Harvard Summer Program in Venice, Italy

3/23/20: In light of the significant and prolonged uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Harvard Summer School is suspending the operation of our 2020 study abroad programs. For further travel resources, please visit the Harvard Global Support Services website and Harvard’s coronavirus website which is frequently updated – and contains the latest announcements, guidance and resources.

PLEASE CHECK BACK IN EARLY FALL FOR SUMMER 2021 PROGRAM INFORMATION

Dates: 
June 14, 2020 to August 8, 2020
Apply by: 
January 30, 2020
Cost: 
$9,500
Housing: 
Dorms

Explore Venice, Italy, one of Europe's most important nexuses.  

Investigate European and American art, culture, history, and economics alongside Harvard University and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice students and faculty. This collaborative, multidisciplinary eight-week program brings together two prestigious universities to deepen your understanding of Venice—a city with a rich history and an environment unlike any other.

You experience the unique culture, art, and history of Venice through workshops, excursions, and field trips, as well as participation in the local community. With a diverse array of course offerings to choose from, you will have the opportunity to engage in a multi-disciplinary exploration of Venice and of historical and contemporary Western society.

Program Structure

The first and last (eighth) weeks of the program provide essential cultural context to frame your academic experience in Venice. You will participate in a variety of required activities and workshops on topics that in past years have included Italian fashion and design, Venetian mask-making, the traditional rowing technique, Voga, and Venetian cooking. 

From the second through the seventh week of the program, you enroll in two of the courses listed below. Please note that final course placement is dependent on availability and is determined by the HSS Registrar's Office upon your enrollment in the program.

Courses

Any two courses taken in the Venice program count as two semester-long courses (4 credits each) of degree credit. Consult with your department prior to enrollment regarding the availability of concentration credit.

HIST S-35 and HUMA S-125 meet the General Education requirement for Ethics & Civics. For information regarding department credit for economics courses, please see the Harvard economics department website.

VISU S-168 counts for Harvard College degree credit, but AFVS (Art, Film, and Visual Studies) concentrators must first consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies about whether it may be counted for concentration credit.

ECON S-1031 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Socialism (34818)

Stephen A. Marglin
Federico D'Onofrio
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course examines the arguments for and against socialism as an alternative to capitalism. We look at different epochs in the history of the debate, from the nineteenth century crucible of capitalism, through the convulsions of twentieth century war and revolution, to the present revival of socialism as a political project. We also look at the particular circumstances of the United States in comparison with Europe. An underlying question of this course is the relationship between economic systems and culture, the extent to which the economy forms the culture and the extent to which the culture forms the economy. The course concludes with an inquiry into the ecological crisis and its implications for a sustainable economic system.

Prerequisites: none.

ECON S-1059 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: An Introduction to Complexity in Economics and the Social Sciences (34456)

Paolo Pellizzari
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course provides an introduction to complexity with a focus on economic and social systems. As we work towards a formal and shared definition of complex phenomena—a topic conspicuously absent from much of the literature in the field—we explore ideas, models, and examples from biology, chaos theory, financial markets, computational science, genetics, and sociology. The course guides students in exploring the seeming paradox of the fact that complex machinery is not needed to generate complexity, which instead is ubiquitous and can be produced by very simple rules of behavior. Students also generate computational models to acquire hands-on experience with complex system simulation and control.

Prerequisites: ECON S-10ab or the equivalent, and MATH S-1ab or the equivalent.

ENGL S-36V Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Venetian Art and the Bible (33841)

Gordon Teskey
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

William Blake called the Bible "the great code of art." Nowhere was this statement truer than in the famous Italian centers of art, Rome, Florence, and Venice. But the biblical culture of Venice was special because of her rich contacts with the East: with Islam, with the Greek culture of the Eastern Mediterranean, and with the Holy Land itself. The great cathedral of Venice, Saint Mark's, is named for the city's patron, who wrote the oldest and most venerable of the Christian gospels. The Bible provided the artists of Venice with a rich fund of subjects for painting and sculpture. This course gives students an outline of the contents and structure of the Bible similar to what most people in Venice would have had during the period when its greatest art was produced. The aim is for students to be able to look at a work of Venetian art and read not only its biblical subject but also its biblical thinking, especially the subterranean connections between episodes. We also consider how extra-biblical subjects such as saints' legends and episodes from the apocrypha are themselves extensions of biblical reading. Meeting times are about equally divided between classroom discussion and field trips to sites around Venice. Among the more important of these are Saint Mark's cathedral, the Doge Palace, the Basilica dei Frari, the Scuola di San Rocco (with its amazing Tintorettos), the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the Basilica della Salute (with Titian's biblical paintings in the sacristry), and the Accademia gallery, with its great hall containing Veronese's gigantic and exuberant Feast in the House of Levi and Titian's large but intimate Pieta, with its subtle biblical meanings adopted to personal expression. The course's final class concludes in this room, in front of these contrasting visions of the meaning of life, seen through the lens of the Bible.

