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  • Locations: Rome, Italy
  • Program Terms: Spring
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Semester Minimum GPA: 2.5
Class Eligibility: Junior, Senior, Sophomore Academic Area/Focus: Architectural Studies, Art: Art History, Entrepreneurial Studies, Environmental Studies, European Studies, Italian Language Culture, Media and Society, Sociology, Studio Art, Urban Studies
Language Courses Offered: Italian Language Prerequisite: Italian 1 semester
Language of Instruction: English Reader's College Required: Yes
Program Description:

Rome, Italy

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
Courses & Academic Focus
Money Matters
Application Information
Program Handbook


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. 

Courses & Academic Focus

Courses—Spring 2024

Students participating in the program will take two 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.

Public Space and the Right to the City of Rome (1 credit)

This course will introduce students to the architectural and programmatic diversity of Rome’s public spaces, ranging from everyday spaces such as bus stations and neighborhood espresso bars to public plazas and monument squares that accommodate thousands of tourists daily. The purpose of the course is two-fold: to introduce students to a basic history of sociological thinking on public spaces and the litany of its contemporary problems, such as privatization, securitization, aestheticization and commercialization; and to invite students to interrogate the architectural, functional, and sensorial makeup of various public spaces as a way to both understand the use patterns and interactions it engenders, as well as recognize the potential for intervention through applying principles of architectural design and planning. As such, the course will leverage expertise from the disciplines of architecture and urban studies, while utilizing Rome’s public spaces as a laboratory for exploring these disciplinary approaches in tandem. The course will focus on how the major social issues of contemporary Italy – becoming an immigrant-receiving nation, embracing a European identity, negotiating a culinary tradition into a global brand, balancing a rich architectural heritage with massive tourism, managing a global pandemic – get negotiated, resolved, and reignited through everyday interactions within its public spaces.

Students will choose two of the following electives:

ARCS 301 Immediate Environment (1 credit)
This course sets out to further architectural design investigations.  Building on formal and communication techniques defined within the art of drawing, modeling, and critical thinking, this studio will explore Rome as the primary site for analysis and creative exploration. Focusing on spatial, structural, material, and experiential design, projects will range in scale from the human body to architecture, and finally to the scale of the urban landscape. (Students taking this course must have completed all prerequisities for the Architectural Studies major: ARTS 115 or 114, ARTS 125, ARCH 110).

SOC/URST 214 Urban Ethnography (1 credit)
This course will introduce students to a body of knowledge amassed over a century of urban ethnography, focusing on urban ethnographies both theoretically and methodologically. Students will learn about topics of sustained importance to ethnographers, such as poverty, crime and violence, race, social class, public space, consumption, housing and homelessness, and the informal economy. We will cover important debates within ethnography, including issues of ethics, representation, and the politics of doing an ethnography. We will ask both what’s specifically urban in any given ethnographic work, as well as what’s specifically ethnographic about the subjects we will read about. The course will include ethnographic fieldwork in a variety of urban spaces in Rome.

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.

This program will be of particular interest to students in Architectural Studies, Environmental Studies, Sociology, Urban Studies, Media and Society, Entrepreneurial Studies, European Studies, and Italian Studies.


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.
Kathleen Henke - Vatican


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 locations in both Northern and Southern Italy are tentatively planned for Spring 2024.

Money Matters

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 $2200-$2400 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 $1100-$1250 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. 

Application Information

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).

Program Handbook

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!

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.