Summer Study in Florence, Italy

Chloe and Ryan in Florence 

Photo Credit to: Webster Student Chloe Costa and Ryan Green

Cost Worksheet for Florence, Italy

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Elementary Italian I (ITAL 15201) - An introduction to the Italian language in the context of Italian culture.

Intermediate Italian II (ITAL 25202) - Continuation of ITAL 25201 and speaking, listening, reading and writing skills using a variety of cultural materials.


Intercultural Communication (COMM 35852) - In the contemporary world characterized by globalization of goods, people and ideas, and by growing processes of internal diversification, intercultural competences are necessary requirements for every individual both for personal and professional life. Intercultural Communication deals with the relevance of difference (not only among cultures but also within a culture) that is approached both as a threat and as a resource. In our everyday experience the continuous reference to the ‘other’ (ethical, religious, political, gendered etc) is used to build up the very sense of our identities and in so doing dividing the world among ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘bad’ and ‘good’, ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’. Diversity compels us to reflect upon our values, and the taken-for-grantedness of the social world in which we live. This course will move from the social constructivist approach trying to combine together sociology, cultural anthropology, and media studies investigating the role that diversity plays in our every-day life and the importance to acquire an intercultural communication approach in order to be more effective in our processes of communication, to solve conflicts and to better understand the interactions among individuals, institutions and cultures. Theories, concepts and problems will be presented through lectures and audiovisual materials. Interaction is strongly required and will be stimulated. Students will be invited to take part in the classes commenting on the topics presented, offering opinions, surveying and practicing ‘problem solving’.

The Genius of Florence (COMM 45091) - Students spend a semester in Florence, but they spend so much time traveling that it’s not unusual for them to finish the semester with little understanding of Florence itself or what defines the city and its people. This course is designed to give students a brief introduction to the genius and uniqueness of Florence. Course meetings will take place mostly at relevant locations, such as churches, streets, and museums, rather than in the classroom, as the purpose of the course is to begin to familiarize the students with the city and to train their eyes to notice and comprehend what is around them. 

Italian Cinema (CCI 40095)The course introduces the student to the world of Italian Cinema. In the first part the class will be analyzing Neorealism, a cinematic phenomenon that deeply influenced the ideological and aesthetic rules of film art. In the second part we will concentrate on the films that mark the decline of Neorealism and the talent of ‘new’ auteurs such as Fellini and Antonioni. The last part of the course will be devoted to the cinema from 1970s to the present in order to pay attention to the latest developments of the Italian industry. The course is a general analysis of post-war cinema and a parallel social history of this period using films as ‘decoded historical evidence’. Together with masterpieces such as Open City the screenings will include films of the Italian directors of  the ‘cinema d’autore’ such asLife is Beautiful and the 2004 candidate for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film,I Am Not Scared. The class will also analyze the different aspects of filmmaking both in Italian and the U.S. industry where I had the pleasure to work for many years in the editing department on films such as Dead Poets Society and The Godfather: Part III. The films in DVD format are dubbed in English or sub-titled.

Communication and Terrorism (COMM 45091/55095)This course examines many facets of terrorism, including its historic roots and its social, political, ethnic, geographic, moral and spiritual causes. Students will be challenged to understand basic definitions of terrorism and think beyond conventional assumptions about terrorist organizations, especially assumptions derived from mass media, popular culture and Western biases. We will examine two central premises:  first, that communication – spoken/written, traditional/nontraditional, public/private, visual/symbolic  – is a both a tool and the goal of organized terrorism; and second, that terrorist organizations use brand-positioning strategies we often associate with commercial entities. Students will be required to think deeply, critically and objectively about the narratives, messages, images and symbolism used by past and present-day terrorist movements, including those that occurred in Italy and Europe. 

