Harvard Summer Program in Venice, Italy

Apply by: 
January 28, 2016

The lagoon city of Venice, la Serenissima, has for centuries been the cultural and commercial nexus of eastern and western Europe. Now it is the site of an educational crossroads and this multidisciplinary program that brings together students and faculty from Harvard University and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. In addition to classes, a carefully designed program of activities brings you into the local community and promotes your understanding of Venice as a city with a rich history and an environment unlike any other.

In this program, Italian students study and learn alongside Harvard students so that all may develop a deeper knowledge of the city and of each other. Through a range of guided activities, all students are encouraged to investigate the culture, art, and history of the city.

During the first two weeks of the session, you participate in projects designed to give you a hands-on experience of Venice, such as traditional arts and crafts and activities, guided visits to places of historical interest, and other activities that give insight into the city. Past programs have included workshops in fashion, design, and Venetian masks; lessons on the traditional rowing technique, Voga; and classes on Venetian cooking.


All courses are limited enrollment. You enroll in two courses. Course enrollments are dependent on availability, and final course enrollment is issued from the Summer School Registrar’s Office following acceptance to the program.

The following courses have been scheduled, and additional courses will be announced.

ECON S-1936 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Redeeming Keynes (33314)

Stephen A. Marglin
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course explores the birth, death, and resurrection of The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money from the Great Depression (1929-1939) to the Great Recession (2008-?). Keynes intended The General Theory to provide an intellectually consistent and persuasive argument that would explain the failure of a market system, even an idealized system with all of the warts removed, to provide jobs for willing workers. It is clear from its checkered career that The General Theory was at best a partial success. It is not only difficult to read, it does not make good on the promise of a clear and consistent account of why a competitive economy might fail to reach a full-employment equilibrium. This course attempts to provide the coherent argument that, for all its theoretical innovation, The General Theory did not deliver. In the process we examine the orthodoxy that Keynes attacked and that resurfaced in the 1960s and 1970s; the key concepts on which rest the models implicit in The General Theory; and the attempts of the Keynesian mainstream to make peace with both Keynes and orthodoxy. We also explore the applicability of The General Theory to the long run. A final section views the present economic difficulties through a Keynesian lens.

Prerequisites: introductory economics at the level of ECON S-10ab. A
year of college calculus is useful even though mathematics are used very sparingly.

ENGL S-122 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Shakespeare's Venice—Jews, Blacks, Muslims, and Christians at the Origin of the Modern World (33365)

Stephen Greenblatt
Shaul Bassi
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

A great early modern metropolis and a richly symbolic landscape, Venice is the setting of two seminal plays by Shakespeare, a comedy and a tragedy. The Merchant of Venice and Othello have made the Jewish moneylender Shylock and the Moor Othello the emblematic ethnic and cultural outsiders, figures who both foreshadow and challenge the modern notion of a multicultural community. This course analyzes the Shakespearean texts, reads their principal sources, and charts their controversial critical and theatrical histories. We examine the rich cultural and literary material that informs the plays, including the representations of African, Jews, and Muslims, and their multiple resonances in different times and places, including modern adaptations in fiction and film. Our presence in Venice is crucial to our understanding: we explore why the setting for these plays had to be here and not elsewhere, and we visit Venetian sites that illuminate the Biblical, classical, and ethnographic contexts that forged Shakespeare's notions of cultural and religious difference.

Note: Professor Greenblatt will be lecturing for the first and last week of the course.

ENGL S-177V Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: American Literary Expatriates in Europe (32606)

Glenda R. Carpio
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course explores the fiction and travel literature produced by American writers living in Europe, from Henry James to the present. In the course of this period the relationship between old to new world continuously evolves. While Europe becomes the battlefield for two bloody World Wars as well as a museum of the past, the United States assumes a dominant role on the world stage. At the same time, America also betrays key fundamental ideals as it seeks to extend its sphere of influence. American writers living and traveling in Europe reflect on these shifts and changes while also exploring the complex set of contradictions that expatriate life reveals. For African American writers, for instance, Europe represents both a site of liberation from the oppression of American color codes and also an area of the world where they are often exoticized. We focus on American literature set in Europe with readings that include but are not limited to essays, travelogues, poems, novellas, novels, and short stories.

Prerequisite: none.

ENVR S-133 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Earth's Climate—Past, Present, and Future (32299)

Carlo Barbante
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course deals with past, present, and future climate changes as evinced from the most recent studies on palaeoclimate archives, such as marine sediments and ice cores. The techniques available for the study of climate are carefully reviewed and the most recent results are presented. Climate changes involve multiple interactions among different components of the climate system, such as the atmosphere, the ocean, the earth, the biosphere, and the ice sheet. One way to make sense of this complex system is to understand the inherent rate at which each of its components respond both to the primary causes of climate change and as part of a web of interactions within the system. Testing of hypothesis by means of climate models strongly supports the experimental data presented in the course.

Prerequisite: none.

HIST S-35 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Nature (33015)

Joyce E. Chaplin
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

It may seem that questions about human responsibility toward the natural world are new, but there are long-standing traditions within Western philosophy of arguing for ethical behavior in relation to nature, whether to benefit humans or to help non-humans. This course offers a critical and historical analysis of selected texts that identify human beings as a distinctively ethical species within the natural world, with particular attention to the emergence of normative theories that rank humans with and against other natural beings. Topics include: definitions of wilderness and property; agriculture, industrialization, and consumerism as historic transformations of humanity; social hierarchies based on perceived natural abilities; ideas of natural rights; conservation and environmentalism; and animal rights. Readings include Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Rousseau, Bentham, Malthus, Mill, Emerson, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Singer. We also examine how contemporary debates over the human place within nature have continued to cite and critique normative traditions defined in the past.

Prerequisite: none

Course credit


Before applying, review the Admission and Policies and FAQs pages.

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.

The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:

  • A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee
    • A statement describing your overall academic interests and your reasons for wanting to study in Venice this summer. In your statement, discuss any relevant coursework you have taken and address how you think your experience in Venice will shape your intellectual and social development.
    • Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)

You will be notified of admission decisions by mid- to late-February.


There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The program cost includes the following:

  • Tuition
  • Room and breakfast
  • All scheduled excursions and extracurricular activities

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
  • Transportation to and from Venice, Italy
  • The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Any immunizations
  • Meals (lunch and dinner)

How to pay and funding options

See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.


You stay in the newly restructured dormitories “Ai Crociferi.” All rooms are doubles or triples and have air conditioning and Internet. With the exception of breakfast, which is provided in dorms, you are responsible for your own meals. All bedrooms are provided with a kitchenette so that you have the opportunity to cook meals.

Venice has many restaurants, bars, cafes, and pasticciere. You have the opportunity to shop at the local markets and frequent the restaurants and bars in your neighborhood. Cafeterias offering low-cost meals are another option.

Additional information

Contact the Venice program coordinator, venice@dcemail.harvard.edu.

Watch this video, made by a student during the 2013 session, which shows her experiences and activities she did while abroad.

Students with disabilities

Contact the disability services coordinator as soon as possible. See Students with Disabilities for more information.


  • Stephen Greenblatt, PhD, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University
  • Carlo Barbante, Laurea, Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Ca' Foscari University
  • Shaul Bassi, PhD, Associate Professor of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies, Ca' Foscari University
  • Glenda R. Carpio, PhD, Professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
  • Joyce E. Chaplin, PhD, James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, Harvard University
  • Stephen A. Marglin, PhD, Walter S. Barker Professor of Economics, Harvard University