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  • Locations: Rome, Italy
  • Program Terms: Spring Quarter
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Information:
sociology italy
 Location Rome, Italy
Spring Quarter
March 27 – June 1, 2017
 Estimated    Program Fee $8,000
 Credits 15 UW credits
 Prerequisites None
 Program      Directors Susan Pitchford
 Program  Manager Katherine Kroeger |
 Application    Deadline November 16, 2016
 Information  Session(s) Contact Program Director for more information.
  General Why do religious movements that start out with the best intentions always seem to betray their original vision? Come explore the story of Christianity in Rome, seat of the Roman and Christian Empires.
Where You Will Study
Expenses, Financial Aid, & Scholarships
  Visas This country is part of the Schengen area. Please click here to learn more about important rules and restrictions for foreign visitors to this area.

Program Description

The Christian church began as a small group of people who gave up material comforts, status and even their personal safety, to preach a message of nonviolence and concern for the poor and outcast. This message was fundamentally at odds with the values of the Roman Empire, which responded with vicious persecution. In the course of a few centuries, however, the tables were turned; Christianity became first tolerated, then the official religion of Empire. In a time that knew no separation of church and state, the church became the dominant temporal power in Europe, and carried out its own persecutions on critics without and within.

This program turns the lens of sociology on the institution of the church and asks, “How did this institution change in the course of its transition from small foreign sect to the seat of power in Europe, and how did it change Europe in its turn? What happened to the ideals of the founder and his followers when popes became princes and controlled armies?” The program examines the relationship between church and Empire in ancient Rome, and follows that relationship as it changes in the medieval period and beyond.

Although the acquisition of worldly wealth and power certainly changed the nature of the church, there were always forces pulling it back to the original vision. Reform movements such as the Franciscans called for a return to apostolic simplicity and care for the poor. The Protestant reformers called the fundamental premises of the church into question; the church fired back with the Counterreformation. And throughout the church’s history, mystics have appeared whose personal authority was based on reports of unmediated experiences of God; as such, mysticism has always been a form of religion that eludes and often challenges institutional control. This program examines all of these forces as examples of the ongoing tension between worldliness and otherworldliness in the history of the church.

Studying these questions in Rome is clearly key to students’ learning experience. The program places heavy emphasis on visits to sites where the events being studied occurred. The program also includes guest lectures and tours from local historians, archeologists and other scholars.

By living in apartments (rather than dormitories, as in many programs), and by doing service learning in a refugee center, students in this program experience significant community and host culture exposure, balanced by the support of fellow students and program directors. It’s an ideal balance for students with minimal international travel experience.


Rome, Italy


Naples, Sorrento, Assisi, and Florence.


Student housing is arranged by the staff of the UW Rome Center. Student preferences for location and roommate assignments will be accommodated as much as possible.


Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

This program is geared especially to undergraduate Sociology majors, though students from any major are welcome. Students interested in the sociology of religion, social/religious movements and historical sociology, as well as art, architecture and culture, would be good candidates for the program. Students looking for an opportunity to work in the community, as opposed to just observing it, will find it in the service learning component of this program.

Apart from the two credit pre-departure seminar (Winter 2017), there are no prerequisites. Italian language skills are helpful, but not required; the pre-departure seminar will include some practice with useful phrases. Students should be open to experiencing not only Italian culture but the diverse cultures of the refugees at the Nafuma Center. An open and adventurous spirit, flexibility, and the ability to build a positive group dynamic will be important traits in candidates for this program.

Rome has a very good public transportation system, but students can expect to do a significant amount of walking. The building that houses the UWRC has recently installed a stair chair lift which will make the UWRC more accessible to people with limited mobility.


15 Credits


SOC 401 A (5 credits): The Roman Empire and the Early Church

This course will examine the Roman Empire into which Christianity was born, and how the Roman world changed as the church moved from the margins to the center of power. There will be an emphasis on visiting the sites in and around Rome where events key to this story took place. This course and Soc 401b (below) will be taught by the program director, guest speakers and local guides.

Learning Goals: 

  1. Understand and use sociological theories and data to address an important social question (“Why do religious movements seem to betray their original mission?”). Assessed by weekly quizzes, weekly journals and two major essays.
  2. Communicate their understanding in both oral and written work. Assessed by the above assignments, plus short oral presentations and one full lecture (the latter with a group).
  3. Becoming thoughtful global citizens. Assessed mainly through their journals and group discussions.

SOC 401 B (5 credits): Secularization and Revival in Christianity

This course will focus on the tensions between the church and the world: What factors pushed the church in the direction of seeking worldly status, wealth and power, and what factors pushed it back toward its original mission? The topics we’ll be discussing include, among others: the persecution of the early church; the effects of the Emperor Constantine’s legalization of Christianity; various reform movements; and the ongoing tension between the mystical and institutional forms of Christianity. (For learning goals, see above under SOC 401 A.)

SOC 195 (5 credits): Study Abroad, Sociology

For this “service learning” program, students will serve as volunteers at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, which serves refugees from a variety of countries. They will work with American, Italian and other staff (all English speaking) to provide food, clothing, recreation, English tutoring and computer training to some of the neediest people of Rome. In addition to making a contribution to the community, in this course students will be reminded that Rome goes on; life in Rome today is full of modern issues and challenges, including the current refugee crisis. This course will be supervised by the program director, in collaboration with the director of the JNRC. Additionally, students will be required to turn in periodic reflections on their service learning (and other) experiences, and to discuss those experiences in a group setting.

Learning Goals: 

  1. Becoming thoughtful global citizens. Assessed by observing their efforts to cross cultural and language gaps to have meaningful interaction with refugees served by the Center. “Observation” will be both direct (by PD, TA and JNRC director) and through journals and group discussions.

Program Directors & Staff

Susan Pitchford, Department of Sociology, Program Director

Susan Pitchford is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, whose interests include the sociology of race and ethnicity, religion and tourism. She has led study abroad programs in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Rome. Dr. Pitchford lived in Rome while growing up and has gone back many times since to visit and to teach. Introducing students to the Eternal City is one of her favorite things.

Program Expenses

Cost: $8,000

Estimated Program Fee of $8,000, the UW Study Abroad Fee ($350), airfare, food (about $40/day), UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,600 - $2,000* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

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 Study Abroad Fee $350 April 14, 2017
Program Fee Balance $8,000 April 14, 2017


To be eligible to study abroad, all program participants must attend an in-person pre-departure orientation facilitated by the Study Abroad office as well as your program-specific orientations, offered by your program director.

You must register for orientation through your online study abroad account in order to attend scheduled orientations. You can visit the Orientation section of our website to view the current orientation schedule.

Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans.

Revision Request

In some instances you may qualify for an increase in your financial aid award (typically in loan funds). Check with the Financial Aid Office about your options. To request a revision in your aid, you will need to submit the following paperwork to the Financial Aid Office:

  1. Revision Request Form
  2. Budget of student expenses for your program: The UW Study Abroad Office will upload this budget to your study abroad account after a signed contract has been submitted to the UW Study Abroad Office. You can request an unofficial copy of this budget by emailing

Visit the Finances section of our website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, one to two recommendations from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by calling the consular offices of those countries or checking the following website:

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You can check the following website to find contact information for the consulate of the country you will be visiting:

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $350 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable and non-revocable once a contract has been submitted, even if you withdraw from the program. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy are included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the date (business day) a withdrawal form is received by the UW Study Abroad Office. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

1. Provide notice in writing to the Program Director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

2. Submit a signed withdrawal form to the UW Study Abroad Office, 459 Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.