Meaningful learning is often best obtained through acute awareness and active experience. Science in Florence offers iterations of two science-major courses, Introductory Biochemistry (BCH 3053) and Historical Perspectives of Chemistry. Both are full-immersion courses in which students investigate and experience chemistry, biochemistry, and other scientific topics and methods of every day life from the perspective of Florence, Italy.
We will begin with an investigation of an historical perspective, connecting notable scientific findings to this storied region. These investigations will assist students in developing their abilities to analyze, interpret, and draw conclusions from scientific data in contextually interesting ways. To this end, the investigations will involve classes held at local universities/culinary schools, “field” work/tours, and “lectures” by professors from local universities such as the University of Florence. Our first investigations will include visits to the History of Science Museum/Museo Galileo and explorations of the importance and utility of units; the concepts of matter, measurement, mass, weight, density, energy, and heat will be examined through various lenses and local contexts. Thus we will actively explore the importance of understanding the underlying science, its connectivity, and how this information can assist humans to uncover and adopt appropriate dynamics with the environment in which we live—that is, a dynamic equilibrium based on evidence-based information.
Active problem-based investigations into scientific and chemical principles will entail student engagement with local gardening (e.g., olive trees, grapes), food (e.g., cooking class, food chemistry dinner), and wine (fermentation). These investigations in turn will provide the foundations for students’ learning portfolios and/or final projects—much as visas constitute a passport. Visits to regionally significant venues in Rome, Venice, Pisa (e.g., Archaeology Antiquarium, Leaning Tower of Pisa), Prato (Museo del Tessuto), Florence and surrounding areas will support students’ efforts to investigate and obtain samples from olive groves, vineyards, cooking schools, and restaurants, which will provide cultural and scientific substance to a travel log/journal learning portfolio/passport. In this process, we will explore questions such as, What are the differences between the types of fats and lipids? Why might we care? Why do we need carbohydrates and proteins? What kind of creatures would we be without catalysts and enzymes? Further investigations will include explorations into how specific wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (e.g., light) possess a characteristic amount of energy that can trigger chemical reactions. We will explore reactions associated with the eye and vision, photosynthesis, and so forth. Furthermore, we will examine how these and other chemical and scientific principles, including oxidation and reduction, antioxidants, and kinetics, relate to plants and the production and metabolism of our food and beverages. Scientific principles will guide us in understanding art restoration and preservation as we visit local architecture, art, and photography museums and galleries. We will follow the development of photography from its early plates and chemical reactions through its evolution to modern digital iterations. Visits and engagement with industrial, medical, pharmaceutical, and academic research facilities will give insights into the importance of catalysts, stereochemistry, precision and accuracy, and basic and applied research investments. We will wrap up our exploratory journey by investigating and considering regional cultural differences in concerns regarding the environment (e.g., pollution, global warming, acid rain) and advances in the sciences (e.g., cloning, genetically modified foods, gene therapy).
Ultimately, all students will share their passports with their colleagues, by presenting a final project that demonstrates what they have learned and how they have grown to think differently and innovatively about the interplay of chemical and scientific principles with cultural and global concerns. Students will leave the course better able to appreciate, appeal to, and apply scientific and chemical principles when making informed decisions in a global context.
Optional: Cultural Introduction to Italy 1-Week Program (June 18 - June 25) - (The cost for this optional program is $1300.00, in addition to the Total Program Cost)
Students enrolled in the 6-week USF Science in Florence Program may also elect to take part in the optional Cultural Introduction to Italy 1-week program, which will take place the week prior to the start of their 6-week Science Session.
This one-week intensive course is intended to provide students with an in-depth introduction to Italian culture and to broaden one’s awareness and understanding of the role of cultural heritage in customs and lifestyles. Lectures will provide students with an organized, focused, and academic understanding of Italian history, art, architecture, food, religion, and culture. The course provides additional enrichment through basic notions of Italian language and terminology. On-site teaching is a significant part of this course which aims to teach students how to become active visitors and not passive tourists, while understanding a culture beyond its stereotypes. This cultural program will include visits to Rome, Assisi, Florence, Perugia, and Viterbo.
Students in this optional 1-week program will be enrolled in the course Cultural Introduction to Italy (HUM 4941 - 3 credit hours) in addition to the 6 credit hours they will complete as part of the 6-week USF Science in Florence Program.
Please enjoy this beautiful video about the program, produced by Professor Steve Cooke (former Florence Program Director): https://vimeo.com/151569447