Rome exhibits layers of history going back over two millennia—Etruscan tombs, Republican meeting rooms, imperial temples, early Christian churches, medieval bell towers, Renaissance palaces, and baroque basilicas—but it is also a very modern, vibrant, multicultural city.
In this one locale, a phenomenal concentration of history, legend, and monuments coexists with an equally phenomenal concentration of people busily going about their everyday lives.
While tourists visit the Vatican, the Forum Romanum, and the Trevi Fountain, many visitors often miss the many other sights that make the whole of Rome a museum—a living museum with a population of three million, with rich art, literary, music, theatre, and culinary traditions.
About the Program
The HWS program in Rome, Italy utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to explore different aspects of Italian culture and society. While the program is designed to immerse students fully in the experience of being in Rome, excursions will provide a wider perspective on the history, culture, and daily life of Italy as a whole. Students will live in furnished flats, providing opportunities to develop their Italian language skills and to experience Roman daily life.
Courses and program-related activities are arranged through our affiliation with the Scuola Leonardo da Vinci, one of the leading language schools in Italy, and the Gustolab Institute.
Students take 2 required courses:
ITAL 102: Beginning Italian II (1 credit)
Offered through our partner institution, the Scuola Leonardo da Vinci, this course will build upon the foundation of Italian language study completed at HWS prior to the program. A variety of visits to local sites will complement in-class instruction and a series of “labs” will introduce students to various aspects of Italian culture and society. Students with more advanced Italian skills will be placed in an upper-level class.
The Art and Architecture of Italy (1 credit)
An overview of the art and architecture of Italy, from antiquity to the present day. The classroom will be the city of Rome, with visits to other locations tentatively including Florence and Venice. The goal of this class is to understand Italian art and architecture within historical and environmental contexts, rather than as autonomous subjects. Too often, students learn about buildings and art out of context, without understanding the historical conditions of their production, nor their physical situation. For example, many famous paintings, located in palaces or churches, are routinely reproduced in art books without any reference to their setting or context. Students will understand works within their specific historical and environmental contexts, and develop an understanding of the symbiosis between art and architecture.
Students choose 2 of the following electives:
Sustainable Rome (1 credit)
This course will examine Italian culture and society through the perspective of sustainability. Students will be introduced to Italy and its regional traditions and will explore contemporary issues of sustainability related to urban space, waste, energy, mobility, water, and agriculture with lessons devoted to the success of the Mediterranean diet, food production, distribution, and consumption, as well as the ways in which architecture and design of the built environment can contribute to (or impede) the preservation of cultural heritage
Rome will serve as a laboratory for studying urban sustainability in an increasingly urban world in which cities account for the vast majority of the world’s wealth and population growth, as well as its energy use. Amidst the clamor to redesign urban environments, we will look at not only technological solutions and “smart cities” strategies but also traditional approaches to improving social, economic, and environmental conditions. Other topics include new trends in urban agriculture, community gardens and activist movements such as “guerrilla gardening”, advanced integrated urban agriculture systems, and innovative projects that can deliver high-quality products and address problems of food security.
Through the course, students will develop a rich understanding of the operational technologies of cities and the impact these technologies have on our environment.
Restoration and Museological Practices in Italy (1 credit)
Italy has the world's greatest number of Unesco World Heritage Sites (49), which attracts millions of tourists every year, yet these sites present a formidable challenge in terms of their restoration and exhibition.
This course will first introduce students to the fundamental principles of modern restorations of works in painting, fresco, sculpture, paper and architecture through theory and practice. Students will visit Roman and Florentine restoration labs to see and speak first-hand with professionals who are entrusted with the restoration and preservation of Italian masterpieces. Subsequently students will focus on the history of collecting as a process that lead to the modern institution of the Museum. The history of collecting and modern exhibition practices in museums will be approached from anthropological, social, historical and artistic points of views.
Rome will serve as the principal case study thanks to its diverse panorama of Galleries, public collections, museums, and public exhibition spaces. Comparison will be established with cultural institutions visited during excursions, i.e. Florence and Venice principally. Through lectures, class discussions, readings, films, and site visits, students will directly wrestle with the class’ topic.
Rome Visual Journal (1 credit)
An intensive sketchbook course on the architecture of Rome. Emphasis will be on diagrammatic analysis of buildings and developing graphic proficiency. The goal will be to develop an understanding of the role of drawing as an analytical method from the point of view of an architect, not just as a means of artistic representation. Thus, students will diagram specific buildings in order to discover underlying principles of order, organization, rhythm, and geometry. As a class, we will visit buildings and monuments throughout the city. Once a week, the class will meet in the Scuola Leonardo da Vinci for group critiques.
This program will be of particular interest to students in Studio Art, Architectural Studies, Art History, Media and Society, and Entrepreneurial Studies as well as those in European Studies focusing on Italy.
This program is open to all sophomores, juniors, and seniors in good social and academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Students will be required to have successfully completed (with a C- or better) ITAL 101 during the fall semester preceding the program. Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened.
Students reside in independent apartments arranged by the program while in Rome and will stay in hotels or hostels during excursions.
Program-related excursions vary from year to year depending on the courses offered and the interests of the faculty director(s). The program typically includes a combination of overnight excursions outside Rome, designed to provide students insight into other areas of the country, and day trips to important sites in and around Rome. Visits to Florence and Venice are tentatively planned for Spring 2023.
Students will be charged standard HWS tuition and fees, room fees, and a $600 administrative fee. This will cover tuition for a four-course semester, health insurance, housing, and program-related activities and excursions. Note that no HWS board fee will be charged. Students should plan to bring their board fee to cover meal expenses throughout the program. While meal expenses will vary according to individual tastes, we estimate $2100-$2300 should be sufficient for students who prepare their own meals.
Additional expenses not covered include airfare, visa, books, and personal expenses (laundry, entertainment, ground transportation and independent travel). We estimate airfare for this program at $1000-$1200 from the East Coast, visa at $50, and books at $250. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of personal expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $1500 above and beyond meal expenses. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk with the CGE staff who can offer information and advice based on your specific situation.
HWS students must complete all components of the Global Education application in order to be considered for admission to this program.
- The Rome program is offered every semester. In the Fall semester the academic focus will vary depending upon the expertise of the faculty director while Art and Architecture is the focus in the Spring semester.
- All components of the application must be submitted online by the published deadline. Specific deadline dates are set each semester and typically will be in late September/early October (for Fall programs) and late February/early March (for Spring programs).
IMPORTANT: The handbook(s) below is/are the most recent handbook(s) published for this program. A new version, with updated information, will be made available each semester. Program participants will receive their updated handbook approximately 2-3 months prior to their program’s start date.
Please DO NOT MAKE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS until you have received final confirmation of the program start/finish dates for the specific semester you are attending. Dates included in versions of the program handbook intended for previous semesters do not necessarily apply to future programs.
NOTE: The information above is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information.
Resources for Smart Travelers
Rick Steve's Packing Tips!