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  • Locations: Rome, Italy
  • Program Terms: Winter Quarter
  • Budget Sheets: Winter Quarter
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Affiliated Department: International Studies, Sociology Primary Language(s) of Instruction: English
UW Credits: 12 Estimated Program Fee: 8050
UW Program Director: Maria Vignau Loria, Steven Pfaff UW Study Abroad Program Manager: Katherine R Kroeger
UW Program Staff Email:,
Program Information:

Location Rome, Venice, Florence, and Naples
Academic Term Winter Quarter
January 6, 2020 - March 13, 2020
Estimated Program Fee $8,500
Credits 15
Prerequisites There are no prerequisites for the course. Professor Pfaff will provide students with all of the necessary background in social science theory and history.
Program Directors Steven Pfaff |
Program Manager Katherine Kroeger |
Priority Application Deadline May, 15th, 2019
Extended Application Deadline June 3, 2019
Information Sessions May 8th, 11:30-12:30pm, SAV 409
General This program provides a general introduction to the culture, politics, and economy of Italy using a combination of lectures and site visits in Rome, and visits to Venice, Florence, and Naples.
Visas This country is part of the Schengen area. Note that there are strict rules and restrictions for foreign visitors to this area that may impact a student's ability to travel within the region before or after their program, or to attend two subsequent programs in this area. It is critical that the student reviews the information and scenarios here to learn more about Schengen area visa requirements.

Program Description

The goal of this program is to enhance student understanding of contemporary Italy using the tools of sociological and economic theory. Italy is a model case for understanding how a rich, and in many ways conservative society faces the many challenges of our global era. Protective of its industry and culture, the twin forces of globalization and Europeanization have tested Italy's willingness and ability to adapt to the fast changing realities of today's interconnected global economy and society. Italy's slow food movement, for instance, provides a fascinating example of the resilience of Italian culture, but also its reluctance to adapt to modern influences. How is Italy's deep-rooted sense of history both a bedrock of stability and a barrier to needed change as the country moves into the 21st century? These themes of historical legacy and contemporary challenges form the framework for this Sociology-European Studies program in Rome.

The program will focus on contemporary challenges in Italian politics, economics, and culture, with the three core courses also providing historical background and perspective on these issues. The Italian political and economic systems have been unstable and unreliable. The 'Second Republic' that emerged in 1992 was marred by loose coalitions and weak governments. While managing to avoid the worse effects of Europe's current economic and financial crisis, Italy is saddled with a huge debt and an unproductive workforce. Despite these challenges, Italy retains considerable strengths and great potential. Notoriously inefficient state-run assisted industries stand in contrast to Italy's dynamic small and medium-size companies, nimble producers of high quality products that have made the "Made in Italy" label famous. The image of La Dolce Vita sells around the world, yet many groups, including the young and immigrants, remain marginalized. Italians continue to mistrust their government and increasingly worry about their future. All of these themes provide an exceptional opportunity to understand a society and polity wrestling with the challenges of globalization.





Rome, Venice, Florence, and Naples


The Rome Center will arrange for shared housing for the students. Housing for students is located within 20 minutes of the Rome Center.



Prerequisites and Language Requirements

There are no prerequisites for the course. Professor Pfaff will provide students with all of the necessary background in social science theory and history. There is a fair amount of walking involved, but nothing excessive.


15 UW Quarter Credits


SOC 401JSIS 488: Politics and Society in Contemporary Italy (5 credits)

Italy's political system is one of the most interesting in the contemporary world, with a rich history, a complicated and colorful present, and a promising but uncertain future. It has been ruled by city-states, monarchies, fascists, and different forms of democracy. Contemporary Italy is facing pressing political challenges. It only became a unified nation in the 1860s, and still bears many of the marks of its fragmented, divided past. There is the threat to national unity coming from the Northern League party, which seeks a federal system, and ultimately a separation between the rich and industrialized north from the poor and mostly agricultural south. Both the Catholic church and the mafia have played unusually important roles in shaping its politics. Italy has a perennially sclerotic government, gridlocked by partisanship, corruption, and unstable coalitions. They need to formulate immigration policies that are in line with EU requirements, but that also mollify an increasingly xenophobic electorate. Italy is full of the fascinating transformations, combinations and contradictions that make the study of the relationship between politics and society so interesting.

Learning goals include:
Students are expected to know the history of Italian politics and contemporary political issues. Evaluation is based on an essay exam.

