a 3-credit Italian language course. The introductory language course is designed to assist students to quickly and effectively begin communicating in Italian. Intermediate and advanced courses further practice the skills of students with proficiency in the language. Italian is not a required course during the summer session. Students choose from the variety of elective courses for a minimum of 12 credits per semester. Part-time study is not permitted.




Beginning Italian Language

This is an entry level Italian language course designed for students who have never studied the language before. After completing this course, students will be able to communicate in everyday situations such as introducing themselves, shopping for food or clothing, asking for directions, and making reservations. The course goal is a solid basic grammatical understanding of the Italian language, listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.


Intermediate Italian Language

Designed for students who have attended at least one beginning level Italian course, students will build on grammar and vocabulary learned in the first semester.


Advanced Italian Language

For students who have completed two semesters of Italian Language, this course will develop further grammatical proficiency, pronunciation and reading comprehension.




Culture and Society of Italy

After an introduction to the geography and history of the peninsula and to the cultural significance of the idea of Italy from its unification to the new millennium, the course will analyze the political scene, the latest economic and social transformations, the problems of contemporary Italy, the North-South ‘division’ and other regional differences. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the course will explore the main cultural and social components of contemporary Italy, and how they effect the lifestyle of one of the most important European countries. Particular attention will be devoted to the concept of Italy as a united entity and to its political, cultural and social significance in the past centuries, as well as in the present. The course aims to also show the tight link between history and geography in Italy, and how it evolved during these recent centuries, by lectures, handouts and specifically aimed field trips to Central Italian destinations.


Italian Cinema since 1945

This course surveys Italian cinema from its origins to the present. Its objective is to acquaint the student with a wide variety of genres and Italian directors. This course will present a survey of films, directors and film styles in Italy from the 1940’s to the present. The films will be studied as aesthetic objects in their own right and in their relation to the wider social and cultural environment of post-war Italy. Cinema’s role as a tool of historiographic inquiry will also be investigated. Realist, modernist and post-modernist aesthetics will be discussed in relation to Italian cinema in particular, and Italian society in general. Film screenings will be supplemented by lectures, class discussions and readings.

Films screened: Rome Open City, Bicycle Thief, Umberto D, Voyage to Italy, La DolceVita, Il SorpassoFor a Fistful of Dollars, The Night of the Shooting Stars and Lamerica.


History and Sociology of Mafia

The mafia of Sicily pursues power and money by cultivating the art of killing people and getting away with it, and by organizing itself in a unique way that combines the attributes of a shadow state, an illegal business, and a sworn secret society like the Freemasons. Cosa Nostra is an exclusive secret society because it needs to select its affiliates very carefully and impose restrictions on their behavior in return for the benefits of membership. The chief demands that it makes of its members are that they be discreet, obedient, and ruthlessly violent.

The course analyses the Sicilian Mafia through an historical, social and cultural perspective, tracing its progression from the National unity of Italy to the present day. An analysis of the sociological aspects of the mafia is considered essential, including “the code of silence” or omertà, the many different ways of violence, the social relationships within the organization, the role of women in Cosa Nostra, the way Mafiosi communicate with each other and the external world, the structures of power, the businesses of the mafia, and the relationships between mafia, politics, and religion.





History of  Renaissance Italy

Through examination of the historical and philosophical aspects of the Italian Renaissance, this course considers major cultural developments in their historical contexts. In addition to basic political history, the course also focuses on developments in music, the arts, literature, science and changes in society. The situation in several Italian city-states will be compared to developments in the rest of Western Europe, leading students to consider the significance of the term "Renaissance" itself.


History of Modern Italy

This course examines the principle events behind the unification of Italy while considering the problems it has raised. The rise of the Fascist movement and the government of Mussolini will be studied in contrast to opposition movements on the Left. Post-WWII recovery and difficulties in the Italian Republic will be studied in contrast to the Italian tradition of the city-state, such as the contention between Rome, the Vatican and the rest of the country, and the North-South divide.





History and Politics of the European Union

The course is based on an analysis of  the European unification process in a political-economic perspective. The course considers the period from the Bretton Woods agreement to the rise of the European Monetary Union and analyzes the evolution of the international economic relations of the European countries, in particular towards the U.S.A.  Focal topics of the course are intra-European relations, international financial history of the whole period, and International monetary relations.

Lectures will be devoted to understanding the evolution of European politics and economy from the conflicts that generated World War II, to the development of a common policy.


Politics of Modern Italy

This course examines the main features of Italy's development from unification in 1870 until the Second World War. This course serves as an introduction to studies on contemporary Italy and involves the study and analysis of selected speeches and documents in Italian in order to familiarize students with the fabric of history and political discourse. Among the topics discussed are: the birth of Political Catholicism; Giolitti and Italian Liberalism; the development of the left through the reformism of Turati to the Maximalism of Serrati; the formation of the Italian Communist Party; the rise of Mussolini, the consolidation of Fascism and its domestic and foreign policies.


