By Jessica Rowe
Photo courtesy of FUA
Italian Civilization and Culture is a three week field-learning course that takes students through Northern, Southern, and Central Italy. It is a sociology course cross-listed with field learning, Italian cultural studies, art history, anthropology, history, food and culture, and geography. Starting in Milan, then traveling through Venice, Naples, Rome, and many more cities before ending in Florence, the course aims to give students the ability to analyze, describe, and experience Italian culture.
Prof. Umberto Gori, who taught this course in Summer 2017, says that the focus is on the multifaceted culture of Italy. The country is not one, uniform culture but instead a powerful mix of different ones that coexist and contribute to create an overall Italian culture that is rich and vibrant. Geography and historical context effect the customs from one city to a next, forming many “Italies” to study and explore. Through field-learning, he says, all the departments related to the course are examined. Students can see and feel how the climate changes from city to city, covering the geography portion. Art history is studied but students are also asked to think about how an art piece’s subject would interest the people of the time and how that subject effects present day people differently. Because Italy has a wide variety of cuisines, food and culture students find themselves with new flavors and dishes to experience in every city. Sociology, of course, is seen in how the actions and lives of people change from the urban areas to the smaller towns. Prof. Gori indicates these differences but it is up to the students pay attention to their environment. The goal of the course is to show that Italy is not a typical country and that, while it’s true it’s beautiful, it also has a dark side. Through this course, he hopes students will learn that Italy has more to offer than its past.
In just three weeks, this course takes students through more than ten cities. The traveling can be tiring but is always balanced out with half days of rest. Though it may seem fast-paced, the course engages students and shows them plenty, making it a well-rounded experience of Italy. Prof. Gori believes its important for students to have time to explore on their own as well and to do many of the same things that native Italians do for fun. This course allows students to see that cultural diversity is not something to be afraid of, as it makes the country richer.
On-site fieldwork and assessments are conducted daily. These cultural debriefing sessions are Prof. Gori’s favorite part of the course because he gets to ask students about their experiences, opinions, and feelings. He says he learns just as much from the students as they do from him.
Italian Civilization and Culture is a 6-credit course offered during FUA’s Summer Session II. Pre-course research is required and the on-site experience involves daily assignments and assessments. Throughout the course, basic Italian vocabulary and phrases are taught and practiced. Students are advised to pack lightly for this once in a lifetime opportunity to explore all of Italy with one of the best guides that could be asked for.
Future editions of the course at FUA can be consulted at the academic schedule of courses.