- About Siena Italian Studies
- Accreditation & Certification
- Educational Approach
- Siena, Italy
- Siena Semester Program
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- European Students
- Customized Opportunities
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Our course descriptions are divided in to five basic course categories. Please note that actual course offerings vary each semester based on student demand.
All students are required to take Italian Language, the Intercultural Reflections Seminar and 2-3 content courses depending on home institution requirements.
Please feel free to inquire about course availability. All of our courses are accredited by Portland State University (PSU).
(75 total hours) All students, whether beginners, intermediate or advanced, begin their Siena Italian Studies experience with our Three Week Intensive Italian Language Course. After an entrance exam, students are placed in appropriate levels and participate every day in classes and activities designed to develop all linguistic abilities, from the basic (listening, reading, writing, speaking) to the integrated (responding to questions, note-taking, transcodification). A wide variety of teaching materials is used, including the Program’s own textbook, Dimmi Tutto!, to allow each student to best identify and develop his or her abilities. Students also interact with the city environment and help to create their own Italian language study materials. Once a week, students and teachers discuss the dynamics of language learning and the teaching methods used.
(8 hrs/week) Following the Three Week Intensive Italian Course, students are placed in the appropriate level and continue to study Italian language 2 hours a day, 4 days a week for the duration of the semester. Classes include a variety activities linked to experiences in the city, student presentations, discussions, videos, quizzes, and writing assignments, as well as the study of specific aspects of Italian grammar. The intermediate and advanced levels provide a complete study of grammatical and communicative structures using materials that are varied in both content and type.
(45 total contact hours) This course will analyze some of the fundamental themes present in Italian literature during the contemporary period: love, political consciousness, the search for freedom and the creation of an identity. The themes will be presented through the reading of various passages from such authors as: Ungaretti, Montale, Saba and Luzi and short stories from authors such including Ginzburg and Moravia. Students will learn how the works are constructed and how language has evolved by comparing one author to another and discussing the themes presented.
Prerequisite: B1 or intermediate level of Italian
(45 total contact hours) The course will analyze a theme that has been a foundation of Italian literature from the medieval period to the contemporary one: the love story, with the woman often considered as an angel and inspirational muse. This theme will be presented through the reading of some of the most poetic works, from Dante to Saba, and from Petrarch to Montale. This reflection will also be accompanied by the study of some pieces by modern and contemporary authors on the existential crises of the modern man, from Pirandello to Calvino, from Svevo to Tabucchi.
Prerequisite: B1 or intermediate level of Italian
(45 total contact hours) The aim of this course is both literary and linguistic as well as to speed up the students’ process in learning the Italian language. The class provides an expansive and in-depth overview of modern Italian literature compared to major American writers whose style will also be analyzed. Moreover, these translations (esercizi di stile) from Italian into English will give the instrumental support necessary for students during their cultural experience abroad to improve technically their writing style, to edit a translation, and to master an Italian dictionary. All sections place major emphasis on analysis of modern Italian authors and their methodology exploring also the various techniques used including a comparative analysis between Italian and American literature. After a brief introduction to the real meaning of translation the course will focus on the beginning of Italian language with a great emphasis on local and national history. We will discuss the history of Italian dialects and its linguistic implication in the passage from Latin to the vulgate (a mix of the Florentine dialect and Latin). The discussion of some key issues of literary studies (such as poetic translation, Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, the role of dialects and European artistic movements) will be linked to their American cultural contamination or influence. Moreover, we will discuss the main cultural debates concerning the melting pot in literature, inter-culture, translation and multiculturalism.
Prerequisite: B1 or intermediate level of Italian
(45 total contact hours) This course, for students who have at least an elementary knowledge of Latin, proposes an essential overview of Latin literature from its origins to its decline. We read texts in Latin and in Italian translation matched to students level that allow us to study not only the morphology and syntax of Latin and Italian, but also many little-known aspects of Roman civilization, such as its beliefs and superstitions. The course establishes connections between Latin and Italian, highlighting the origins, evolution and autonomy of the Italian language and culture. Related to this, we compare some Latin texts with modern Italian works (for example, Petronius’ Satyricon compared with Fellini’s cinematic version). The course challenges students with both written and oral exams. It includes readings from such authors as Plautus, Cicero, Lucretius, Seneca, Petronius, Tacitus and St. Augustine.
