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Florence - Benefits by Major

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The Florence curriculum has a strong humanistic core in recognition of the fact that "studying the humanities - deeply engaging with other societies, with other ways of seeing and ways of doing - is important for living in a globalized world."* In fact, the city of Florence and Palazzo Capponi itself are ideal loci for shaping you as students, scholars, and humanists. Because the humanities are central to all fields of study, focusing on them in Florence represents a solid and important departure point for students of all disciplines and majors and prepares you for all future academic, personal, and professional endeavors.

As late Professor of English J. Martin Evans states in his defense of the humanities entitled, What Good Are the Humanities? Why they clash with U.S. culture today, and why they matter: “For here, in the middle of an electronic revolution, we humanists are saying to our students: look back for a moment, too; listen to the past. Look out for a moment as well; listen to other cultures. Think not only about where we are going but how we got to be where we are. Let these humanistic materials we are studying do something to you instead of trying to do something to them.” It is, in fact, this deep study and understanding of the past that will open your mind and inform your aesthetic. It will also provide you with a unique and innovative vision and literacy that will serve you well in all disciplines, from the social and natural sciences, to business and engineering. Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram, in a recent interview with Forbes Magazine, spoke of his experience at the Program as being nothing short of life-changing: "I think going to Florence and taking this photography class, experiences like that are what kind of shape your perspective on the world."

Studying in Florence means familiarizing yourself with a culture and civilization that will make you aware of forces operating in our current societies. Delving into the past will not only help you focus on the similarities but will also teach you a real sense of difference and the recognition and acceptance of others not as mere reflections of ourselves.

* Debra Satz, Stanford's Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities and Arts, as published in Stanford Magazine.

Anthropology/Sociology/CSRE/Feminist Studies/STS/Philosophy/Religious Studies/Film Studies

If you are a major in any of the aforementioned fields, you have a wealth of courses from which to choose in any given quarter. Courses in the social sciences, the arts, and the humanities are offered on a regular basis.

Computer Science

A rather popular book entitled, Silicon Valley: 110 Year Renaissance, compares the revolution brought about by information technology to that which perspective was introduced in the Renaissance world. In Florence, you can learn about the latter in order to understand and contribute to the former. Computer Science majors can also benefit a great deal from a period of time in Florence since awareness of another culture, the development of language skills and a new environment can all inform your understanding of the way technology and humans interact and intersect.


It is very exciting time to be studying Italian and European economics in a country where history is unfolding. As an Economics major studying in Florence, which is also the birthplace of banking as we know it, you can enroll in a variety of courses depending on the quarter(s) you choose. There are classes that grant credit in the major and provide the opportunity to understand the politics and economics of the European Union, the introduction of the Euro, its downfall and the current crisis. 


Florence represents a unique opportunity to study the past, present and future of engineering technology. Engineering majors can attempt to solve some of the many conundrums that the great Renaissance engineers left as their legacy. From a privileged vantage point you will be able to study marvels such as Brunelleschi’s Dome or the Leaning Tower of Pisa (among others), still today considered to be some of the greatest engineering feats of all time. Majors can also take OSPFLOR 50 or SCPD Courses (offered every quarter) and should also check our course listings since we often have visiting faculty from the School of Engineering.

Human Biology

In the words of Garry Gold, one of our former visiting faculty members, “Florence is the home of understanding the human body, human anatomy, and art. It is the perfect place for Hum Bio Majors to spend time overseas.” In fact, human biology majors can study the history of science and see for themselves how anatomy was first conceived and depicted in painting and sculpture. They can also visit the Specola Museum and study highly accurate anatomical wax models, visit some of Italy’s great “operating theaters”, choose from a selection of classes that grant credit in the major, or take an internship in a related field.


If your major is Management Science and Engineering or a similar one, you may want to speak with Professor Tom Byers, a former visiting faculty member, who believes that MS&E majors (and others especially in engineering and science) have much to gain by studying in Florence. The classes he taught on entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership examined the connection between Silicon Valley and Italy today as well as the time of the Florentine Renaissance. For example, there is much to learn and to gain by examining how the major elements of Silicon Valley’s style and philosophy regarding entrepreneurship compare with the “key success factors” of innovators that lived in the Renaissance.

Product Design/Architecture/Urban Studies

Italy, one of the great capitals of industrial design today, is the ideal place to take an internship and gain hands-on experience in the fields of architecture, fashion, design or even work alongside an artisan. Students can take studio art classes at the Accademia Italiana and art history courses at Stanford.