2018 Honors in Italy

Honors Italy: Water and Its Uses for Environment and Society, past and present

2018 Honors in Italy

water taxi rides through Venice


Honors Italy: Water and its uses for environment and society, past and present

Locations: Rome, Venice, Florence plus excursions to other locations in Italy.

Sponsoring Unit: Honors Program, Undergraduate Academic Affairs
Program Dates: June 19 – July 20, 2018 (Summer A term)

This program will award the following 15 credits of Honors core requirements:

Course Credits Credit Type
HONORS 223 5 Honors Science (NW) “W”
HONORS 213 5 Honors Humanities (VLPA) “W”
HONORS 381 (required spring prep seminar)
Honors Interdisciplinary (VLPA, NW,  and I&S) “W”
These two courses will be combined into one 5-credit course on your transcript

Information Sessions

  • Thu, Nov 30,1:30 p.m., MGH 206
  • Tue, Jan 9, 2:20 p.m., MGH 206

About the Program

Water is one lens through which we understand environmental challenges and is frequently a focal point for assessing human-ecosystem interactions. During this program, we use stops in multiple cities in central and northern Italy to explore case studies of these interactions, analyzing and reflecting upon them using literary/historical (HON 213) and environmental science (HON 223) techniques.

Italy provides a panoply of historical and modern examples of humans coming to terms with environmental limits, from ca. 2000-year-old sewerage in Rome to present-day water/energy/power tradeoffs in a cogeneration facility in Bologna. As we tour these and other sites, we will build a synthetic understanding–across the traditional disciplinary boundaries that divide the sciences and humanities–of the reciprocal relationship between humans and the world in which we live. From a humanistic perspective, we will look at works of Leonardo’s inventions, Italian literature about Rome during WWII, and Boccaccio’s novella set during the Black Plague, each reflecting human-environment interaction.

Throughout the course, students will develop qualitative and quantitative skills useful for approaching complex social-ecological tradeoffs such as those we highlight here. They will hone critical thinking skills through experiential learning and through independent inquiry, as they are challenged with a wide range of historical and present-day examples of people trying to live with one another and within their environmental limits.

The Rome component of the program is conducted at the Palazzo Pio, the University of Washington’s Rome Center, located in the historic center of the city. The palazzo, a fully remodeled seventeenth-century structure that sits on the foundations of the ancient theater of Pompey (55 B.C.), rises next to the Campo de’ Fiori, one of Rome’s favorite locales, a bustling open market during the day and lively social venue at night.

The Program will include excursions to main historical sites of the three cities and their surrounding areas. A sampling of exursions may include: Pompeii, Bologna, Pisa, Vinci, Padova.

Students will receive 15 credits of Honors core credits — 12 summer credits and 3 spring seminar credits.  Participating graduate students will coordinate the allocation of credits with their advisers.

Alternative credit may be available to students not currently enrolled in the Honors Program.  Alternative credit options must be arranged in advance with your departmental adviser.

Program Credit / Course Descriptions

Prep Seminar: Elements of Italian Language and Current Issues

Honors 381, 3 credits, Interdisciplinary

This 3-credit course will be taught during Spring Quarter 2018.

The aim of the course is to provide students with the linguistic and cultural tools that can maximize their study experience in Italy. The content of the course will provide a basic knowledge of the language and major sociopolitical issues. The language component will provide tools to communicate at an elementary level in everyday life. Students will learn how to greet, introduce themselves, order food and drinks, ask for simple information, and express basic needs. Culturally, the students will address some of the issues present in the current political debate, such as immigration, unemployment, welfare, and LGBT rights.

Water and Society in Italy

HONORS 223 (NW) – Honors Science – 5 Credits

This classes uses a combination of experiential learning and classroom work to look at human-ecosystem interactions in Italy using water as a focal area.  Students will develop qualitative and quantitative skills useful for approaching complex social-ecological tradeoffs such as those we highlight here. They will hone critical thinking skills through experiential learning and through independent inquiry, as they are challenged with a wide range of historical and present-day examples of people trying to live with one another and within their environmental limits. Highlights include:

The development of municipal sewerage in Rome (allowing for an increase in sustainable urban density)

Analysis of ecosystem services and social/ecological tradeoffs surrounding a wetland south of Rome

The use of water for strategic defense and clean drinking water in Florence (historically)

Reducing water-energy tradeoffs via a multi-use waste/water/power facility in Bologna

Coping with the challenges of sea-level rise in Venice, a city that remains closely tied to the use of water for transportation

Connecting Literature, History, Environment

Honors 213 (VLPA) – Honors Humanities – 5 Credits

The 2018 Honors Italy program evolved from an interest in scientific-humanistic overlap and aims to investigate the interdisciplinary relationship between people and the environment, with its chronological and geographic specifics.

The course is divided into two branches, one related to the theme of water, the other linked to the literature born in the cities we will visit. In the first, we will analyze how the ocean, rivers, drinking and wastewater in urban centers have led to various social behaviors over the centuries. Among other things, we will study the use of thermal baths, aqueducts, and sewers of the ancient Romans and the passion of Leonardo da Vinci for water. In addition, we will observe the changing role of the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, from the cradle of the Roman Empire to the path of current migration from Africa.

