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Florence Summer Program

Looking down on Florence, Italy at sunrise.
Open to all university students, the Florence Summer Program provides an interdisciplinary learning environment to study Architecture, Art, and Art History. You will spend two months broadly examining visual culture as a social, political, and aesthetic construct through an art history course and either an architecture or art studio.

Collaborative in nature, the studios use drawing and design as a medium for exploration and visual experimentation, as you study the nuanced layers of history within the dynamic context of contemporary life. Work in studios extends into the streets of Florence and surrounding cities, allowing you to engage the full cultural landscape of contemporary Europe. The small size of the program allows you to work closely with professors in developing a body of work that is highly personalized, culminating in well-developed final projects.


Students select one studio.
Students stand on a cobblestone street in Florence and listen to an instructor talking and gesturing.

Architecture Studio

Architecture as Solid and Void (6 Credits)
Faculty: Shantel Blakely

The architectural work can be thought of as a sculptural object or as a configuration of shaped space, with distinct implications for what architecture is and what it can do. We will explore the manipulation of solid and void in the work of several architects, and look at the buildings of Florence through these lenses using study models and analytical drawings. The final project will be a medium-sized building for a local site, represented in hand drawings, physical models, and projected images. Counts as a 300 or 400 elective studio.

Person stands in front of a museum display of an elaborately gilded door and draws in their sketchbook.

Art Studio

From Film to Drones: Exploring Florentine Spaces through Photography (6 Credits)
Faculty: Meghan Kirkwood

This studio explores strategies for interpreting and representing urban and rural spaces through a range of photographic media. Using the Florentine landscape as our subject, we will consider how black-and-white film photography, digital imaging, and drones can explore the social, political, and environmental histories that make up a given environment. Travel to Venice and other locations in Tuscany will complement studio work in Florence. This course is open to students from all disciplines and there are no prerequisites. For Studio Art Students, this counts as a 3-credit Art Practice Class + a 3-credit Art Elective class. For Design Students, this counts as a 6-credit SFS elective class.

All students take Art History and Italian Language.
Students sit in pews in an elaborately decorated cathedral while and instructor talks.

Art History

Rethinking Renaissance Visual Culture (3 Credits)
Faculty: Katharina Giraldi-Haller

This course explores the complexities, innovations, and magnificence of two centuries of history through its visual production: architecture, painting, sculpture, etc. It challenges the established understanding of Renaissance Florence as a cohesive phenomenon, instead constructing a more diverse notion of Florence’s aesthetic language. Emphasis is placed on those motifs that permit interdisciplinary connections to drawing, design, and architecture that you explore in your studio courses in Florence. Beyond the assigned textbooks, your visual guide is the city of Florence itself.

Student Work from Florence Summer

Any WashU student can study abroad in the Florence Summer Program. Students must:

  • Apply on time
  • Have and maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Be in good academic and behavioral standing with the University
  • Attend the two mandatory prep meetings before departing for the program

There is no language prerequisite for the summer program.

Students apply at beginning in September 2021.You will write a short essay about your interest in going abroad and what it will bring to your academics and personal experience. You will also submit the name and contact information for two references. More details are given in the application.

Upon successful completion, you receive a total of 9 credits:

  • 6 credits of art or architecture studio
  • 3 credits of art and architecture history

For Sam Fox School students, the studio and history courses count toward your major, including as Sam Fox School Elective courses. These credits may also count toward a minor in design, art, or architecture, or fulfill the Humanities credit for engineering students.

Program Dates May 30-July 30, 2022

Living in Florence Students share furnished apartments with fully equipped kitchens, and can walk to any destination in the old city within 20 minutes. Estimated costs per person: Double occupancy rooms - $2,000. Single occupancy room - $2,400.

Passports & Student Visas Students obtain their own passports, which must be valid for 6 months after the program concludes. The School can assist with your visa application process.

Tuition & Financial Aid A limited number of scholarships are available, based on need and merit. Please indicate on your application if you are seeking financial assistance. Tuition is $12,798. Students are responsible for airfare, food, art supplies, and books. Allow for an additional $1,800 to $2,000 for course materials, field trips, museum passes, etc.