Summer Study in Florence, Italy | Webster University

Summer Study in Florence, Italy

Chloe and Ryan in Florence 

Photo Credit to: Webster Student Chloe Costa and Ryan Green

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Aeronautics & Engineering 

Physiology and Human Factors of Flight (AERN 45130)This course provides a study of the interaction of the human body with flight and those human factors that affect flight operations. 

Aviation Safety Theory(AERN 45153) - This course provides an introduction to safety theories, models, and systems. This will include discussion about specific accidents and applications of those theories and models to real-life situations.  

Introduction to Sustainability (TECH 27210)This course introduces the concepts of sustainability and its three pillars: economic growth, environmental protection, and social equality.  After completing this course, students will understand the language and concepts of sustainability and will acquire knowledge to further study sustainability.  This is a required course for the Sustainability minor.  

Architecture & Environmental Design 

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.

 Art & Culture 

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.

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.

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.


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.

Nationalism and Globalism in the Age of Media (COMM 4509) - The goal of this course is to introduce and discuss images, signs, symbols, cultural media products, personal and collective identities that emerge and circulate through mundane engagement with the global and the national media forms. We will explore the media and communication studies literature and will critically problematize the significant ontological concepts such as the local, the national, the transnational, and the global, and their usage in the scholarly literature.

Law of Mass Communication (JMC 40006) - This course will help develop 1) an understanding of how the law affects mass media and its practitioners, 2) an ability to identify legal issues and apply your knowledge to specific situations likely confronted by working professionals, 3) an appreciation of the history and role that the First Amendment and other protections for free expression and press freedom play in a diverse American society and how those protections differ from those in other countries around the world. After completing this course, you should be able to identify the basic parameters of First Amendment protection including the key legal limitations on free speech and press freedom. You should also be able to take steps to enforce your legal rights and protect yourself from legal constraints and understand some of the debate over media law protections across the globe.

EHHS: School of Foundations, Leadership, and Administration

Education in a Democratic Society (CULT 29535) - This course is a conversation about the many purposes of schooling in our society, the political pressure increasingly placed on schools to improve the quality of American education, and the challenges new teachers face in increasingly high pressured school environments. The course begins with a brief historical overview of the many purposes of schooling in the U.S. We explore the emergence and development of the common school, with a view to understanding the accomplishments, shortcomings and aspirations of public schooling. We then turn our attention to contemporary efforts to reform American education. We will try to understand what these efforts hope to accomplish. In the second half of the course, the class will become an educational think tank which consults with school districts and advises them on aspects of district policy and practice that will need to change in light of these school reform initiatives. This part of the course is highly participatory, because the think tank has to research the issue in question, deliberate about the issues in question, and come to a collective decision about what the school district ought to do about the issue at hand.

Hotel Operations (HM 23030) 

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.


Writing Beyond Borders: A Literacy Conversation -  This course 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. Joining ranks with John Keats, Lord Byron, Edith Wharton, and Henry James, we will take our inspiration from the deep literary conversations between Italian and English-speaking writers. As a travel writer the world will be both your oyster and your classroom. From Santa Croce to the Arno, sonnets to arias we'll experience Florence through the tips of our pencils. Create a personal travelogue that will fully capture your time in Italy and provide you with memories to last a lifetime. No previous creative writing experience is necessary.

Special Topics in Cultural Studies/ WMST 40195 Special Topics in Women's Studies III: Adoption and Adaption: Florence Feminism and English Literature in Film (ENG 39995) - Florence has long been a haven for British and American feminist discourse and debate over questions ranging from gender roles to sexuality, from anti-feminism and anti-anti-feminism to male-centricity and womanism. This course will explore the feminist debate through stories, plays, novels, autobiographies and films—some composed by women and others composed by men, all composed in English by British, American, or Italian artists. The course will cover movements and genres from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 18th - 21st centuries.


Italian Fashion and Culture (FDM 35901): We will examine the evolution of the fashion industry in Italy and the long tradition of art, craftsmanship, style and design that led to the success of the post-war era. Study of the history, creators, design and production processes with emphasis on the role of Florence and Florentine designers. The class will conclude with a consideration of contemporary issues in the Italian fashion industry. The lectures are supplemented by site visits and field trips to museums, artisans and factories.

