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  • Locations: Florence, Italy; Padova, Italy; Pisa, Italy; Venice, Italy
  • Program Terms: Spring Break
  • Eligibility: Please see below for requirements.
  • Budget Sheets:: Spring Break
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirements:
Eligibility Requirements:
Degree Seeking
Level of Study:
Graduate, Undergraduate
Open to:
USF Students Only
Credit Offered:
USF Credit
Program Advisor:
Jim Pulos
Minimum GPA:
Sponsoring College:
Behavioral and Community Sciences
Program Primary Subject:
Social Sciences
Program Description:

Program Overview


USF partners with the Florence University of the Arts (FUA), in collaboration with the University of Florida, to present this Spring Break Study Abroad Program.

The area of concentration will examine:

Global Perspectives in Mental Illness and Treatment

The participating student will gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of mental health treatment in the United States and in Italy by comparing individual and societal attitudes and treatment philosophies and models.

Students will learn about the changes in perception of mental illnesses from possession by the Devil, sorcery, and lunacy as influenced by the moon, and explore how treatment philosophies have evolved from exorcism, electro conclusive (shock) treatment and (ice pick) lobotomy. They will also study how the loci of treatment has moved from the institution to the community, and consider how advances, or lack thereof, in medical research and use of psychotropic medications impacts the treatment strategies. Further, students will explore the impact of evidence-based practices combined with growth of recovery and positive approaches to treatment has evolved in the United States and European countries.

FUA, our host institution, provides a centrally located classroom site and facilities including library and computer lab, as well as a cultural program that augments classroom study. The program provides carefully-selected apartment housing within walking distance of the institute.

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ponteThe glory of Florence is rooted in its past. The Medicis commanded the city's fortunes for centuries and, as patrons, they encouraged the Renaissance's influence on the city. Visitors from all over the world come to admire the magnetic charm of the Baptistry, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Uffizi, Pitti Palace, and the Ponte Vecchio.

Despite its pivotal role in the history of civilization, and its significance as an artistic and cultural center, Florence retains the bustle and charm of a small town in a bygone age. Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Cosmopolitan, and yet with all modern conveniences, Florence, perhaps more than any other city, is a tapestry describing Europe's emergence from the dark ages through to the 21st century. In addition to all that Florence offers to program participants, there are many opportunities to explore the picturesque Tuscan countryside, and surrounding towns such as Pisa and Siena. An efficient rail system connects Florence with Rome, northern Italy and the rest of Europe.

Considered one of the most romantic cities of the world, Venice is made up of a collection of more than 110 small islands, connected by a web of canals and bridges. The city appears to be floating in the Venetian lagoon, calm and serene yet oddly threatened by the nearby Adriatic Sea. Influenced by both eastern and western cultures, this once bustling part city has tons to offer visitors from all walks of life.

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Host Institution

davidThe seat of the Florence University of the Arts (FUA) is located in the historic Palazzo Doni, just a few steps from the splendid Piazza Santa Croce in the quarter of Florence that takes its name from the celebrated church. During the Renaissance period, the Palazzo Doni housed famous works of art: the most significant of these is Michelangelo's round painting of the Holy Family – the so called Tondo Doni, now in the Uffizi Gallery. The great Renaissance painter, Raphael, lived in the palace while painting the portraits of the proprietor Agnolo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi; a marble plaque marking his stay can be found in the archway connecting the courtyard to the street, thus sealing his presence and artistic spirit within the walls of the present-day institution.

The students therefore operate and cultivate their experiences in a suggestive and pervasive frame of influence dating back to an illustrious past. Upon entering the two palaces that house the university, students find themselves immersed in a modern, minimalist interior in which carefully preserved vestiges of the past manifest themselves in a harmonious environment dedicated to the advancement of artistic disciplines. One has the possibility of learning the latest technological procedures of a given media, such as video in a lecture hall graced by original Renaissance wooden ceiling beams and other such architectural gems that abound in the interiors and exteriors of both the Palazzo Doni and Palazzo Guicciardini-Strozzi, located just across the street.

The interior work-spaces of Florence University of the Arts are extremely well outfitted, whether for laboratorial and hands-on or theoretic courses. The three media labs are used for courses in Digital Photography, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Fashion & Accessory Design, and Video Production. The Painting Room in Palazzo Doni, dedicated to Raphael, is a vast and well equipped space, illuminated by numerous windows that give a prominent view overlooking the Biblioteca Nazionale. The study spaces dedicated to the students are very comfortable and include a spacious library with reading room, stations for online research, and an open computer lab composed of twenty workstations featuring internet access. In addition, there is an art lab for ceramics and other disciplines such as mixed media and sculpture, a technologically advanced dark room for classic photography, and jewelry laboratories.

These same areas are utilized as gallery space for occasions such as student exhibitions and temporary events that unfold in an exterior panorama equally rich in historical context. The heart of Palazzo Strozzi, the outdoor courtyard around which the edifice is structured, has stayed virtually unchanged since original construction and lends a breathing openness to the palazzo thanks to large windows facing towards the courtyard. The rear garden courtyard flanking the Arno side of Palazzo Guiccardini provides an elegant outdoor component to the above-mentioned events with its trellised, plant-adorned walls and expansive views of the Oltrarno district of Florence.