Examining Florentine Architecture Through Photography (VCD 40195)Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. How do we see the Architectural History of Florence through photography? We will examine buildings, forms, and spaces as well as the light and shadow that interact and define the rich architectural heritage of Florence. Sessions will involve a survey of Florentine architecture from pre-historic (Greek and Roman) periods though current 21st Century. The student will select a period or typology as a theme and explore through photography, the historical and contemporary relevance of their theme. Periods can include Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism, 17th Century, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Empire and Art Nouveau, Modern and Contemporary. We will examine buildings, forms, and spaces as well as how light and shadow can interact and define the rich architectural heritage of Florence. This class will foster both traditional and creative approaches to photographing Florentine architectural structures and dimensional spaces through a combination of visual formalism, direct representation and conceptual interpretation, encouraging students to bring their own particular aesthetic to the process. 

 Art & Culture 

Art Experiences in Italy (ARTH 42091/62095) - The Art Experiences in Italy class is based in Florence, Italy, birthplace of the Renaissance, and home to many of the most important monuments of the period.  Florence is often hailed as the most beautiful city in the world, and students will have the singular opportunity of living and studying in the old historic center, becoming thoroughly acquainted with its monuments and treasures.  ARTH 42091 provides a thorough grounding in the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque monuments of Florence through direct, on the spot encounters with the painting, sculpture, and architecture found in each neighborhood. No work of art is ever examined through reproduction and the class does not meet in a classroom--everything we discuss is experienced through the original, in the churches, palaces, and museums of the city, so that Florence itself becomes our classroom.   

Four optional field trips are offered during the four week program.  Two extended excursions of three days in Rome and Venice are taken to gain an intense experience of the highlights of these two major centers. Two day trips are taken to neighboring historic centers such as Mantua and Assisi. The cumulative experience of Florence, Rome and Venice and other centers will serve as a touchstone for one of the themes for reflection I hope students take back with them upon their return home--how do we make our own environments, our city centers and public spaces, as beautiful and alive as what we encounter in Italy?  How do we make our urban centers as proud of what we have as a city such as Florence is of its own place?
A daily journal and a research paper are required. Prerequisite: None, though ARTH 22006 Ancient to Medieval Art and 22007 Renaissance to Modern Art will be helpful in assimilating the information.

Design Thinking (ART ED)The purpose of this course is to teach students how to use design thinking — a problem solving process that may be applied to daily life, developing innovative ideas, creating curriculum, or solving societal issues. The goal of the course is to guide students to create impactful solutions through intentional and collaborative choices. They will adapt the design process and methods of design thinking specifically toward issues in their major area of study.

Design thinking as used in making designed objects plays an integral role in societies. By studying objects that people create, students are informed of the measurements of progress and a relationship to the human condition. Studying architecture, fashion, city design, and gardens in Florence will provide a foundation for understanding how objects of the 14th and 15th century symbolized life.  Through guided tours, workshops, and self-exploration, this study will address some of the economic, political, spiritual, practical, and social aspects of Renaissance life shown through the form and function of designed objects.  Viewing these objects in their physical context, as well as learning about the historical context, will establish links between the relationship of design to life then and now.

The Golden Age of Italian Art (ARTH 42095)This course investigates the extraordinary art of Italy from Giotto to Bernini – from early Tuscan Renaissance to the Roman Baroque, with emphasis on examining painting, sculpture, architecture, and urban design within cultural and historical contexts.  Will include guided trips to see many artworks and monuments throughout Florence to view them in their original intended locations.

The African Presence and Influence in European History and Culture (PAS 43395)This course will focus on the African presence and contributions within European history; African Art and artifacts in major museums throughout Europe (British Museum, Louvre, National Archaeological Museum in Florence, etc.); and sculptures and buildings in Rome, Paris, and throughout Andalusia in Spain which are either African in origin, or influenced by African culture.  This includes Blacks who were: Popes in the Catholic Church (Victor I, Miltiades, Gelasius I); members of royal families (Charlotte Sophia, wife of King George III; Murat, King of Naples; John VI, King of Portugal; Alessandro Dei Medici, Duke of Florence, etc.); classical musicians and composers (Ludwig Van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, etc.); poets and play writers (Alexander Pushkin, Alexander Dumas, Goethe, etc.); Egyptian obelisks, Muslim mosques and royal residences; Viking explorers (Thorhall, Thorstein, Halfdan); philosophers, scientists and scholars; etc.

