Contributed by Dr. Andrea De Maria and Audrey Rehberg, Department of Consumer Sciences at Purdue University
Photo courtesy of FUA
As the Fall 2017 academic season begins in Florence, a recently concluded summer research study abroad program reports positive results for an ongoing women’s health in Italy project involving the Public Health graduate program and the Department of Consumer Science at Purdue University.
During Summer 2017 Purdue University collaborated with Florence University of the Arts (FUA) to facilitate an immersive 7-week, 9-credit hour study abroad experience, led by Dr. Andrea DeMaria. This program provided 13 undergraduate students and 2 graduate students with a unique interdisciplinary, research-based learning experience. Students enrolled in courses instructed by both Purdue University and FUA faculty, interacted with students from around the world, engaged in remarkable learning opportunities, and experienced extraordinary global education through practical and cultural exposures.
Purdue University students completed FUA’s Cultural Introduction to Italy field experience and lecture course, where they learned about Italian history, culture, language, policy, cuisine, and much more. Additionally, they engaged in Directed Research Hours in Women’s Reproductive and Sexual Health, led by Dr. Andrea DeMaria from Purdue, which trained them in basic research practices (e.g., study conceptualization, qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, and manuscript and presentation composition, among others). These courses facilitated a complementary and reciprocal relationship, which further enhanced learning in both classrooms.
Students completed 46 one-on-one interviews with reproductive aged women during the study abroad period, where they discussed topics such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, health care access, and more. Web-based survey data collection is ongoing, with nearly 100 completed responses collected. As part of their course requirements students analyzed all data and composed research manuscripts, which were presented to their peers and FUA community members on August 1, 2017. This research and FUA partnership is ongoing, with plans to present and publish all research findings in various health-related avenues.
This study abroad opportunity allowed students to experience culture, health, and wellness through direct lectures, cultural immersion field experiences, site visits to health-related facilities and museums, and hands-on data collection. Ultimately, all 15 students walked away from this program with a deeper awareness of their own culture and Italian culture, and a knowledge base of how health and wellness are shaped by individual behaviors, community and social contexts, and local policies.