Florence University of the Arts (FUA) offers the possibility of studying while living immersed in a culturally advanced atmosphere that has rendered Florence one of the most famous art centers in the world. Our students have the advantage of exercising the continuous evolution of artistic practice and theory supported by two architectural bastions that keep alive Florentine tradition, culture, and the unforgettable moment in human history we call the Renaissance.

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Academic Program and Course Information

Global Perspectives in the Treating of Mental Illnesses

MHS 4931 (3 credit hours) or MHS 6900 (3 credit hours)

Syllabus can be found here: CAF Global Perspectives, Florence 201701

Please note: All students must enroll independently for this course through regular on-campus registration and pay the accompanying on-campus tuition.

Tentative Itinerary. Please note that itinerary is subject to change:

2018 Tentative Itinerary.pdf


Credit Type

Students enrolled in this program will be enrolled in direct USF credit.

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Holly Hills, Ph.D., is Chair of the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at USF where she has been a faculty member since 1990. In addition to her teaching and research duties at USF, she does training and consulting with service providers and systems focused on improving care for persons with serious mental illness and addictive disorders.  Dr. Hills is a licensed clinical psychologist having received her Ph.D. in clinical and health psychology from the University of Florida.  She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for a large substance abuse treatment agency in Tampa, Florida. 
Dr. Hills has previously taught Adult Psychopathology in the Community to students majoring in psychology, health sciences, criminology, and behavioral healthcare.  She also teaches Epidemiology of Mental Disorders at the graduate level to students in the School of Public Health and the Department of Child and Family Studies.  Dr. Hill has been a principal investigator or collaborator on work funded by SAMHSA, NIDA, ACHA, the MacArthur Foundation, and from other state and local sources.  Her work has involved  conducted both process and outcome evaluations on topics covering the adoption of innovation in community-based service settings, issues related to trauma experience, and service integration for persons with co-occurring disorders in adolescent and adult populations. She has evaluated the cost benefits of retention in substance abuse treatment as it relates to access and service utilization in the physical health care system, the identification of substance use risk in pregnant women, and paths to and access to care in opioid dependent populations.   A significant proportion of her work has focused on the interface between the justice and community-based behavioral health care systems. 
Dr. Hills has traveled throughout Italy and has a limited level of language proficiency in Italian.  She is working to improve her language proficiency and has previously achieved diplomatic language proficiency in French.  All lectures in the US and Italy delivered by Dr. Hills will be in English as this is the anticipated first language of program participants.  Guest lectures will be presented in Italian with translators organized by the FUA. 

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Program Costs

Total Program Cost Range: $TBA

Program Cost Includes:

• Accommodation in hotel in shared rooms, private bath, in center of Florence and center of Venice. Breakfast included.
• Listed lectures, workshops and visits as listed on day by day itinerary (including eventual fees and reservation)
• Orientation session and orientation/information folder
• Cell phones for participants (outgoing calls will be charged individually)
• Internet access during school hours
• Welcome dinner
• Transportation via public transportation (Venice) or private bus for visits and field trips
• International Health Insurance
• Field trips as listed on the itinerary

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The following items are not included in the program cost listed above:

  • 3 undergraduate or graduate credit hours (on-campus tuition rates apply)
  • Passport fees ($250.00)
  • International airfare ($1,100-1,400)
  • Airport pick-up on arrival and drop-off on departure
  • Meals, other than those listed on the itinerary (many economical small restaurants and cafes near the Institute); $150-200 (estimate)

*Please note that this is a conservative estimate and is not intended to cover costs related to cell phone usage, nor does it provide significant funds for entertainment or personal spending (gifts and souvenirs, which depending on taste and quality can be quite expensive).

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Living Arrangements


Accommodation in hotel in shared rooms, private bath, in center of Florence and center of Venice. Breakfast included.

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Who Can Participate?

The program is open to students of any major, 18 years of age or older with an interest in the subject area. Please note that there are no course prerequisites.

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How to Apply


Upon completing the Education Abroad online application a $500.00 deposit will be placed on your OASIS account, and you will be given a form to take with you to the Cashier's Office to remit payment.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline for applying for the program is January 20, 2017. Subject to availability, additional registrations may be accepted after this date.

All applicants must submit a signed course approval forms must be submitted to the Education Abroad Office in order to be accepted into the program.

Please click on the link below to obtain the program's Course Approval Form:
CAF Florence Spring Break 201701

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How and When to Pay

Please click here for further details regarding payment.

Getting There


You will be responsible for reserving and purchasing your international transportation to Florence. Please do not purchase your air ticket until you have been advised to do so by the program coordinator. They will advise participants of a group-designated flight schedule. All who wish to travel with others in the program will receive this information well in advance so they can book these flights. You must provide the program coordinator with your final flight itinerary.