(1 hr/week) All SIS students participate in this course. Meeting one hour a week, the Intercultural Reflections Seminar allows and encourages students to reflect upon all aspects of their experience abroad and, in particular, link observations from their community service work, interactions with host families and language exchange partners to in-class projects and papers. Students will be invited to document their observations and reflections made during the week in their journals and then discuss them in this informal setting with the instructor and their fellow students. This is an essential opportunity to process and make sense of students’ varied experiences during the semester. The goal is to develop a reflective consciousness that is the path for the development of intercultural competence. In the Intercultural Reflections Seminar sessions students are at the center of the acquisition process. Knowledge is built through the constant sharing and discussion of the entries with peers. The teacher’s role will be to guide and supervise the sharing of the entries. The teacher will also have to identify appropriate input at the right time in an effort to constantly make the discussion relevant and pertinent to what is taught/learned in the Institutions in Society course.
(45 total contact hours) After a brief study of the formation of Italian as a national language, this course will analyze the movements, changes and the many dramatic transformations that came about in the language during the course of the Twentieth century. We look at and compare geographical variations (Standard Italian, dialects, regionalisms, ethno-linguistic minorities, Italian outside Italy and the Italian spoken by immigrants in Italy), as well as variations within society (popular vs. cultured Italian, jargon/slang, juvenile language, gender-specific Italian, specialized language), context-based variations (registers, functional/contextual variations) and variations found in different forms of the language (written, spoken and transmitted language). Students participate in fieldwork projects based on their areas of interest.
The course analyzes the modern and contemporary history of this country through its music (melodies, voices, lyrics, traditional dances, socio-historical and political context). Original songs coming from different areas of Italy will be first analyzed from a linguistic point of view; then they will be contextualised into the socio-political framework that generated them.
(45 total contact hours) This course focuses on the most important Italian cinematic movement, Neo-realism, and includes discussion of the practical aspects of filmmaking. In the first part of the course, we watch and discuss the principle neo-realist films, presenting the historical period and overviews of each director’s production while analyzing structure, storyline, protagonists, etc.
The second part concentrates on the masterpieces of one of the great Italian directors, Luchino Visconti. After learning about the main characteristics of his work and comparing him to other important Italian directors like Fellini and Antonioni, we analyze, compare and contrast his most significant films. During the course, we will discuss themes relating to the planning and realization of films, including screenwriting, acting and cinematography. In addition, students may participate in seminars offered by Italian directors currently working in the film industry in Rome.
Students are asked to write two short papers during the course. Films are shown in Italian and accompanied by the instructor’s explanations.
(45 total contact hours) With music at its core, this course examines the economic, cultural, and artistic mechanisms that brought on Renaissance culture in Tuscany, and on the rhetoric of power and politics in the economy and in the arts, both then and today. We will make comparisons between the financial climate of the Renaissance and Baroque eras on the one hand, and the economic crisis of our time on the other. We will look at how painting, literature, and music were affected by the economic climate hundreds of year ago, and how the same economic forces may be shaping the artistic climate in modern times.
(45 total contact hours) This course aims to stimulate the personal creativity of each student, allowing them to express themselves through their artistic notions. During the semester, students will develop aesthetic sensibility through their interpretations of contemporary Tuscan society, and of Sienese society in particular. The student will also be made familiar with local artistic culture through visits and guest lectures featuring local artisans. Students will work with various artistic materials and in various genres in the creation of a series of projects that will then be displayed at the conclusion of the semester. The course is designed to inspire admiration for originality or contemporary works, as well as the value of historical works in their respective contexts.
(45 total contact hours) This course is designed for students who are interested business and legislative Italian language and aims to provide students with the basic vocabulary and professional expressions that are most often used in Italian business and legal interactions. After identifying the basic technical vocabulary and expressions, the student is helped to assimilate them through targeted exercises and discussions. Throughout the course, students will also discuss various aspects of the business and legislative structures in Italy as well as visit various local offices and conduct interviews with relevant figures.