Italian -American Relations in the 20th Century

The course will examine the relations between Italy and the United States from the 1891 New Orleans incident to the present. Pivotal topics will be the controversy over Fiume at the end of World War I, U.S. appeasement toward the Fascist regime, World War II and its consequences, the role of the United States in Italy's postwar reconstruction, American opposition to the Italian Communist Party with specific attention to the 1948, 1953, and 1976 parliamentary elections, the attitude of the United States toward the so-called opening to the Left, and Italy's participation in NATO from the Cold War to the aftermath of the collapse of the Communist regimes in  Western Europe. The lobbying activities of Italian Americans in the United States to the benefit of their ancestral country will also be analyzed.





Political Geography of Europe

Europe is experiencing tremendous political, social and economic change with the continued growth of the European Union and the transition to free-market economies in Central and Eastern Europe. During this period, Europe has been described as both one and many as the region experiences movement toward both unification and division.

The physical environment, demographic issues, political systems, cultural landscapes, urban and regional development are major themes to be explored. The course material will examine all of Europe, however, emphasis will be placed on Western Europe, the Mediterranean Basin and the role of Italy within Europe.


Historical and Political Geography of Italy

The course has an interdisciplinary approach, presenting the relation between the different layers of time (History) as they happened within space (Geography), with a particular focus on Central Italy between Renaissance and the nineteenth century.

After an introduction to the physical conformation of Italy and its geographical features, the course will analyze how the most important central Italian historical happenings took place within such spaces, and how the latter were modified by the former. Particular attention will be devoted to the study of specific historical and economic-political episodes that have transformed the Italian society since the fifteenth century, and the way these transformations have changed the (political) geography of the Italian peninsula, with a focus on the agricultural changes and the transportation network.

The course will show the tight link between geography, history and politics in Italy, and how it evolved during these recent centuries, by lectures, original documents, maps and specifically aimed field trips to Central Italian destinations (within the regions of Tuscany and Umbria).





Italian Literature:  “Political” Literature

This course will be based on the texts and analysis of a selected number of fundamental works from the second half of the 20th Century.  The importance of the texts in question is linked to their focus on the history and politics of Italy in crucial moments of Italian history. In a series of lectures, extracts from Leonardo Sciascia, Ignazio Silone, Carlo Levi, Elio Vittorini, Cesare Pavese, Italo Calvino and Giorgio Bassani, and class discussions, students will become familiar with the significant historical milestones in Italian history from the Resistance to the power of the Mafia etc.


Italian Literature:  Women’s writing

This course will be a general introduction to women’s writing in Italy in the last 50 years.  From reading the works of Ortese, Morante, Capriolo, Duranti and Morazzoni, the importance of the contribution of women’s writing to Italian literature will become apparent. 

In a series of lectures, readings and class discussions, students will become familiar with a variety of styles and means of expression by analyzing different literary genres while under the common theme of contrast between nature and truth.





Art History: Romanesque and Gothic

In the first half of the Trecento, the masters of Florence and Siena created a new art that revolutionized the vision of Western Europe and that seems to lead toward the Early Renaissance. This course covers in particular the Romanesque and Gothic periods of the late Middle Ages. The similarity to structures designed in Florence in the early 15th century, have led most art historians to name this period also the ‘Protorenaissance’.

The classroom lectures from only part of this course - as we are so ideally located, much of our study will take the form of several on-site visits in Florence; included are also  trips to Siena and Assisi.   Trip to Venice and Rome will provide golden opportunities to see some of the period’s masterpieces.

Among the subjects and artists covered by the course are: Florentine and Pisan Romanesque, Florentine and Sienese Gothic, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Andrea Pisano, Arnolfo di Cambio, Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio, Simone Martini, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Orcagna.


High and Late Renaissance Art

High Renaissance Style in Florence and Rome is examined. Development of this style is traced in northern Italy, especially Venice. Works studied include Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael in Florence and in Rome. The latter part of this course further examines development of the ideal in classic high Renaissance style evidenced in works by Giorgione. Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto and Palladio are studied

The classroom lectures form only a part of this course - we are so ideally located, much of our study will take the form of several on-site visits in Florence. Among the artists covered by the course are: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raffaello, Andrea del Sarto,  Fra Bartolomeo, Correggio, Giorgione, Tiziano,  Bramante, Serlio, Palladio.


Modern European Art

A review of modern Italian art from its foundations in the nineteenth century with the work of the Macchiaioli and the Divisionists up to contemporary developments including the Arte Povera Movement and Transavanguardia.  The rise of modern Italian art will be considered in context with other European modern art concepts, the impact of politics and  historical events, and the reception in Italy of theoretical and formal ideas derived from key sources from Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada and Surrealism, as well as considering critical responses to and receptions of Italian modern art.    

Theoretical and critical texts are drawn from the artists themselves and their contemporaries which are used to situate and define the changing aesthetic and ideological preoccupations that have informed modern Italian art since the Risorgimento period in the nineteenth century to the present.