Designing for Building Security and anti- Terrorism in the 21st Century (ARCH 46995/56995)Building security is a complex and emerging issue. Increased concern regarding terrorist attacks, data breaches, and active shooters is drastically shaping how we plan and design buildings.  Participants in this course will explore contemporary trends in secure building design through a nuanced understanding of security as it pertains to historical precedents, free societies, and current architectural trends. The course begins with an in-depth study of how safety and security have shaped the city of Florence, from its Roman military roots through the height of its world influence. Upon completion of this course, students will be familiar with the newest security and anti-terrorism standards including those issued by the DoD and FEMA.   An optional weeklong trip to Berlin will explore how progressive European cities are responding to contemporary security threats. This course is interdisciplinary and does not require previous building design experience.

Understanding Music (MUS 22111)This section of Understanding Music will survey the history of Western music using Florence as the backdrop.  It will connect music with the history of Florence allowing students to gain an understanding of music through live concerts, visits to museums, and by studying the numerous links between Florence's art, architecture, and music.  Students have the opportunity to attend concerts from a variety of periods including a full-length opera.  Understanding Music is a Kent Core-Fine Arts course.


Brain Health and Disease: Mediterraneans vs Western Lifestyle (BSCI)This program is designed for students to learn about, explore and discuss the ways in which various environmental influences impact human health, particularly the brain.   The setting of Florence lends itself nicely to an important and studied comparison between a Mediterranean and Western (US) lifestyle that includes diet, exercise and social interactions and how these differences may impact brain function as well as general health and longevity.  Many of today’s health issues can be directly traced to modifiable risk factors associated with lifestyle choices and this course is designed to elucidate the impact of these choices on human health and disease.

The objectives for the course are to provide a broad understanding of how cross-cultural differences between Mediterranean-style living and US-Western style living impact brain function and general health.  Focus will be placed on how differences in diet, exercise, and social aspects including stress between these two lifestyles impact physiological mechanisms involved in preserving brain functions such as cognition.  Importantly, however, given the tight relationship between general physiology and brain function, focus will extend to other aspects beyond the brain, including endocrine and cardiovascular health etc.  Lectures will encompass both science as well as the sociological/geographical context framing that has led to these differences and will involve field-based tasks to identify and evaluate such differences.

This course has a primary appeal to Biology students but it incorporates health and humanities aspects as well.  Therefore, this course is not of restricted interest to just biology students but could be appealing to psychology, exercise physiology, anthropology, sociology, and nursing students.  

Feasts and Plagues : the Science of Italian Food, Wine and Disease (BSCI 40195)Over the centuries, human health has been challenged by infectious agents from the Black Death to the modern day Ebola virus while at the same time we rely on microbes to produce beer, wine, bread, and other foods.  In this unique course, we will explore causes and consequences of pandemics, plagues and other earth shattering diseases.  At the other end of the spectrum, we will consider the biology that yields wine, bread and beer and biological processes used in vinegar and cheese making.  Lastly, we will bring the elements of disease and food production together to explore emerging concerns about food safety and contamination.  This course will feature hands on activities, tastings, field trips and a chance to put your explorations of Florence and other locations you visit while in Europe to good use as you consider the process by which food and beverages make their way to our tables and the historically impacts of disease.

