Launched in 2007, the Discovery Florence program continues to grow as it brings together adventurous first-year students in a vibrant city rich with some of the world’s most famous history, art, and architecture. You’ll take courses that count toward your humanities and social sciences requirements and learn Italian language (no proficiency required) in the classroom and at home with your host family. Past Discovery Florence courses have included Italian Art and Society, Liberty and Power from the Ancient World to Modernity, and Italian 101.
Life in Florence
Full Immersion Weekend
The “Full Immersion Weekend,” the first weekend of the semester, is different from all the others. While students are normally free on weekends to participate in field study excursions or to travel on their own, the full immersion weekend was established to spend time with the host family and to become oriented to the city of Florence and the immediate neighborhood.
From past experience, this weekend has proven to be invaluable for students and host families to get to know each other better before classes begin. Students learn to orient themselves within the host family and the city of Florence.
Discovery Florence students will live with an Italian host family, an experience that offers superior linguistic and cultural benefits. The combination of formal Italian lessons and home-based language practice with native speakers has proven to be a tremendously effective means of learning a language. Moreover, being part of a family means participating directly in Italian daily life—the best way to gain insights into and integrate fully with a culture.
Student life means different things to different people. SUF offers the possibility to experience Italian life and culture and at the same time have access to many services that you would expect from a university campus.
Students will be advised during the summer before departure by both the Syracuse-based SU Abroad staff and by a senior faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences, who will also serve as their advisor for the rest of the year (helping to choose spring courses during registration in November as well as advising throughout the spring semester). In addition to ongoing communication with students throughout the semester, the advisor will visit Florence to talk with students and to help with their initial adjustment to being abroad and to college expectations.
All Discovery Florence students will participate in the Florence equivalent of the First Year Forum offered by the College of Arts and Sciences on main campus. The goal of the forum is to orient the student to college life, to SU, and to studying abroad. Students will discuss issues of host families, cultural adjustment, time management, study habits, expectations of college level courses, choosing a major, and more. This course will be taught by staff in Florence with input from the associate dean for curriculum and instruction of the College of Arts and Sciences.
An exciting and extensive field trips program awaits you in Florence. Traveling to diverse locations throughout the Italian peninsula, you will be wowed by Italy’s natural beauty, become immersed in the country’s rich past and present, and discover how so many towns and cities became great centers of western art, architecture, and culture.
Students participating in the Discovery Florence program will enjoy a rich and varied introduction to Italy through a challenging semester-long curriculum. The program fulfills the same curricular requirements as those pursued by freshmen studying on Syracuse University’s main campus, while providing a course schedule unique to the Florence experience. Upon return to Syracuse in the spring semester, Discovery Florence participants will be on equal footing academically with their main campus peers.
- CAS 101 – First Year Forum (1 credit): This seminar welcomes new students to Syracuse University. The course helps you develop closer relationships with peers and a professor and eases the entrance into University life. Special topics will introduce and orient you to Florence and Italy and discuss adjusting to a new culture.
- Italian Language (3–6 credits): Use the Italian you learn in the classroom on the streets of Florence and over dinner with your host family. You will take an online placement exam over the summer, with your language level confirmed once you arrive abroad. If you are at the beginning or intermediate levels, you will meet four days a week, earning 6 credits. Students with more advanced language skills take a 3-credit language or literature course taught in Italian that meets twice a week.
- WRT 105 – Studio 1: Practices of Academic Writing (3 credits): In WRT 105, you will focus on critical analysis and argument, practices that are central to the academic work in universities and in professional careers. The course will involve you in a shared topic of inquiry—an urgent issue that requires multiple points of view and kinds of knowledge— that you will engage with through readings, a range of informal and formal writing assignments, a modest amount of database and web research, and a lot of conversation with your classmates. This course satisfies a Liberal Arts Core requirement for the first writing skills course.
Students who have earned credit for WRT 105 by either AP (score of 4 or higher in English Language and Composition or in English Literature and Composition), IB (score of 5 or higher on Higher Level Exam in English), or other college-level credit may choose one of the following two alternative courses.
- HST/SOC/WGS 454.1 – Family and Gender in Contemporary Italy (3 credits)
- LIT 445 – Comedy in Italy from Ancient to Modern Times (3 credits)
You will round out your schedule by selecting two of the following optional courses. (Students taking an advanced Italian language or literature course will select three courses.)
- CLA/LIT/REL 421 – Classical Mythology (3 credits)
- EAR 100 – Introduction to Geology (3 credits)
- HOA 203 – Italian Arts from Antiquity to Michelangelo (3 credits)
- HOA 320 – Italian Renaissance Art (3 credits)
- LIT 423 – Italian Cinema: 1945–Present (3 credits)
- PSC 141 – Liberty and Power from the Ancient World to Modernity (3 credits): What forces have shaped your personal perspectives on justice, equality, and authority? With the cradle of the Italian Renaissance as a fitting backdrop, you’ll engage the juggernauts of social theory including Florence’s own Machiavelli, plus More, Kant, Locke, Wollstonecraft, and other foundational thinkers. Through their eyes—and via your own interactive projects—you’ll explore the historical relationships between morality and politics, politics and religion, the foundations of legitimacy through democratic consensus, and the birth of feminism. This course satisfies a Liberal Arts Core divisional requirement in the Social Sciences.