Contemporary Italian Society and Culture: Italy at the Crossroads

Explore modern Italian society and culture through contemporary coursework in communication, immigration, politics, intercultural leadership and social justice.

A View of the Ducale Palace
A View of the Ducale Palace

Nestled in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, the walled city of Urbino played a significant role in the Italian Renaissance and was a major rival of both Florence and Siena.  Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich cultural and artistic history including being the birthplace of Raphael. The city's central location in Italy, along with its rich academic history, offers an excellent vantage point for students to explore the many facets of modern Italy's culture.

Villanova University has twenty years of experience with the University of Urbino and has a full-time resident director, Dr. Pete Cullen, on-site to assist students with registration, orientation, and other matters throughout the term.  

Program Themes & Highlights:

  • Learn about modern Italian society and identity and explore Italy's rich culture.
  • Live in a beautiful and vibrant college town, with opportunities to discover other areas of Italy.

he Contemporarty Italian Society and Culture Program has been designed to meet the curriculum needs of both Communication students and those students who are interested in Intercultural Communication, Politics and/or Social Justice. Each participating student will be enrolled in four required courses and will choose one elective course, the successful completion of which amounts to 18-20 Villanova credits. All classes will be evaluated as transfer credit and students must receive the equivalent of a 'C' or better for the credit to fulfill Villanova requirements.  


Beginning to Advanced Italian (6-8 credits):

All students will participate in two levels of language courses.  Students with no Italian language background will take the A1/A2 Beginner and Upper Beginner courses. Students with a prior knowledge of Italian cannot revert to a lower level and placement tests will be given prior to final enrollment. These students will follow A2/B1 Upper Beginner and Lower Intermediate OR B1/B2 Lower Intermediate and Upper Intermediate courses depending on their placement test results.  

    Beginning Italian & Italian Culture Laboratory - 8 cr

    Intermediate Italian & Italian Culture Laboratory-  6 cr
    Fulfills CLAS language requirement

    Advanced Italian & Italian Culture Laboratory - 6 cr


ELECTIVE COURSES (select three)

Intercultural Communication and Media (3 cr)- COM 3390
Leadership, Politics, Society and Citizenship (3 cr) - COM 3490, PSC 4275, PJ 4000 
Visual Culture and Identity - COM 3490 (3 cr)
Integration, Welfare, Law, and Non-Profit Organizing (3 cr) - PSC 4275, PJ 5000, DIV 1 Core


View from a dorm room

Students will live together in a hotel style accommodation. The residence is located within the center of town and close to university buildings. The walled town of Urbino is about the size of Villanova Campus. Students general live in double rooms, sharing with other program students.  WIFI is available in the hotel, although due to architecture and service provision, is not necessarily always fast.  The hotel is a two-generation family business and welcomes you to make yourselves feel at home with them, while respecting that they have neighbours on either side of their building and are located in a residential area of town. Activities and restaurant service is provided on floors under the hotel. Accommodations on trips is generally in 3 star hotels. Students generally share doubles while on trips.  A partial meal plan of two meals per day provided through the University meal hall is included, but students should budget to buy some meals during the semester.

Various tours throughout Italy will be included in the program to complement coursework. Weekend visits to such locations as Torino, Abruzzo, Bologna and Lecce will be arranged. While on the trips, we will have informative meetings and laboratory activities dealing with media, intercultural communications, immigration and reception and short film production. We will visit and talk to national media operators, immigrant reception centres, film producers, immigration lawyers, NGOs and more!

Additional activities will include cooking (and pizza cooking) classes, a visit to a winery and olive oil producer, group dinners throughout the semester, and Italian conversation meetings, socials and mixers. These activities are designed to provide informal moments of contact with residents and students in Urbino so that immersion happens more quickly and more deeply.

Orientation will provide an overview of the key immediate-needs points of interest (grocery, pharmacy, medical, public transport, etc.) and the university and town life!  You will be living in Urbino for 4 months, and we want you to get to know the town and its residents! Staff is trained to help you with day to day living requirements as well as dietary, medical and emotional-psychological needs so that you feel physically, mentally and emotionally comfortable with the wonderful challenges of study abroad in Urbino!

The trips will keep students busy on many weekends, so students should not plan any additional travel before consulting the activity schedule provided by the Villanova Resident Director.  Our activities are based on the philosophy that YOU have to make YOUR experience, and we are here to facilitate that by providing experiential activities that expose to a whole range of intellectual, practical and possibly emotional questions about living in contemporary Italy.

*Program Dates

*Dates amd exursion locations are tentative and subject to change.  Official dates will be confirmed with participants during the Fall 2018 semester.

Departure from the US August 24
Arrival in Rome August 25
Orientation & Permit to Stay Processing August 25-29
Group Excursion to Tortoreto -- Sound Lab August 30-September 1
Classes Begin September 3
Group Trip to Lecce September 27-30
Fall Break October 15-19
Classes Resume October 23
Group Trip to Bologna November 2-4
Thanksgiving Break November 21-25
Classes Resume November 26
Group Trip to Venice or Turin November 29-December 2
Last Day of Classes (Finals Conclude) December 19
Departure from Urbino December 21

Estimated Costs

Students will pay regular tuition for the semester that they spend in Urbino.  As a special CLAS program, housing and partial board is included in the tuition fee. Students are responsible for flights, additional meals, and all personal expenses on-site in Urbino. Please note - special billing applies for tuiton remission, tuition exchange, Augustinian family scholars and ROTC students. Please contact the OEA for information. Please use the Cost Worksheet to estimate your costs for the program.


Villanova University has the right to make cancellations, substitutions, or changes in case of emergency or changed conditions, or in the interest of the program.

Program Snapshot


  • Program Duration: Semester Long
  • Credits: 16-18
  • Price: VU semester tuition - room and board included!