Italian Studies

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Program Overview

Italian Studies is an interdisciplinary minor that focuses on a nation and people whose contribution to civilization has been remarkably significant. Virtually every area of the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics partakes of that heritage, and Italy continues to influence cultural, political, scientific, and economic trends today.

Fairfield’s Italian Studies program offers students an opportunity to explore, analyze, and appreciate Italy from the perspectives of a variety of academic disciplines, including language, literature, film, art history, architecture, politics, history, philosophy, religion, science, and business. Courses are offered on Fairfield’s Connecticut campus, as well as abroad at our academic center in Italy located at Florence University of the Arts.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of Fairfield's affiliation with Florence University of the Arts and the Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences in Italy to experience the riches of Italian culture first-hand. As part of their studies, students can apply for an internship at a company or agency with operations or trade based in Italy. Overall, the program offers a genuinely pleasurable learning experience and provides many opportunities to explore career paths in a variety of field, including international business, education, journalism, the fine arts, and government, to name a few.


To complete a 15-credit minor in Italian Studies, students must demonstrate ability in the Italian language through the intermediate level. In as much as cultural mores and concepts are reflected and communicated in language, Fairfield believes that students must achieve minimal proficiency in the language to begin to access the country’s richness and complexity. Hence, all students pursuing the minor must meet this language expectation by successfully completing IT 211: Intermediate Italian, or by passing a placement test administered by University faculty that verifies competency through the intermediate level. Please note that completion of this requirement is not considered a prerequisite for coursework in the minor. Instead, students are permitted to begin minor coursework during or prior to fulfilling the language requirement.

At least four of the five Italian Studies required courses must be Italy-focused (dealing exclusively with Italy) or Italian language and literature courses numbered 211 or higher. The fifth course may be another Italy-focused course or it may be an Italy-component course in which half of the course material deals with Italy. Please note that no more than three of the five courses may be completed in a single discipline. A complete list of Italy-focused and Italy-component courses is available from the program director.

While study abroad is not required for completion of the minor, participation in the University’s programs in Florence, Italy (fall, spring, or summer sessions) is strongly encouraged. Italian studies courses are offered in a variety of fields and disciplines.

Course Offerings

Elementary Italian
Intermediate Italian
Italian for Professional Applications
Topics in Language and Culture (replaces IT 223)
Made in Italy
Creative Writing
The Language of Food in Italian Culture
Contemporary Italian Culture
The Novella
Theater in Italy: Comedy from Machiavelli to Fo
Rome in the Cultural Imagination*
Italian Cinema/Filmmaker Series*
Italian American Cinema*
Redefining the Cosmos: Voyages to the New World in the Italian Renaissance
Coordinating Seminar/Independent Study
Italian American Experience* **

*Taught in English

**Counts toward the U.S. diversity requirement

European Society in the Middle Ages
Roman Revolution
Roman World in Late Antiquity, 284-642 AD
Political Philosophy: Plato to Machiavelli
Modern Political Ideologies
European Politics
Modern Political Ideologies
European Politics
Voices of Medieval Women: Silent No More
The Papacy
Etruscan and Roman Art and Archaeology
Early Renaissance Art in Italy
Renaissance and Baroque Architecture
Baroque Art
Art and Mythologies of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Bolshevik Russia: Comparative Systems/Outcomes

Stag Spotlight

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Arlette Zoé Medina Rodríguez

Class of '20

Get to Know Arlette

Undergrad Degree: BS in Management with a minor in Italian Studies
Extracurricular Activities: Alpha Mu Gamma, Martial Arts Club, Equestrian Club

What were your reasons for choosing Fairfield University?

I chose Fairfield for its amazing study abroad opportunities, its student-to-faculty ratio, and its proximity to NYC. Knowing I would be far away from home, I liked the prospect of having my professors know me by name. After my college experience, I'm very happy to say all my professors were wonderful and willing to help me succeed academically and professionally.

What were the best aspects of your experience at Fairfield?

The best aspect of my experience at Fairfield was the opportunity to study abroad for a year and a half in Florence, Italy. The first time I went to Florence was for a semester during my sophomore year as part of the first Bellarmine Scholars cohort. I did most of my core and Italian Studies minor requirements over there. The second time, I spent a year in Florence completing my Management concentration in Hospitality and Tourism Management. This was the first time this program was offered, and I'm ecstatic I got to be part of it. I fully immersed myself in the Italian culture, and as a result, Florence became my second home. I made friends from all around the world, and I can say it's the highlight of my college career.

What interesting projects, research opportunity, or leadership experience were you involved in at Fairfield?

The best internships and leadership opportunities I had were during the Hospitality and Tourism Management program in Italy. I did some internships with the Italian university's restaurant. I was able to lead the entire FOH Brigade, learn about managing a wine cellar, and be the restaurant's maitre d' on special dinner nights. Outside of the university, I also interned at a bed and breakfast where I was able to assist the owners in managing the entire business for nine weeks. I hope students get inspired to apply to this program because it was a life-changing experience.

How have the opportunities offered to you through Fairfield helped you move closer to achieving your career goals?

Spending so much time abroad during my college career made me doubt my abilities to find a job after graduation. But having access to the Career Center and all their resources really helped boost my confidence. Thanks to all the amazing faculty and personnel at Fairfield, I'm proud to say that I already have a job lined up after graduation.

What would you tell a student who is considering attending Fairfield as an undergraduate?

Fairfield will challenge you to think critically and open your mind to a world of new possibilities. When I first arrived on campus, I wasn't sure what I wanted to study. I decided to take many different classes to see what stood out for me. Once you find those classes, let your professors challenge you. Participate in class and you will get the most out of it. Fairfield will help you grow as a person.