SOC 401JSIS 488: Economy and Society in Contemporary Italy (5 credits)

The contemporary Italian economy is in many ways a product of its history, shaped by periods of empire, city-states that dominated medieval and renaissance Europe, late state formation that both reflected and reinforced economic fragmentation, and a period of fascism in which the state directly controlled much of the economy. In the post-war era, it initially experienced rapid economic growth, much of it based on small, flexible enterprises. More recently, it has suffered from economic stagnation, accompanied (caused?) by the rise of neoliberalism. The contemporary Italian economy is facing challenges stemming from globalization and outsourcing, which is seen as a direct threat to the "Made in Italy" brand. There is strong resistance to EU regulations, which are seen as encroaching on traditional methods of production, especially in the food industry. A more recent challenge comes from the increasing immigration started by the recent political upheaval in North Africa, in a cultural context in which immigrants are seen as draining an already strained social infrastructure. In many respects Italy is a fascinating case for exploring the relationships between economy and society.

Learning goals include:
The students are expected to learn some basics of economic theory, and be able to use it to analyze the evolution of the Italian economy over time. Evaluation is based on an essay exam.

SOC 401JSIS 488: Italian Culture (5 credits)

Italy is justifiably known and loved for its food, wine, art, and architecture. We will explore the historical evolution and contemporary varieties of each of these, both in class lectures, and in trips to museums, walks around the city, and dinners in restaurants. Each week we will watch an Italian film linked to the main themes of the program, and discuss it both as a work of art and as a window into Italian culture. We will listen to Italian music, from opera to pop. We will analyze the role of religion in Italian life, the importance of the family, changing gender roles, and the fascinating regional differences across Italy (which we will see and taste first-hand on weekend trips to southern and northern cities), and the bizarre world of Italian television. Students will also be provided with lists of Italian short stories, novels, and poems, for additional reading. Throughout the course, we will explore the many ways in which Italian culture has shaped and been shaped by Italian politics and economics.

Learning goals include:
Students are expected to develop knowledge an appreciation of Italian art, architecture, food, and film, as well as being able to trace the development of Italian culture over time (renaissance and baroque art, neorealist film, etc.). Evaluation is based on an essay exam.

In addition to the essay exam, students will be evaluated on a project about Italy. They will choose the topic, present their findings to the class, and write a 10-page paper on their topic at the end of the quarter. Overall, I want them to have both a general overview of Italy (from lectures and site visits, and evaluated by the exam), and in-depth knowledge of one aspect of Italy (evaluated by their presentations and the 10-page paper).





Steven Pfaff
Professor, Sociology

Steven Karceski



Program Expenses

Estimated Program Fee: $8,500

Included in the program fee:

  • $450 Study Abroad Fee
  • Instruction
  • Housing
  • Program activities and program travel
Not included in the program fee:
  • Airfare (average price subject to when and where you buy your ticket - $1,500)
  • Food (about $20/day)
  • UW Student Abroad Insurance ($1.64/day)
  • Other health expenses/immunizations
  • Personal spending money

Payment Due Date: January 24, 2020

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.

Financial Aid

  • A large percentage of UW students utilize financial aid to study abroad. Most types of financial aid can be applied to study abroad fees.
  • You can submit a revision request to increase the amount of aid for the quarter you are studying abroad. These additional funds are usually awarded in the form of loans. To apply, fill out a revision request form, attach the budget sheet (available via the link at the top of this brochure) and submit these documents to the Office of Student Financial Aid.  For more information about this process, consult the Financial Aid section of our website.
  • Consult the Financial Aid section of our website for more information on applying for financial aid, special considerations for summer and early fall programs, and budgeting and fundraising tips.


  • There are many scholarships designed to fund students studying abroad. The UW Study Abroad administers a study abroad scholarship program and there are national awards available as well.
  • Scholarships vary widely in their parameters. Some are need-based, some are location-based, and some are merit-based.
  • To be considered for a UW Study Abroad Scholarship fill out a short questionnaire on your UW Study Abroad program application.  You must apply by the priority application deadline for the program in order to be considered for a scholarship.  Click the Overview tab to view application deadlines.
  • Consult our Scholarships page to learn about UW-based and national scholarships. The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards can help you learn about additional opportunities.

Budgeting Tools

We understand that figuring out your finances for study abroad can be complicated and we are here to help. Below are some ways to find additional support.

  • Click on the Budget Sheets link at the top of this brochure to view the estimated budget of all expenses for this program.
  • Contact the Global Opportunities Adviser at to learn more about how to pay for study abroad.
  • Attend a Financial Planning Workshop offered by UW Study Abroad – more information is on the Events page of our website.
  • Visit the Finances section of our website.



Application Process

The study abroad application includes a personal statement, three short answer questions, one recommendation from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the online application process, you 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.


To be eligible to study abroad, you must complete the mandatory pre-departure online orientation provided by UW Study Abroad. You must also attend program-specific orientations offered by the program director.

You will be able to access the online orientation through your study abroad application once you have been accepted to a program. Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.


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. This is an especially important consideration if you are planning to do more than one study abroad program. You can research visa requirements 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 $450 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable once you have submitted a contract. 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 will be 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 business day a withdrawal application is received by UW Study Abroad. 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.
  2. Submit a withdrawal application to UW Study Abroad.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.

Additional Info

Here is a link to our Facebook page: Pictures included below.