AIFS Partnership Programs: Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium
not your school?

Florence, Italy

Spring 2018


Santa Rosa Junior College

Humanities 7: Introduction to the Humanities
3 units
Florence is one of the world's great living museums for the humanistic tradition, and this course will steep us in the riches of Florentine culture: pictorial art, sculpture, architecture, history, and (not least) cuisine.  Where else can we read the Bible story of David and Goliath in the morning, then walk out in an afternoon to view Michelangelo's famous statue of David, and compare it to Donatello's David?  Or study the representation of the Virgin Mary in the New Testament, and then survey three centuries worth of paintings of the Virgin in the Uffizi gallery?  Our emphasis will be on how the religious and political contexts of Florence in the Renaissance—Christianity, and republican politics—manifest themselves across the range of Florentine culture.  The course will include numerous field trips around Florence and to other major local sites such as Fiesole. Course work will be designed to take maximum advantage of students' exposure to the Florentine and larger European setting; it will be built around each student's with a number of self-selected works of art from various media—the visual arts, film, music, dance, literature, and/or philosophy—culminating in a final project that will represent a synthesis and integration of their semester's experience. 

English 1B: Literature and Composition
3 Units
This course introduces students to major literary genres—poetry, the essay, drama, and the novel—and emphasizes skills in interpretative analysis and critical writing.  We will read some Italian prose and poetry in translation, including selections from two great Florentines, Machiavelli and Dante. For these writers, we will use the resources of Florence to explore the ways in which great literature is shaped by its historical and geographical setting.  Florence will also provide an apt context for how literary forms and their relevance evolve over time, and as they travel to new places.  We'll read the 14th century Tuscan poet Francesco Petrarch, the first great sonneteer, and we'll follow the evolution of the courtly love tradition that Petrarch practically invents through the sonnets of Shakespeare, and modern and contemporary English and American poets who are keeping alive the sonnet form.  The artistic resources of Florence will enrich our study, enabling comparative analysis of major themes—romantic and erotic love, for example—in literature and in painting.  Finally, we will read E.M. Forster's novel of Florentine tourism, A Room With a View, and use it to reflect on our own experiences as visitors to Florence.

English 9: Contemporary World Literature
3 Units
"We are dependent, for understanding, and for consolation and hope, upon what we learn of ourselves from songs and stories. This has always been so, and it will not change." That's the American writer Wendell Berry speaking, and the truth of what he says is the premise of this course.  Living and studying in Florence gives us a rare and precious opportunity to see how Berry's wisdom applies on a global level, and speaks to how we rely on a global literary tradition—shared stories, songs, dramas, poems—to make sense of the world, and our individual and collective lives in the world. Our purpose in this course will be to make that turn to the literary conscious, so that we can reflect on it critically and meaningfully, and in so doing seek to understand London, the contemporary world, and ourselves, more fully and clearly.  As texts we may use either the Norton or Bedford anthology of world literature.

Contra Costa Community College District

POLS 220: Comparative Politics
3 Units
Comparative Politics is the ideal course for study abroad. Its objective is to examine a cross section of political communities and ask twin questions: How does a country organize its politics? And then: Why are politics organized that way?  When taught in the United States, of necessity, this course leans heavily on the students' familiarity with American politics, as it is often the only system that students have ever experienced.  The benefit of Study Abroad is the opportunity for students to experience another system, first hand.  Comparison is most effective when the students are familiar with the concepts being compared.  American students are familiar with concepts like Liberty or Individualism, which are native to them and quintessentially American. A student's presence in Italy, will give them opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Italian and European perspectives on those (and many other) concepts.  How do Italians understand, value and express liberty in their political life?  Discussions that in the US would be distant and abstract will come to life, infused with the students' immediate personal experiences.  Florence offers the opportunity to accomplish this with nearly every aspect of this course.  There is no better way to take this course than in a study abroad setting.

POLS 250: Introduction to International Relations
3 Units
In International Relations we ask: "Why do countries do what they do?"  Our goal is to understand the behavior of states.  We introduce and use concepts to understand this question in theoretical, and then practical terms. When taught at home in the US, our application of these concepts is somewhat constrained.  Typically, because of the students' familiarity with and exposure to US behavior, we apply the concepts to unfolding events, and then to the behavior of the United States.  That is far from ideal as the concepts are intended to have much broader explanatory power.  Being present in Europe, and with access to European media, students will have the tools to apply the concepts to the behavior of European states generally and to Italy specifically.   As an example:  How would Italy respond to a terrorist attack?  Our curriculum will present concepts that political scientists find useful in considering policy options.  As Americans, the students will no doubt have contemplated this question.  They will likely be familiar with policy choices Americans have debated and pursued.  We will examine those and then explore the Italian and European policies chosen to address the same problem.  Where there are differences, we will explore what accounts for them, doing the same for commonalities. In Florence, the opportunities are limitless.  We will be surrounded by people with ideas about globalization, trade, immigration, climate change, war and peace that are, for Americans, quite novel.  Being exposed to them will dramatically improve our ability to make sense of them.