Rome, Florence, and Venice have been home to remarkable poets and writers who have produced memorable literary works. Students will have the opportunity to visit the ghetto of Rome and read excerpts of novels describing the deportation of Jews on October 16, 1943. Excerpts from the works of Machiavelli, Boccaccio, and Pratolini will be examined in Florence, while in Venice the students will learn about a famous typographer of the 16th century Aldo Manuzio, the writer and adventurer Girolamo Casanova, and the playwright Carlo Goldoni. Instruction will take place through lectures, discussions, readings, film screenings, and site-relevant visits.

Research in the City: faculty supervised projects

HONORS 381 (VLPA/I&S/NW) – Honors Interdisciplinary – 2 Credits

Students will work on team projects, in consultation and direction with the professors, throughout the course and present their research during the last week of the Program.

Learning Goals

  • Learn social science and humanities research methods
  • Deepen research skills in international context working in small groups and individually

Program Leadership

Ryan Kelly, College of the Environment

Prof. Kelly has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in environmental studies, environmental policy, and related fields at UW and Stanford, and has a deep background in both basic science and law/policy. He holds both a PhD in Biology and a JD in Law. Read more:


Cecilia Strettoi, Department of French and Italian Studies 

Born, raised, and educated in Italy, Cecilia Strettoi has personal connections most of the sites that will be visited. She earned a Master Degree in Italian Literature and Language from the University of Pisa, and  has been teaching for over two decades, the last fourteen at the UW. Read more:


Program Expenses

Estimated Program Fee: $5,350 (this includes the $600 Rome Center fee and the $450 UW concurrent enrollment fee (students do not pay tuition; program fee and concurrent enrollment fee only)

Average Airplane Ticket: $1,700

Daily out of pocket food costs (approx): $40

Payment Schedule:

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
Non-Refundable UW Study Abroad Fee $450 July 6, 2018
Program Fee Balance $4,900 July 6, 2018

Making the program affordable

The Honors Program is passionate about study abroad and the incredible impact it can have on a student’s life.  An education grounded in a global context provides life long skills and lifelong memories. Studying abroad deepens study at home and provides a foundation for expanded reflection and self-growth, all core tenets of the Honors Program. We want everyone to experience study abroad. Don’t assume you can’t afford to study outside of the U.S.  Here are resources to help you get started on your global adventures!

Honors Program Scholarships

The Honors Program offers a number of scholarships for current Honors Program students. These scholarship funds may be used for UW approved study abroad programs or exchanges. Students may apply beginning in January (deadline is April 1).

Study Abroad Scholarships at UW

The UW offers several scholarships to support students interested in studying abroad whether through a faculty led program or an exchange program. A few opportunities include GO! and Fritz.

Visit the The Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity’s Global Opportunities website to learn about more scholarship opportunities.

The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad and was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. This scholarship provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study abroad programs worldwide.

The summer 2018 Gilman International Scholarship application will open in mid-January 2018. Applications are due March 6, 2018 by 11:59pm (Central Time) and the certifying advisor deadline is March 13.

There are several outside resources for study abroad scholarships. Visit the UW’s Study Abroad Scholarship page for more information on scholarship support as well as information about GET funds and how you may apply the GET to your study abroad costs.

Using Financial Aid for Study Abroad

You may find more information about using your existing financial aid for study abroad on the Study Abroad Office’s Financial Aid webpage.  In general, all financial aid awarded may be used to support study abroad. Exceptions to this include tuition waivers, work-study awards, or scholarships that are specific about using the award for tuition (although there may be flexibility with some scholarships, please check with the financial aid office). Tuition waivers and work-study are never allowed for study abroad.

Revision of Need

You may also turn in a “Revision of Need” form with the Financial Aid Office if you have a FAFSA on file.  Once you are accepted to a study abroad program, visit the Study Abroad Office to obtain a budget for your study abroad program then complete the Revision Request and turn in both the budget and the revision request to the Office of Student Financial Aid in Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Financial Aid Study Abroad Funding Website for more information about applying for Summer quarter financial aid and for information about Exploration Seminar financial aid timeline (different than A or B term financial aid disbursement timeline).

You may also contact Honors Program Director Julie Villegas (villegas@uw.edu) to discuss additional resources and strategies.


Rome: We will stay in private apartments that are walking distance from the UW Rome Center.

Venice and Florence: We will stay in non-profit B&B that offer a warm and welcoming environment in the heart of the cities. In Venice, the lodging is situated just a few minutes away from St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge, in a genuine eighteenth century Venetian palace. In Florence, we will stay in the seventeenth century palace Salviati surrounded by its peaceful garden, just a short walk from Ponte Vecchio. Students will share quadruple rooms in Venice and double rooms in Florence.

Application Process

This program is open to students in the Honors Program and also students across campus. The program is focused on recruiting a diverse group of students. Students of all majors are encouraged to apply and the program encourages freshmen-seniors.

Selection to the program is competitive and acceptance into the program will be decided based on application materials, interviews, and student’s demonstrated motivation to challenge themselves intellectually across academic disciplines and cultures and to work both individually and in groups.

Students will receive 15 credits total (12 credits in the summer and 3 credits of during spring quarter-prep seminar). Credits will fulfill Honors Core requirements as well as designated Areas of Knowledge. All Honors prefix credits are “W” designated.

Alternative credit may be available to students outside of the Honors Program; this must be arranged in advance with your departmental adviser.

Apply Now!

Deadline: January 31, 2018