Substance and Light : Chemistry in the Visual Arts ( AS 10095)Visual artists have utilized a broad range of materials for their artistic practice over the centuries including pigments, paints, dyes, and inks, supports and grounds, as well as clay, glass, stone, metals and plastics.  This course will explore the chemical structure and properties of art materials and the chemistry that underlies processes in art such as the drying of oil paint, fresco painting, etching, and photography.  Of course, visual artists have a particular interest in properties such as color and surface texture, and so the course will also examine how light interacts with materials to produce color and surface effects.  Chemists too have a great interest in the interaction of light with matter.  Indeed, it was studies of the emission of light by matter that led to a deeper understanding of the structure of the atom.  Today chemists employ a range of techniques that exploit how light interacts with matter in the analysis of the composition and structure of materials, and so the course will also explore the chemical analysis of works of art, and its application in art conservation, restoration, and the identification of forgeries. 

Science of Human Nutrition (NUTR 23511)The Science of Human Nutrition class will cover basic concepts and principles in the science of human nutrition, energy balance, weight control, individual nutrient needs, diet selection, nutrition related metabolism and physiological functions, nutritional diseases and how to prevent these diseases, and current nutrition related controversies.  In addition to the biological and physiological components of nutrition, the class will also cover behavioral and cultural nutrition:  How do food choices, food availability, and food perceptions vary across cultures and countries.

Faces: Human Head Anatomy with a Forensic Art Focus (ANTH 48095) - The course begins by studying the art and architecture of Pollaiuolo, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bandinelli, and others in Florence.  In the classroom, students will study read human skills, and learn the form and function of the muscles of facial expression.  In the last part of the course students will learn the techniques of two dimensional forensic facial reconstruction.  Using knowledge of head anatomy, and tissue depth data from the literature, each students will prepare detailed facial approximation sketches, based on skull photographs.


Creative Writing Across Borders : A Literary Conversation (ENG 49095)This course taught by the Wick Poetry Center and offered through the Kent State University Department of English is intended for all students interested in exploring the rich tradition of writers who have sought travel and encounters across borders to gain insights into their own sense of home and belonging in the world. We will focus specifically on the rich literary conversation between Italian and English-speaking writers and, through guided writing prompts and field trips, explore new digital technologies for engaging with and sharing our voices. No previous creative writing experience is necessary.

Words that Matter: Learn to Change the World like a Florentine (ENG)Discover how Florentines Machiavelli, Pico della Mirandola and Dante applied their knowledge of ancient rhetoric to pen world-changing works that remain relevant and engaging today. Visit the places they lived and worked to bring their insights and struggles to life. Apply the knowledge gained to your own experiences--and change your own life and world.

Social Sciences

From The Magna Carta to the Beheading of Kings: The Origins of Modern (CRIM 37095) - In this class we explore what crime “is”; a crime against society or a punishment for individuals mis-behavior.  From the readings of Aristotle and Socrates, to the debate between Locke and Hobbes, the polemics of these philosophers leads us to the modern thoughts on criminology, that is, the classical and positivist schools. We will explore the impact of the Magna Carta on human rights, that culminated in the beheading of Charles I in 1649 by the parliamentary forces of Oliver Cromwell’s men for the kings high treason against England. Emerging from Charles I’s execution, the classical school of Bentham and Beccaria engages in a polemic discussion against the positivist school of Garofolo, Lombroso, Ferri, &  Goring. We will also explore the Sociological Aspect of crime developed by Tarde, Durkeim, and Bonger as well as the psychiatric aspects of crime developed by Aschaffenburg, Ray, and Maudsley.


Fascism and the Politics of Extremism (HIST) 

Italian Mafia (HIST 38195)This course analyzes the infamous criminal organizations of Italy from their origins to their evolution as an intrinsic part of Italian, and global, history. The relationship between Mafia and politics, its internal rules and codes, its business activities, and its deep connection to the society and the culture of Sicily and the Italian South are some of the important aspects that are examined in depth. Through current literature and media the international reach of the Italian Mafia and its effect on the collective imagination will be examined. The relationship and differences between the Italian and the American Mafia will also be an important component of the course.  In the historical introduction, the origins of the Sicilian Mafia will be explained in the context of the Italian Unification, as well as the development of the Mafia from its agrarian origins to its infiltration into the political realm of the Italian State. The rebirth and transformation of the Mafia after its suppression during World War II is an important historical turning point, one which ultimately led to the institutionalization of the fight against the Mafia, which will also be analyzed from both a political and cultural perspective. Contemporary Mafia activity and its expansion by Italian Mafia organizations, such as the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra, will be studied after the presentation of the Mafia’s history.

