Semester Course Descriptions


  • Cell Biology

    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.

  • City of Vaccines: The Pharmaceutical Traditions of Siena

    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.

  • Flavors and Tastes: An Italian Chemical World

    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.

  • Italian Prehistory: Research methods and study of the replacement of the Neanderthal by Homo sapiens

    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.

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