Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Some study-abroad students to get extra study, travel next fall

From the piazzas of Bologna, Italy, to the palaces of London — students at two University of Denver-sponsored study abroad programs will have the opportunity to explore the celebrated cities through an interdisciplinary collaboration.

Students in the fall 2008 program in Bologna will travel to London to meet up with their counterparts for a long weekend of sightseeing and academic exploration. A week later, students from London will visit Bologna.

Bologna leader Roberta Waldbaum, an assistant professor in the department of languages and literatures and co-director of the DU-Bologna International Center for Civic Engagement, conceived the idea for the exchange along with London leader and anthropology Professor Dean Saitta. They worked together to identify how the trips would seamlessly integrate into each program’s curriculum.

Through his course Monumental London, Saitta will teach students basic anthropological skills to help them understand and analyze how people use the material world — the city of London filled with vestiges of the past — to accomplish political, economic and ideological goals.

Waldbaum’s class — Italian Cityscapes: Old Models, New Visions  — examines the idea of the Italian city as it is imagined and represented in literature and cinema.

“Both of our classes focus on the analysis and reading of cities as texts,” Saitta says. “Combining our courses is just a natural integration of ideas.”

While the itinerary is still in development, Saitta plans to take the combined group for a boat trip down the Thames River to Hampton Court Palace, home of Henry VIII, to study the influence of Italian renaissance concepts and how power is expressed through architecture. He also hopes to take students to Greenwich and to the Banqueting House, an example of Tudor and Early Stuart English architecture.

In Bologna, Waldbaum will lead an exploration of the “planned city” through visits to Bologna’s famed piazzas, secret courtyards and vast network of underground canals. Students also will meet with Bolognese civic leaders and will visit the mayor’s office to discuss the concepts of citizenship and civic engagement.

“Our hope is that the students will learn not to take material spaces for granted as simply containers of activity,” Saitta says. “We want them to think about how history and culture are written in the built environment and how they shape how we feel about ourselves and how we behave.”

Students traveling under the Cherrington Global Scholars program will have no additional travel costs or fees. For other students, the cost of the weekend excursions will be covered by money raised from a fall 2005 fundraising concert featuring the Italian chamber ensemble I MUSICI, sponsored by the Anna and John Sie Foundation and DU.

“The students who participate will be so lucky to have this experience and to be exposed to the expertise of two faculty members in two different disciplines,” Waldbaum says.

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