ST in Europe Machiavelli ( HIST 38195) - Niccolò Machiavelli published his most famous and controversial book, The Prince, almost exactly 500 years ago.  Largely on the strength of this volume, he has variously been described as a teacher of evil and as the brilliant originator of modern political theory.   This course will examine Machiavelli and his works from various angles.  Is he really so Machiavellian, after all?  How well do his ideas stand up to philosophical scrutiny?  To what extent were his ideas molded by contemporary Florentine circumstances?  How applicable are his ideas to leadership today?   We will read from The Prince and The Discourses in translation, as well as several important secondary sources.  We will visit sites important to him in the Florence area, most notably Casa Machiavelli in nearby San Casciano, which remains much today as it was a half a millennium ago when, exiled from his beloved Florence, Machiavelli wrote The Prince even as he gazed from his hilltop estate upon the Duomo and the rest of Florence’s skyline merely a dozen kilometers away.  

The Roman Achievement (CLAS 21405)Romans accomplished outstanding achievements in fields such as political and social organizations, art and architecture, infrastructures, military innovations, urban living and commerce. This course is an introduction to the history and culture of the Roman world, from the origins of Rome through its ascent to domination of the Mediterranean world, the troubled changes from Republic to Empire, and the flourishing of the city and its provinces during the Imperial period until its crisis and consequent fall during the 4th-5th centuries AD. Political and military organizations, religious beliefs towards life and death, social identity, entertainment, private life, familial relationships, sexuality and the changes of these assets and values throughout time are examined in this course by means of the most recent archaeological and historical approaches and debates. As we search together to unravel the historical, cultural and social significance of the Roman achievement, primary sources in translation will be used to provide a fresh look of how some political events were perceived, how Roman urban life and its agents were captured by the satirical descriptions of Juvenal and Martial,  and how such a catastrophic event such as the eruption of the Vesuvius affected writers such as Pliny and Seneca. The examination of the Roman towns of Florence and Fiesole will help us to better understand life in small but lively urban settlements through the joint analysis of structures and artifacts. All classes will be supplemented by powerpoint presentations, and in many occasions by videos and documentary movies.

Philosophy & Politics

Political and Policy Challenges of Demography (POL 40995)This course will explore the political and policy implications of changing demographics around the world but particularly in Europe.  With fewer young people to support an aging population, it is expected that concerns about allocating resources across generations fairly will become more common political debates across European countries.  The class will focus attention on how demographic changes are challenging different national systems of welfare provisions Europe.  Themes covered in the class will include: the stability of state funded health and pension programs; the capacity of family caregivers and human service providers; and immigration and the rules governing economic and political participation.

Wicked Problems: Politics and Policy in Modern Italy (POL)Wicked problems such as terrorism, organized crime, poverty, and climate change are hard to solve because they are enormous in scope, difficult to define, and interconnected with other problems. As a result, trying to tackle wicked problems can sometimes feel hopeless. Yet, as the world becomes increasingly globalized, these problems affect each and every one of us.  Therefore, understanding how a country’s political system can either help or hinder its efforts to tackle wicked problems is of crucial importance. This course introduces students to the modern Italian political system and some of the wicked problems that confront modern Italy. Topics include global terrorism, immigration and the refugee crisis; political corruption and organized crime; economic development and unemployment; and environmental sustainability and climate change.