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 Africans, 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 lecture for two weeks of the course.

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.

HARC S-140 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Private and Public Life in Venice, in the Renaissance and Beyond (34804)

Myriam Pilutti Namer
Martina Frank
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

Venetian nobles in the Renaissance were remarkable commissioners of works of art and architecture as well as of literature and music. Venetian patricians were also cultured collectors of antiquities and even owners of villas and gardens on the mainland. At the same time many of them were distinguished politicians, ruling the state in order to guarantee social peace and the independence of the Serenissima Republic from other European powers. Their private life was performed in a universe of palazzi (buildings), ville (villas) and giardini (gardens), while their public role was practiced both in the Ducal Palace and the basilica of the piazza San Marco, and in the scuole (charitable organizations). The first part of the course focuses on the interaction between private and public life in Renaissance Venice. The chronology is extended to the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries in order to explore the changes that occurred in economic and cultural life and to determine their influence on the residential behavior of the Venetian ruling class. The second part of the course focuses on a number of meaningful locations where, during the Renaissance and beyond, the boundaries of public and private sphere overlapped and blended. These case studies offer examples of critical junctions between private origins and present public use or vice versa, exploring new paradigms in the definition of space in Venice.

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

HIST S-1158 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Italy in a Global Context, 16th to 19th Centuries (34806)

Giulia Delogu
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course re-examines the history of Italy in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries through a global lens, highlighting how the Italian peninsula was not a decadent, insular region during this period, but a vital center of far-reaching networks of commercial, political, and cultural exchange. These networks reveal Italian cities as both recipients of and active agents in processes of knowledge formation. The course highlights the importance of port cities such as Venice, Trieste, and Livorno, exploring their roles in the circulation of information ranging from commercial reforms and ideas of human rights to immigration and public health policies. Students examine historical documents from the state archives of Trieste, Modena, Venice, Genoa, and Milan, as well as literary masterpieces of the period, and gain a comprehensive view of recent scholarship on Italy and the new methodological horizons of global history.

Prerequisite: none.

HUMA S-125 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: The Ethics of Identity (33883)

Jay M. Harris
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

This course engages with the ethical challenges presented by personal and group identities. Built around K. Anthony Appiah's book, The Ethics of Identity, in conversation with his predecessors, interlocutors, and opponents (among them Kant, Mill, and Rawls), the course focuses on contentious contemporary issues regarding inclusion and exclusion, and on how we can engage with our multiple identities in ethically responsive ways.

MATH S-1BV Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Calculus, Series and Differential Equations (33800)

Robin Gottlieb
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

The language of mathematics has evolved over time, but Galileo's famous statement that "the book of the universe is written in the language of mathematics" is as true today as it was then. In this course, students deepen their foundation in modern mathematics and learn more about mathematical applications in other disciplines. The course focuses on three related topics which together form a central part of the language of modern science: applications and methods of integration, infinite series and the representation of functions by power series, and differential equations, with an emphasis on modeling and qualitative analysis. The material introduced in this course has applications in physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, astronomy, economics, and statistics.

Prerequisites: Students are expected to be familiar with trigonometry, inverse trig, exponentials, and logarithms, and have a basic understanding of elementary calculus, including the notion of a derivative, differentiation using the product, quotient, and chain rules, and definite and indefinite integrals.

Note: Priority is given to students in the Emerging Scholars Program.

MATH S-1BV Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Calculus, Series and Differential Equations (33805)

Brendan Kelly
Hakim J. Walker
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

The language of mathematics has evolved over time, but Galileo's famous statement that "the book of the universe is written in the language of mathematics" is as true today as it was then. In this course, students deepen their foundation in modern mathematics and learn more about mathematical applications in other disciplines. The course focuses on three related topics which together form a central part of the language of modern science: applications and methods of integration, infinite series and the representation of functions by power series, and differential equations, with an emphasis on modeling and qualitative analysis. The material introduced in this course has applications in physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, astronomy, economics, and statistics.