Italian Study Tour (45592): The course aims to explore and develop a critical awareness on fashion trends in Italy. It focuses on the major centers of Italian fashion business showing and analyzing where the trends are displayed, who are the trendsetters, and how the trends are spread eventually becoming a reality. On-site visits to major Italian fashion centers are a vital component of the course. Places to be explored include: design and fashion houses, small and medium fashion firms, showrooms, fashion archives, ateliers, workshops, private and public museums and collections, art galleries, retail stores, buying offices, and other areas of the fashion industry and Italian art and culture. Visits to art exhibitions will provide a broad idea of the social changes occurring and how artists reflects or anticipate these trends that will then influence fashion. In class introductory lectures give students the tools to face on site visits with a critical approach, follow up meetings based on critical discussions, debates, oral and written reports, presentations allow to share the knowledge. Through seminars professional guest speakers will deepen specific topics of interest


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.


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.

Philosophy & Politics

Italian Law, Courts, and Justice in the Global World Order (POL)This course uses the story of Amanda Knox, an American citizen who was prosecuted in Italy after she was accused of murder but later released, as a template to understand and compare the underlying politics of the Italian and U.S. legal systems. After analyzing world legal systems and the Italian and U.S. Constitutions, it explores each country’s respective judicial systems and legal professions while investigating how Italian and U.S. courts use inquisitorial and adversarial principles to deliver justice in criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits. The course concludes by examining how the U.S. Supreme Court interact with the other courts in the global world order, such as Italy’s Constitutional Court, the International Criminal Court, and the European Court of Human Rights.

The Settler Colonial Present (POL) - This course examines theories of Settler Colonialism as well as compares cases from North America (US), Europe (Italy) Africa (Zimbabwe & South Africa), and the Middle East (Israel). Settler Colonialism originates out of the legal systems of Europe when as colonizing powers they sought to protect their citizens in distant lands. Over time, European power went beyond standard colonialism (working with colonized leaders to extract resources while opening up and exploiting new markets) by seeking to extend Europe into non-European states by using European settlers to apply a logic of elimination and replace the native populations in these locales. Older settler colonial states seemed to have achieved their mission in states like the US, Canada, and Australia. Late-comers (end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th Century) to settler colonialism have been less successful. Italy had at least three settler colonial experiments in Libya, Ethiopia, and Somalia end in failure. Insurgents evicted the French from Algeria and the British from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. Israel continues its settler colonial project in historic Palestine. Yet, settler colonialism is not a relic of the past. It is a part of our contemporary politics. The invasion of settler colonial attempts is a structure, not an event. Systems designed with a settler colonial framework express pathologies that manifest similarly and differently from one another in today’s societies, economies, and politics. The purpose of this course is to compare and contrast these cases as a way of learning about the legacies and lived experiences of these transnational politic projects. Thus, we will emphasize and learn not just how the settler colonizer changed a place but how it also changed the contemporary practices of the country of origin.


Brain Health and Disease: Mediterraneans vs Western Lifestyle (BSCI) - 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.

Faces: Human Head Anatomy with a Forensic Art (ANTH FACES)  -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

Ecology and Natural History of Mediterranean Ecosystems (BSCI) 

Ecology and Natural History of Mediterranean Ecosystems (BSCI) - The Mediterranean Biome has unique plant and animal life that thrives in the dry summers and moderate winters. In this course, plants and animals and the ecology of the Mediterranean biome will be explored. We will study the processes that govern natural Mediterranean ecosystems, and then explore how human activities are impacting those processes. The course will be based in understanding the factors that shape-up the biological diversity and how biotic interactions affect ecological processes.

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.

Emotions, Culture & Health (PSYC): In this class, we will investigate the science of emotions and health as well as the broader role that emotions play in society. In particular, we will participate in a century-old debate as to the underlying nature of emotion: biological vs. cultural.  We will investigate the evidence outside of the classroom by observing people in the world as well as representations of emotion in culture, visiting museums and well-known tourist destinations. Our primary goal: to resolve this debate based on evidence accumulated throughout the course during readings, in-class discussion, and outside class observation.