How to be a Renaissance Boss in the Modern World (POL)Have you ever heard the term “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” and the small world phenomenon? What is it that the Medici in Renaissance Florence, Goldman Sachs, or nongovernmental organizations have in common? In our complex, globalized world networks represent enormous political power. This course explores how Florence’s fractious political history can teach us a great deal about social networks. Network connections today enable a creative, new kind of global citizen who participates and influences through NGOs like Addiopizzo to beat the Italian Maffia, takes business to the next level through crowdfunding like Kickstarter, or participates in the sharing economy using Uber or Airbnb. This course will help you discover how everything is connected to everything else.

Business & Marketing

Global Business Field Trip/Case Study (BUS 40195)The course provides students an opportunity to learn about international business firsthand by meeting officials/managers from select United Nations agencies, non-government organizations and commercial enterprises.   It will introduce students to how nations cooperate to develop rules and policies to guide and govern world commerce.  To do so, a number of topics are discussed including: making markets accessible, promoting fair competition, protecting intellectual property rights, ensuring worker welfare, and managing for-profit enterprises across multiple national borders.  Special attention will be given to the application of these principles in developing and emerging markets.  The course is built around a “live case” where students will be required to apply concepts learned in class to solve a business/policy problem facing a multinational enterprise/UN agency program.

Note:  Class meetings are arranged in Florence (during the June session) to discuss assigned readings and begin case work.  Field visits and presentation of case recommendations are schedule to be held in Geneva, Switzerland (mandatory) during the week following the end of the Florence Summer Institute.  Transportation to/in Geneva and student housing are prearranged.  Additional fees are assessed when enrolling in this course. 

International Business (BUS 30234)This course provides an introduction to different environments, theories and practices of international business. This course is designed for all students interested in international business, regardless of their principal academic discipline. Topics covered include globalization; international companies; sustainability; the impact and importance of culture; economic, financial, social, political environments; global strategies and structures; international marketing and entry modes. In order to facilitate these goals, students are expected to prepare, present their views, and actively participate in classroom discussions. The course provides a broad survey of the theoretical and practical aspects of management practice in Europe, introducing you the major financial, economic and socio – economic, physical, socio – cultural political, labor, competitive and distributive forces that characterize business in Europe. The course will help you to develop an increased awareness of the differences between European and North American business practices, and a better grasp of the impact of differences in business practices on the conduct of business internationally. The emphasis in this course is both on understanding and applying one’s knowledge of different management practices, using national cultures as an aid to understanding the evolution of various management practices.
We begin by analyzing the international business environment that connects the phenomenon of globalization with the national and cultural differences that characterize the countries in this economy. Next we will analyze, how to first define a strategy to enter foreign markets, select then a global company structure, and define a global marketing and pricing strategies. We will delve into some strategic and functional issues that characterize the management of organizations in the global marketplace.

International Marketing (MKTG 45060) - The course provides a comprehensive overview of international marketing issues characterizing international companies in foreign markets. It will introduce students to the international markets and the principles underlying the development and implementation of marketing strategies across and within foreign countries. Topics include: political, cultural, and legal environmental changes as new competitive challenges for companies involved in international businesses, international marketing strategies (domestic market expansion, multi-domestic marketing, and global marketing), multicultural marketing researches, international segmentation and competitive positioning, and international marketing mix in terms of product, distribution, communication and price decisions. During lessons the students are expected to prepare, present their views, and actively participate in classroom. In order to facilitate their participation, lessons include discussions of cases and the viewing of videos on international marketing experiences. The course is designed to stimulate curiosity about international marketing practices of companies, which seek global market opportunities and to raise the student's consciousness about the importance of an international marketing perspective in the international business management.

Hospitality Management & Tourism

Introduction to Global Tourism (RPTM 26060) Introduction to travel and tourism around the world, including tourism technologies, cultural and natural environments as attractions, benefits of travel ethics and sustainable development.

Sport in Global Perspective (SPAD 45024)Students critically analyze how sport relates to general features of globalization and the connection between global and local politics (including ethnic, religious, gender, environmental and sociospacial politics). The underlying assumption is that sport is part of a growing network of global interdependencies that bind human beings together.