The Winter School

The Winter School offers students a unique opportunity to spend the winter term in Italy in a program designed to provide a stimulating, multi-disciplinary foundation for programs in Arts and beyond. While it is especially designed for first and second year students, students in any year of their undergraduate program are eligible to apply.

Exchange the lecture hall for small seminars, intensive feedback and experiential learning through field trips and inspiring visiting speakers in the mentorship series, while making life-long friendships.

Students take a minimum of three courses. Through these courses, students discover how enduring ideas equip us to better understand our world and the challenges of the future.

The centrepiece of the academic program is the 3C seminar: Critical Thinking, Creativity and Complexity. This core seminar, which all students take, ties the themes of the courses together. It helps students build crucial skills of critical thinking, complex problem solving, writing and making interdisciplinary connections. Small class sizes, interaction and intensive feedback allow students to develop these essential skills. 

You don't have to speak Italian to study in Cortona. The courses are taught in English and a conversational Italian course helps students learn enough to get by and introduces students to Italian culture. All of the courses are University of Alberta courses, so there is no need to arrange for transfer credits.

Winter 2023

All Cortona courses include field trips.

INT D 225 Capstone Seminar: Complexity, Creativity, and Critical thinking. 

Dr. Marco Pacioni, Dr. Lori Thorlakson, and Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell

All students take this interdisciplinary core seminar, led by professors Pacioni, Thorlakson and Rockwell. Students will learn to apply different disciplinary perspectives to complex problems that we face in the world, such as our ability to work together to address climate change, the way in which technology affects privacy and autonomy, and our capacity to form shared communities and build and maintain trust and shared understandings. We also explore how historical and cross-cultural perspectives can lead to new insights on complex, pressing problems. This seminar includes field trips and allows students to pursue their own project.

HADVC 211 Renaissance City

Dr. Marco Pacioni

In 1347-1351, the Black Death, a widespread and catastrophic epidemic, created economic,
social and religious upheaval across Europe. It is from this disaster that the Renaissance city emerged. What is the Renaissance city and why is it important? New structures such as wide and straight streets, palaces, offices, gardens, fountains, theatres and villas appeared in the landscape and created the modern forms that in many cases we can still experience in today’s cities. The course will focus on the cultural background, the architecture and the arts that contributed to the Renaissance city, as well as on the social changes that occurred in it. Field trips to Florence, Rome and Ferrara, as well as on-site lessons at Cortona will allow us to observe the original structures of the Renaissance City and compare them with the components of today’s cities.

CLASS 299 The Archaeology of Ancient Italy

Dr. Eleonora Sandrelli

Surveying Ancient Italy from ca. 800 BC to 200 AD, this course includes field trips to a number of key archaeological sites and a discussion of the main cultures of Ancient Italy: the Greek colonies in Southern Italy, the Etruscans in Central Italy, the indigenous people in inland areas, and the Romans who unified all of Italy. Ancient Italy’s influence in the foundation of the Renaissance, the concept of Western Civilization and the present-day Italy will be discussed.
Through visits to the Cortona Arcaeological Museum and nearby archaeological sites, and two overnight field trips, one to pre-Roman Roccagloriosa and to the Greek and Roman Paestum, and a second field trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum, students will learn how, what and why modern societies remember through museums and of the use and restoration of ancient sites today. Prerequisites waived.

INT D 325 The World of Dante: History, Politics, and Arts

by Dr. Marco Pacioni

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) can be considered one of the leading poets of the late Middle-Ages and pre-Renaissance. His most important work, The Divine Comedy, is a literary landmark, a synthesis of political, religious, and art views, as well as an encyclopedic summary of medieval culture. This course explores these different but connected dimensions, in the context of western civilization, allowing students to recognize differences and to establish analogies between Dante’s world and our modern contemporary world. The course features guided tours to Cortona and field trips to other Italian cities (Assisi, Rome, Florence, Ravenna), as well as the visits at the Commune Library of Cortona to see manuscripts and 15 th -16 th century editions of the Comedy will be an important component of the class activities. This offers the possibility to study Dante’s work in conjunction with some of the places, urban-architecture-artworks, and documents that are relevant to understand Dante’s itinerary of thought and its heritage.

INT D 125 Introduction to Italian Language and Culture

Through this introduction to Italian culture, you will gain the basic skills to communicate
effectively in your daily interactions and a better appreciation of the similarities and differences between Italy and Canada. You will also gain an appreciation of modern Italian culture. Learn about the ‘real’ Italy and how to not only survive but thrive as you go to classes. Field trips will be to Siena and Chiusi.