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UTSA signs agreement with the University of Siena

New agreement will help launch faculty-led study abroad program, The Classical World.

By Sherrie Voss Matthews, International Media & Marketing Coordinator

Through collaboration with a long-time colleague, William Short has created the first UTSA education abroad experience with the Universita Degli Studi di Siena.

Universita Degli Studi di Siena is one of the oldest universities and the first public university in Italy. The university was originally called Studium Senese; it was founded in 1240. The university has remained open to educate students for nearly 800 years, except for a brief period it was closed under Napoleonic rule in the 1800s. 

“It is extremely valuable to have a study abroad program that is conducted in collaboration with a university of this caliber,” says Julius Gribou, UTSA executive vice provost and senior international officer. “The program is embedded and takes place on Siena’s campus; it is an ideal way to conduct a study abroad with a foreign university.” 

The international agreement between the two universities was witnessed in October 2011 with Francesca Marzari, collaborator of the Center Anthropology of the Ancient World, University of Siena,  Alessandra Viviani, Vice Rector for International Relations, University of Siena, Maurizio Bettini, director of the Center Anthropology of the Ancient World, University of Siena and Annalisa Poggialini, director of the International Relations Division, University of Siena.

 “This is the perfect situation for students who want to study the ancient world,” Short explains.

William Short, assistant professor in COLFA Philosophy & Classics, was integral to the creation of the agreement between the two universities. Short had collaborated with Maurizio Bettini previously, first as a doctoral student and then in organizing UTSA’s Brackenridge Classics Symposium, where Bettini was keynote speaker.  Following the symposium in November 2011, the two mulled over ideas on how to create a study abroad program for students in classics.

“Study abroad opportunities that are specifically geared to classics and the ancient world are very rare,” Short explains. “For a classics student or any student interested in the ancient world there’s perhaps only one other program.”

The Classical World, a four-week course, will be based at the Universita Degli Studi di Siena. It is a workshop in which students will be engaged in "hands-on" study of classical antiquity. The course will involve a series of seminars that will explore major themes of the anthropology of the ancient world, including myth and religion, kinship and family, the relationship of the human and animal worlds, images and economy and trade.

This will be a research-intensive study abroad program. Students will be expected to do their own research, studying these themes in literature, art and archeology through on-site visits to museums and other places of historical, archeological, cultural importance around Siena. Trips to Volterra, Pisa, Florence, Tarquinia, Volci and Rome will be included.

Siena has been central to studies of the ancient world. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city has roots that date past the founding of Rome. An Etruscan tribe inhabited the area long before Rome rose to prominence. Siena remained critical throughout the ancient world and medieval history.

The interdisciplinary nature of classical studies at the Center for the Anthropology of the Ancient World offers students from all disciplines a true opportunity to work with academics at the cutting-edge of classical research. Classicists, art historians, anthropologists, and archeologists all work together to study the anthropology of the ancient world, Short explains.

The study abroad will be team-taught by UTSA and Siena professors. Two of the world’s leading scholars of classics will be teaching UTSA students in the program.

Courses will be taught in English. Knowledge of Latin or Greek would be helpful, but is not required.

This collaboration is a first for the University of Siena. The university has opened its courses to international students for many years, however this is the first time that it has allowed an American university to teach its courses on the Siena campus for college credit toward an American university degree without having to do an academic transfer of courses.

It has more than 20,000 students, which comprise nearly half of the city of Siena’s total population. The university supports nine schools, which are spread throughout the city. Its famous alumni include Pope John XXI. 

The university is also home to several museums, including University Archives and Museum; University Service Centre for the Protection and Promotion of Siena’s Ancient Scientific Heritage (CUTVAP); Prehistory and Classical and Medieval Archaeology Collections; “L. Comparini” Museum of Human Anatomy; Botanical Gardens and Herbarium; National Antarctic Museum; Earth Sciences Museum and a multitude of online and physical resources from the medieval and Classical eras.

For more information: http://colfa.utsa.edu/pc/tcw  or contact  Short at william.short@utsa.edu.

Application to the program will open Nov. 14. Deadline to apply is Feb. 15, 2012.