(45 total contact hours) The course aims to show the student a more ethical and solidarity-based “use” of finance, which today no longer corresponds to the “moral” sense of market economy but is too often seen in the speculative sense instead of a motor of real economy. Through a general historic overview on the birth of economy and finance, tracing the foundations and the main objectives of banks (the bank of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, for example, was one of the first banks ever founded), we’ll arrive at studying the corrective measures that can be taken to counter-act credit aberrations through visits to and lessons on “ethical” structures that have the specific objective to assist, finance and support the people and the ideas for which profit is not the only goal of market economy.
The general part course concentrates on the issues related to the globalization and its development over human history, and how the concept of time and space has been changing through the centuries, our economic perception of Goods Capital and People. Without such a radical change (either cultural or technological) the Market Economy network wouldn’t reach such a global extension. On top of that, the relationship between cyberspace and virtual economy will be explored and the peculiarity between the Internet and the global financialization of stock market will be analyzed.
The specific part of the course is devoted to the European integration, with a strong focus on economic and business developments. The European Union with almost 500 million citizens faces serious challenges in its role as a major player in the global economy. After a brief historical overview, students will be introduced to several core issues on European institutional asset, economic politics, and decision-making processes.
The course aims to examine the development of accounting in the Italian context and in the European Union. The course content will cover the period from the Middle Ages until the current days, affording also some specific sub-areas such as Accounting History, Accounting & Banks and Accounting & Art.
The topic will be extended also to international accounting and it will be focused on the analysis of the processes of standardization and harmonization and the introduction of the IAS/IFRS in the European Union.
A large portion of the lessons will be devoted to international accounting institutions and particularly to the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The course will examine the rules issued by the European Union to endorse the IFRS.
The course uses interactive methods aimed at transmitting skills, abilities and attitudes which encourage learning and teamwork.
This course is principally designed for undergraduate students studying Italian as a foreign language that have an interest in Cell Biology. A background in Biology is desirable although the syllabus targets individuals with little or no knowledge of the subject. The course is focused on basic aspects of Cell Biology ranging from a study of cell structure, function and molecular organization, while learning about the tradition of science and the school of medicine in Siena and its relevance in the social background of this ancient city.
As part of the program will explore basic aspects of Plant Biology, during some of the lectures, on-site visits to the Dept of Plant Biology and the Botanic Garden will be organized; On-site visits will also be organized to the Museum of Natural History of the old Accademia dei Fisiocritici and to the famous Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala;
The final objective of the course is to enable students to confidently and creatively express principal ideas and scientific concepts in the target language. Lessons are primarily held in Italian (target language). At the beginning of each new topic, a portion of the lesson will aim to build up the new vocabulary in order to facilitate lessons. However, more complex readings might be done in English and coupled with comprehension activities in the target language to balance the learning process that will be regularly monitored with specifically designed class activities.
The objective of this course is to acquire an awareness of scientific skills and attitudes, while developing a critical interpretation of theoretical concepts on the field.This course will provide the students with general knowledge of pharmaceutical principles but the main aim is to apply them on the job with different types of simulations. We will accompany the student on a brief but complete voyage through the pharmaceutical world within the Siena city network. Particular focus will be on the influence of the historical background of Siena (Sclavo/Novartis pharmaceutical company), as well as Siena’s famous artistic and naturalistic patrimony. An important aim of the course is to present the typical scientific life experience, attempting to create a personal and critical view of the pharmaceutical world. In their personal journals, students will elaborate their judgment, developing ideas, doubts, and thoughts to be discussed in classroom at the beginning of each lesson for a dedicated time.