SOCSC 123: American Popular Culture
3 Units
American Popular Culture (In Comparative Perspective) Why teach a course that focuses on an American theme?  For American students studying in Florence this course is the perfect vehicle to make the most their presence there.  This course opens the doors to many exciting opportunities to take what Italy offers and bring it into the classroom.  The objective of this course is to understand and appreciate the influence Popular Culture has had on American society.  The best way to appreciate your own culture is to step outside that culture and regard it from a new perspective.  A sojourn in Florence provides the perfect opportunity to do that.  At the same time the course project offers students the opportunity immerse themselves in the sub-culture of their choice.  We will survey several popular culture types/genres: Literary culture; Theatrical culture; Musical culture; visual culture; Electronic culture; Sports; Advertising.    While learning about their own culture, its origins and influences, in Florence they will have the opportunity to explore Italian & European culture and consider how American Pop Culture differs from the culture that surrounds them.

Los Rios Community College District

PSYC 305: Psychology Applied to Modern Life
3 Units
This course explores human behavior, emphasizing the practical aspects of psychology in everyday life utilizing both psychological theory and research. Topics include personality, stress and coping, self-understanding, communication, changes across our lifespan, impact of social groups, interpersonal relationships, gender, sexuality, psychological disorders and their treatment, personality, and positive psychology.  This class is an excellent opportunity to both learn and practice research based tools toward improved physical and mental health including effective approaches to conflict resolution, interpersonal communication, and stress management.  Students will have the opportunity in this class to evaluate their own coping strategies for dealing with stress and to try new strategies for improved health and wellbeing.  We will also discuss cultural influences on interpersonal attraction, development of self-concept and self-esteem, and healthy and unhealthy behavioral patterns.  Additionally, we will look at the role society and culture play in the development of our personal values and how those values impact our life and choices.  This class includes assignments that require personal reflection and the application of the research based theories that we will be learning throughout the course to their lives in Italy.  Taking this class while on a study abroad program gives students the unique opportunity to evaluate how they have been shaped by the culture in which they live and how looking at themselves through the lens of another culture can gives them the opportunity to expand and challenge their self-concept and grow in interesting and healthy ways.

PSYC 356: Human Sexuality
3 Units
This course has a multicultural emphasis and an integrated theme in this course is on understanding the role of culture in terms of its impact on topics in sexuality as varied as: anatomy and physiology, reproductive health issues, intimate partner violence, concepts of beauty, culturally based gender norms, social media influences, communication within relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, and many more topics.  We will discuss commonalities and differences between Italy and the U.S. from historical, physiological, cultural, sociological, psychological, and legal perspectives.  This course provides students with a solid base of factual, research based, up-to-date, nonjudgmental information about sex, sexuality, and relationships.  Course content is designed to enhance application of critical thinking skills to understanding sexuality, dynamics of relationships, and effective communication strategies in a way that will help students be able to identify potential relationship problems and determine effective solutions throughout their lives.  As students' live in Florence their understanding of the Italian community will enhance discussions related to cultural similarities and differences in many of the topics covered in this course. 

PSYC 361: Psychology of Women in a Multicultural Society
3 Units
This course introduces students to topics related to the impact of sex and gender on women's lives.  From a research based perspective we will cover a variety of topics including the biological bases of sex, impact of gender throughout the lifespan, societal representations of women in the media, and gender stereotypes and their connections to gender roles and expectations. The course will address topics related to women's racial and ethnic identity development across diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as issues related to privilege and oppression.  Students will have the opportunity to investigate the issues and resources available to women in Italy related to topics such as physical and mental health, sexual and reproductive health, violence against women, education, employment and working environments, sexual development and family structures.  We will address the similarities and differences in the cultures and sociocultural pressures on the development of women in the United States and Italy and the impact they have on women within a larger global context.  Living in Italy while taking this course provides students with a greater depth of understanding of the role that culture and local traditions play in gender related issues.  The value of this educational experience surpasses anything they can experience from a textbook or as a passing tourist in Italy.   Students will be applying what we are learning in the classroom to what they are experiencing in their daily lives in Italy!

San Mateo County Community College District

FILM 122: Study Abroad Focus on Film History
4 units
Focus on Italian Neorealism. Critical investigation of key films made in Italy at the end of World War II, which were made in response to the socio-economic-political, conditions afflicting Italian society.  Directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Luchino Visconti used this war torn Italian landscape as their canvas.  Working with nonprofessional actors and small budgets, they cultivate an influential realist aesthetic.

FILM 130: Study Abroad Focus on Film Directors
4 Units
Critical survey of key works of major Italian film directors (which may include Pier Paolo Pasolini, Lina Wertmüller, Michelangelo Antonioni, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Nanni Moretti, Matteo Garrone, and Paolo Sorrentino and others) Emphasis on auteur theory, biography, film style and visionary contributions to film history.

FILM 140: Study Abroad Course Focus on Contemporary Cinema
4 Units
 Survey of the latest generation of Italian films, filmmakers, and movements with emphasis on historical context and the context of globalization.