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Isabelle Seppa

Class of '20

Get to Know Isabelle

Undergrad Degree: BS in Molecular Biology, Minor in Italian Studies
Hometown: Northborough, MA
Extracurricular Activities: Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Sigma Nu, Honors Program, Sigma Xi, Bellarmine Scholars Program, Club Swim, Tour Ambassador, Undergraduate Research

What were your reasons for choosing Fairfield University?

I chose Fairfield not only for its strong biology program, but also for its diverse study abroad offerings. I wanted to study abroad in Firenze and not fall behind in classes, which Fairfield allowed me to do. I also chose Fairfield for the community and the extracurriculars.

Why did you choose your major?

I have always loved science experiments and realized my passion for research in high school. Through research I am able to study an important topic like breast cancer in a new way and hopefully come up with a study able to target prevention, staging or drug development.

What were the best aspects of your experience at Fairfield?

Studying abroad was my favorite experience at Fairfield. Through the Bellarmine Scholars program, I was able to explore not only Firenze but also various cities and town throughout Italy. Another aspect I enjoyed was being a tour guide for two years because it allowed me to tell potential students about the many qualities that make Fairfield special.

What interesting projects, research opportunity, or leadership experience were you involved in at Fairfield?

In order to complete my Italian studies minor, I added an independent study onto my curriculum. My mentor was Dr. Sara Diaz whom I met up with biweekly for progress updates. During the course of the semester, I looked at the 'brain drain' phenomenon with Italian scientists that have been occurring in Italy for the last few decades. My research analyzed potential reasons scientists had to leave Italy, as well as educational reforms in both Italy and the EU throughout the last 50 years. My thesis primarily focused on using data obtained from professors in biomedical programs at two universities in Italy, as well as a comparably ranked school in the United States.

What’s next for you after graduating from Fairfield?

I will be attending graduate school in the fall, but before that, I will be studying the tumor microenvironment of ovarian cancer. My program will allow me to focus on a variety of cancer types and experience various research technologies and methods. I was inspired to go to graduate school for cancer biology because I have volunteered at Camp Sunshine in Maine for the last five years. This camp provides weeklong retreats for families dealing with various types of cancer and other rare illnesses.

How have the opportunities offered to you through Fairfield helped you move closer to achieving your career goals?

My breast cancer research as well as my connections to professors in both the biology and Italian departments helped me move closer to my goal of going to graduate school. My experience and bonds with certain professors was instrumental in me getting into the Cancer Biology PhD program at Washington University. Without the faculty relationships, I would not have been able to have such strong letters of recommendations and enough experience to be considered a competitive applicant.

What would you tell a student who is considering attending Fairfield as an undergraduate?

I would tell them that Fairfield offers a diverse range of classes that allow students to develop new skills, learn about new cultures, and explore areas other than their majors. I would also tell them that the professors are always willing to go the extra mile.

Gregg Perlmutter headshot

Gregg Perlmutter

Class of '14

Get to Know Gregg

Undergrad Degree: Biology with Italian Studies minor
Hometown: Monroe, NY
Extracurricular Activities: Undergraduate research, Italian tutor, Foreign Language Honor Society

Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?

I chose to attend Fairfield University because small class sizes and location were very important to me.  Every professor knew me by name and I was not just a number in a lecture hall.  These small classes allowed me to interact with not only my classmates, but I was able to form relationships with my professors as well.  If I ever had a question, they were always willing to help.  Fairfield University is also very close to New York City and other major cities as well.  This provides many opportunities for students interested in internships during the school year.


Describe a project done through the program that you are particularly proud of

During my junior year, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy during my fall semester.  I decided to take on an internship with La Misericordia di Firenze, an organization that provides free medical services to those in need.  These services include transportation to and from hospitals, emergency services, food drives, and homes for the elderly.  I was a civil service volunteer and I went out on calls to pick up patients from their homes to bring them to an appointment.  I met so many interesting people and became friends with many of my patients that I saw multiple times.  I also worked with such amazing people that dedicated a lot of their time to this organization.  I was immersed into Italian culture through this experience because I was able to see so much of Florence that my peers never saw and my Italian grew because I was forced to use it.  Not many people I worked with knew a lot of English.  Experiencing another country’s culture and healthcare system was so rewarding and I highly suggest doing something out of your comfort zone while abroad. 


What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

The Italian Studies faculty is one of the best on campus!  They are extremely supportive and want you to succeed as a student.  The program is great and I can personally say that my Italian improved tremendously through writing, speaking and reading different novels.  It was through them that I learned of the many different internships I could take on while abroad and they really encouraged me to do one.  The professors are always there for you and are willing to help in class as well as during office hours.  They are extremely passionate about their work and I can personally thank Dr. MaryAnn Carolan for strengthening my interest in Italian culture and language.  I not only grew academically, but as an individual as well thanks to the amazing Italian Studies faculty.

More About Italian Studies

Life After Fairfield

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Life After Fairfield

An understanding of Italian language and culture greatly enhances students' career opportunities in an increasingly global world. As Italy's role in the European Union becomes more prominent, prospective employers in international business, education, journalism, the fine arts, government, and nonprofit organizations seek well-educated young women and men who have a background in Italian Studies.

Learn how Fairfield's Career Services can support your post-graduate goals, and how our tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

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Diversity and Inclusive Excellence

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As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Fairfield is dedicated to diversity and inclusion; to radical hospitality in service of racial, social, and economic justice.

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The College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University is home to a vibrant community of engaged faculty, dedicated staff and budding scholars devoted to the process of invention and discovery and excited by the prospect of producing knowledge in the service of others. Meet the dedicated members of our Italian Studies Program.

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