This course combines passion and science. Tuscany is a land of flavors and tastes, rich in typical products coming from our traditions. But food is also our energy, composed by substances with different properties and characteristics. Day by day students will increase their awareness of food usage and its properties. Food will be analyzed starting from its composition and chemical structure to its usage in everyday life, not forgetting its application in special diets. Students will be involved in the creation of their own diet that reflects to their individual needs and imagination. Students will create numerous alternatives to their usual menus, respecting a healthy balance of chemical compounds. Starting from theory we shall involve students in practical exercises, visiting sites of food production and distribution. Practical sessions will involve the experience of working in a vegetable garden, visiting vineyards and chemical labs for analyses. The objective of this course is to acquire awareness of scientific skills and attitudes, developing a scientific interpretation of theoretical concepts on the field. This course will provide the students with general knowledge of chemical structure and power of food through the observation and analysis of its main compounds. We will accompany the student on a brief but complete journey through traditional cooking in Siena, exploring the influence of Siena’s rich gastronomic history. The final aim of the course is to integrate different culture types of alimentation combining healthy habits with scientific knowledge.
The course aims to direct the students into the set of problems relevant to Italian archaeological research in order to obtain theoretical knowledge of the methodological and technical fundamentals of Archaeology. The contribution of the scientific disciplines to archaeological studies (geomorphology, sedimentology, paleobotanics, zooarchaeology and so on) and methods of collecting, quantification and documentation of the archaeological finds will be described. The course focuses on the studies carried out by the Research Unit of Prehistory and Anthropology of Siena. This institution has been involved for many years in the investigations of the earliest migration of Homo sapiens into southern Europe and of the replacement of the Neanderthal by the Anatomical Modern Human. To the students attending the course will be offered the possibility to visit the laboratories of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Physical Sciences of University of Siena.
The World Health Organization has recently shown that about 80% of the world
population uses plants as a main, if not exclusive, source of therapeutics. This course aims to guide students in the acquisition of the basic elements of phytotherapy.
Phytotherapy is the branch of medicine that studies the use of medicinal plants capable of producing a pharmacological effect. With this regard, the city of Siena hosts innovative research institutes such as the seat of the National Society of Phytotherapy (S.I.Fit – Societa’ Italiana di Fitoterapia) as well as museums and academies of renowned traditions such as the Academy of Sciences (Accademia dei Fisiocritici) and the Botanical Gardens of the University of Siena. During the course students will learn about the main plant- based active ingredients, as well as the methods utilized for their extraction and their effects on the organism through theoretical lessons and simple lab activities carried out inside the research or museum sites. Special attention will be given to the description of the common uses of the plant extracts and to their examination from a scientific perspective.
Within the region of Tuscany one can find all of the three main climates and environments most common of the Italian peninsula: the typical Mediterranean coastline, grasslands and valleys of a more continental character and the Apennine peaks with a mountain climate. Numerous and diverse are the animal and plant species that are found in these areas. Within the city of Siena there are academic institutions and museums that represent a true “window” which opens onto the Tuscany territory. The frontal lessons of this class will serve to give the student a general picture of the common flora and fauna of Italy, which will then be further illustrated through practical activities included in the course.
In these practical sessions the student will be introduced in the activities of a research center or a museum, actively participating in the consultation and even the preparation and management of the naturalistic collections.
This course will analyze the main issues related to Sustainable Development, based on the idea that no growth process can be considered authentically sustainable without considering the interactions between the evolution of the economic system and the evolution of the natural environment. Only after a careful analysis of traditional economic theory, of ethical issues and of the contributions of ecology and thermodynamics, will it be possible to define the importance of safeguarding the stock of natural capital and the need for a transition from the traditional approach linked to the concept of growth to the new approach oriented towards sustainable development. We will also briefly present the international debate, both in official institutions, such as the UN (with UN 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals) and the European Union, and in civil society. Everything will be seen in a positive light, thanks also to the presentation of the case studies of Siena and Tuscany, taken as a feasible and exportable example of a virtuous relationship between community and territory. In this analysis we will try to clearly highlight the three economic functions of the environment: that of a supplier of resources, that of a receiver of waste and that of a direct source of utility. An important sustainability indicator, the Ecological Footprint, will also be presented with the aim of measuring the sustainability of our economy on the basis of the study of the impacts it causes on the environment. The course will be completed by excursions, service-learning activities, visits and meetings with important local organizations that will present us with studies, projects and good practices present in our territory.