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Medical Insurance and Travel Documentation

USF provides program participants with sickness/accident and emergency medical evacuation insurance for the dates of the program. Those who will travel independently, either in advance of the program or after the program ends, must ensure that they have insurance coverage that is valid outside the U.S. If not provided through your domestic health insurance carrier, this can be purchased separately through CISI or through another agency. The USF Card Center sells the International Student ID Card (ISIC), which has a health insurance benefit in addition to providing student discounts overseas. For information, call the Card Center at (813) 974-2357 or visit the office located in the Marshall Center on the USF Tampa campus.

U.S. citizens must have a valid U.S. passport with at least one year of validity remaining on the passport. Non-U.S. citizens should check with the Italian consulate in Miami and with their own country's consulate regarding visa requirements.

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Financial Aid and Scholarship Funding


Students who are eligible for loans and grants to take classes at USF may be able to use their assistance to study abroad. USF students should contact the University of South Florida Office of Financial Aid (813) 974-4700 or visit for further information. Students attending other universities should apply to their home institutions for financial aid. Please inform the Education Abroad Office early if you expect to receive financial aid. Note that students are responsible for meeting program payment deadlines regardless of financial aid disbursement time-frame.

The Education Abroad Office offers Compass Study Abroad Scholarships for study abroad. These are partial scholarships awarded on a competitive basis. Please visit:

Funding Page for application information and deadlines.

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Safety & Health

Participant's safety and well-being are paramount to USF. Please click here for detailed country-specific safety and health information given in our Country Study Report. Make sure to read up on country-specific information on the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites. Because of the added stresses associated with operating in a foreign culture and language, even the safest foreign locations are likely to carry more risk to your safety and health. For this reason it is vital that you learn as much about the places you will be traveling to as possible; the more you are familiar with the host country's geography, culture and language, the safer you will be. All participants will be required to attend a general study abroad orientation as well as program-specific orientations. In addition to these sessions, you should consult the USF Safety website as well as the websites listed below that provide useful information regarding your host country, and preparation for your international travel.


Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing, theft from parked cars, and purse snatching are serious problems, especially in large cities. Pick-pockets sometimes dress like businessmen. You should not be lulled into a false sense of security by believing that well-dressed individuals are not potential pick-pockets or thieves. Most reported thefts occur at crowded tourist sites, on public buses or trains, or at the major railway stations: Rome's Termini; Milan's Centrale; Florence's Santa Maria Novella; and Naples' Centrale and Piazza Garibaldi. You should also be alert to theft in Milan's Malpensa Airport, particularly at car rental agencies. Clients of Internet cafes in major cities are also targeted. Be careful with your bag or purse, as thieves on motor scooters are very quick and can snatch a purse off of your arm from a moving scooter. Resisting these thieves can be hazardous, as some tourists have suffered broken arms and collarbones.

Thieves in Italy often work in groups or pairs. Pairs of accomplices or groups of children are known to divert tourists' attention so that another can pick-pocket them. In one particular routine, one thief throws trash, waste or ketchup at the victim; a second thief assists the victim in cleaning up the mess; and the third discreetly takes the victim's belongings. Criminals on crowded public transportation slit the bottoms of purses or bags with a razor blade or sharp knife removing the contents.

Some travelers in Rome, Florence and Naples have reported incidents where criminals used drugs to assault or rob them. These incidents have been reported near Rome's Termini train station, at bars and cafes near Rome's Colisseum, Colle Oppio, Campo de Fiori, and Piazza Navona, and at bars or cafes in the center of Florence and Naples. Criminals using this tactic "befriend" you at a train station, restaurant, café, or bar, and then offer you a drink laced with a sleeping drug. When you fall asleep, criminals steal your valuables and may sexually assault you. Some victims of these assaults in Rome have required hospitalization.

Thieves are also known to have impersonated police officers in order to steal. The thief shows you a circular plastic sign with the words "police" or "international police" and then in perfect English asks to see your identification and your money. If this happens to you, you should insist on seeing the officer's identification card (documento), before handing over your wallet as impersonators tend not to carry forged documents. You should immediately report thefts or other crimes to the actual police.

Additional information will be provided to registered participants, but we encourage you to consult the following websites as soon as possible.

USF Education Abroad Safety Website:

US Department of State:

Country Specific Information:

Preparing for your trip:

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Special Terms

Students should review carefully the Education Abroad Participant Contract, included in the Education Abroad application process. It describes students' responsibilities with regard to participation, and includes information on insurance, and cancellation and refund policies. Students will be asked to electronically sign this document. To view this document before applying, please click here.

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Contacts for More Information

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Mr. James D. Pulos
Associate Director
Education Abroad Office, USF World
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Avenue, CGS 101
Tampa, Florida 33620-5550
Phone: (813) 974-4043
Fax: (813) 974-4613

Dr. Holly Hills
Mental Health Law & Policy/CBCS
Tampa Campus, MHC 2718
Phone: (813) 974-1923

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This program is currently not accepting applications.