By Quincey Caldwell and Beatrice Ramasauskaite
Photo by Quincey Caldwell
At FUA-AUF, courses are designed to inspire and challenge students not only through the content they learn, but also through immersive and experience-oriented structures. In line with this vision for education, FUA-AUF is proud to announce the introduction of a new 3 credit course for Fall Semester 2019: Sacred Florence Walks.
Taught by Professor Lapo Bartalesi, Sacred Florence Walks explores how religion in the city has shaped its history, art, and society at large. While the topic of the course itself is interesting, among the greatest hallmarks of Sacred Florence Walks is how its learning environment differs from the conventional classroom setting. Rather than using traditional lectures and in-class exercises, Prof. Lapo Bartalesi leads his students to historical sites of Florence for a more direct and experiential method of learning.
Taking advantage of the unique opportunity to actually visit and explore the places discussed in class, this innovative class style encourages more active learning and participation than traditional settings. Each week, students are introduced to a theme that connects various monuments, religious sites, and structures throughout Florence. These explorations go beyond simple fact-learning, and instead encourage students to discover the depth of the connections between life and religion in the city. The unconventional classroom style gives students an opportunity to receive a hands-on education about the culture and history of Florence, learning about everything from social orders to small details about the city’s architecture. Complemented by further readings completed individually at home, Sacred Florence Walks provides a robust education that furthers students understanding of their host city.
However, Professor Bartalesi’s class goes beyond simply providing students with information. Students enrolled in the course are quick to note the more personal education that comes along with using the streets as a classroom. As many FUA-AUF students are participants in study abroad courses, lack of familiarity with their new environment can be disorienting and intimidating. Students who attended this course, though, attested to the unique opportunity it provides to gain a more intimate understanding of the city itself. By contextualizing their experiences with the culture and history of the city, Sacred Florence Walks is a course that educates the whole person.
Because of the course instructor’s passion and the unconventional structure, Sacred Florence Walks is a course that truly deepens the experience of studying in a foreign city, helping students to understand not only its history but also its modernity.