Prerequisites: Students are expected to be familiar with trigonometry, inverse trig, exponentials, and logarithms, and have a basic understanding of elementary calculus, including the notion of a derivative, differentiation using the product, quotient, and chain rules, and definite and indefinite integrals.

Note: Priority is given to students in the Emerging Scholars Program.

VISU S-168 Study Abroad in Venice, Italy: Designing Augmented Reality Experiences for Museums and Cultural Sites (34805)

Fabio Pittarello
4 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

The course teaches students how to create a user experience (UX), based on augmented reality (AR) technology, targeted to cultural heritage sites and art exhibitions. Theoretical lectures are complemented by lab sessions focused on different methodological and technical issues involved in the development of an AR-based UX. The scenario for the development is one of the exhibitions or cultural heritage sites available in Venice at the time of the course—for example, the exhibition spaces of Ca' Giustinian (on the south side of Ca' Foscari), the Svevo Museum in Trieste, or Modus, a collateral event of La Biennale Arte. Students collaborate in small working groups for creating the final prototype.

Prerequisite: none.

Where You Live and Study

The lagoon city of Venice, la Serenissima, was for centuries a cultural and commercial center of Europe, and a vital link between East and West. 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.

Accommodations

You stay in the newly renovated dormitory "Camplus" in the Santa Marta area, about 5-7 minutes walk from the classrooms and the Summer School office in Venice. All rooms are doubles and have air conditioning and internet. With the exception of breakfast, which is provided in the dorms, you are responsible for your own meals. All rooms include 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 popular option.

Application

Early application is strongly encouraged. Each program has unique requirements included in the online application. Beginning your application early is the best way to ensure that you have sufficient time to review and complete the application requirements by the deadline. 

You may apply to no more than two programs; if applying to two programs, you will be asked to rank your two applications in order of preference (first and second choice). Any applications submitted in excess of the maximum of two will be automatically withdrawn. You will be notified of your admissions status in each program by late February. 

A complete online application includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • A statement of interest
  • Your most recent transcript
  • Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, audio or video submissions, etc.)

Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.

The summer 2020 application deadline has passed. Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS): Please note that the OCS funding application is separate. OCS funding awards are tied to a specific program, and cannot be transferred to another program.

If you have questions about the application, please contact the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office by email at summerabroad@summer.harvard.edu, or by telephone at (617) 998-9602.

Cost & Expenses

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition
  • Accommodations
  • Scheduled program activities
  • Some meals (the program will provide further details)

You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates.

  • International airfare ($1,300 - $1,600)
  • Ground transportation ($200)
  • Meals ($2,000)
  • Personal expenditures, communications, course materials, and miscellaneous ($600)

If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly.

See Funding and Payment for information on how to submit payments and funding options.

Additional information

Program director

Joyce E. Chaplin

Faculty

Carlo Barbante, Laurea, Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Ca' Foscari University

Shaul Bassi, PhD, Associate Professor of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies, Ca' Foscari University

Joyce E. Chaplin, PhD, James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, Harvard University

Giulia Delogu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Early Modern History, Ca' Foscari University

Federico D'Onofrio, PhD, Research Associate, Department of Management, Ca' Foscari University

Martina Frank, PhD, Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, Ca' Foscari University

Robin Gottlieb, MSc, Professor of the Practice of Mathematics, Harvard University

Stephen Greenblatt, PhD, Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

Jay M. Harris, PhD, Harry Austryn Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies, Harvard University

Brendan Kelly, PhD, Preceptor in Mathematics, Harvard University

Stephen A. Marglin, PhD, Walter S. Barker Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Myriam Pilutti Namer, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Archaeology and Art History, Ca' Foscari University, Adjunct Lecturer in the History of the Arts of Venice and the Veneto, Ca'Foscari University

Paolo Pellizzari, PhD, Professsor of Economics, Ca' Foscari University

Fabio Pittarello, PhD, Assistant Professor in Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca' Foscari University

Gordon Teskey, PhD, Professor of English, Harvard University

Hakim J. Walker, PhD, Preceptor in Mathematics, Harvard University