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Last Updated 2/7/2014

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Siena School for Liberal Arts

Via pannilunghi, 10
  • The school

Located in the center of Siena in a magnificent turn-of-the-century villa, the Siena School for Liberal Arts offers you a unique study abroad experience in one of the oldest and most beautiful university towns in Italy. Through the Siena School you will want to go beyond merely observing the life of this beautiful city; you will be drawn into dialogue with the environment that surrounds you. Our classes provide the instruments and insight you need to make a connection and leave a mark, be it through what you say, write, create or perform. In this way you are not a mere visitor, but a real contributor to the life of the city.

At the Siena School we offer you a vision to grow and learn in your Study Abroad experience, through a wide range of exciting and innovative courses (taught in English and Italian) in the Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, wonderful opportunities in Community Service and a variety of Extracurricular Activities.

Our small classes allow close collaboration between students and faculty. The School selects yearly research themes that all students are invited to work on with their instructors through individual research projects.

We work closely with the University of Siena; students with sufficient language skills may even enrol for University courses. At the end of the semester the Siena School, together with the University of Siena, organizes a final round table during which the semester's theme is discussed together with visiting lecturers to create a truly interdisciplinary exchange of ideas.

The Siena School for Liberal Arts is committed to:

Fostering academic excellence
by choosing only highly qualified staff, being guided by the Standards of Good Practice of the Forum on Education Abroad, and accepting students only from select American liberal arts colleges and universities;

Developing social awareness and responsible action
by providing service-learning opportunities and promoting discussion about international differences in approaching social needs;

Encouraging multicultural citizenship and international awareness
by promoting dialogue between students and people from all over the world who live and work in Italy;

Creating an environment for the exchange of ideas
by responding to students’ ideas and inviting international academics and artists to share their expertise and insight with the Siena School, the local community and the University of Siena through lectures, seminars and workshops;

Exploring academia’s commitment to its social context in a multidisciplinary fashion
by creating a curriculum in which our diverse courses are tied together in a stimulating nexus of humanities, social sciences and fine arts;

Building international partnerships between European and American academic institutions
by working on collaborative research projects, initiated by the Siena School with the participation of faculty members from the University of Siena and Florence and from our American counterparts.

Unique Features
The Siena School conducts research projects on selected topics every year. Themes of research, such as Identity or Memory, are chosen by the staff to make us reflect upon current issues connected with the meeting of cultures. Students approach these themes from different disciplines, and through them create connections between classroom learning and the natural and social context surrounding them.

At the end of the semester all students are invited to participate in an Interdisciplinary final discussion forum. This is a public round table organized by the school, where students are encouraged to present or perform their work and discuss it together with their peers and with visiting professors from European and American universities.

Individual Research Projects
within the discipline of your choice.

An intensive Italian Program
giving you the means to live in the city on your own terms and in your own words.

A specialized Art History Program
bringing together beginners’ and advanced courses, seminars, visiting professors, presentation of papers to local academic committees, publication of your own research.

Community-based Research in the Social Sciences
exciting new opportunities for anthropological field work.

Exhibitions and Performances of Artwork and Music in the City and for the City
lend your foreign eye to a new and challenging understanding of our city.

Service-Learning opportunities
let the city become your workshop for confronting issues of civic responsibility in a globalized world.

Give back to the City as you become part of it
deepen your understanding of Siena and its inhabitants by becoming so much more than a visitor.

  • Courses

    Italian Language and Culture

    Italian Language and Culture 1
    Italian Cultural Studies 
    Italian Language and Culture 2
    History of the Italian Language 
    Italian Language and Culture 3
    Exploring Siena 
    Italian Language and Culture 4
    Contemporary Italian music 

    History of Art

    Art History 1
    A New Vision from the Past: Italian Sculpture and the Classical Heritage 
    Art History 2
    Discovering the Man: The Renaissance in Siena and Florence 
    Art History 3
    Picturing people: Italian Art and Society during the Renaissance 
    Art History 4
    Art History through its Primary Sources 

    Fine Arts

    Photography as a Means of Communication 
    Through the study of the human figure explore various issues regarding identity and human relationships 
    From the Human figure to the Landscape 
    Book Art
    A Modern look at a Medieval craft 
    Creative Writing
    Truth, Lies, and In Between 
    16th & 17th Century Music and Performance Workshop 


    Contemporary Italy and the Weight of its Myths 
    Literature 1
    Once upon a time: The Tradition of the Italian "Novella" from Dante to Calvino 
    Literature 2
    Reading Italians at their Best: Masterpieces of Italian Literature from the Middle Ages to our Times 
    History of Music
    Madrigals: Beauty in Sound 

    Social Sciences

    Education and Linguistics
    Italian Sign Language and Deaf culture 
    The Anthropology of Migration and Transnationalism in Contemporary Societies 

    Service Learning

    Education and Linguistics . Service Learning
    Italian Sign Language and Deaf culture 

  • Siena School for Liberal Arts
    ISLA srl
    Via Pannilunghi 10
    53100 Siena

  • activities and workshops

    Activities are an integral part of our program. Through entertaining and engaging,  students are included in aspects of daily Italian life and culture that they might not otherwise be able to. Program activities vary according to season but usually include: hands-on experience on local farms, learning the wine and oil-making process through participation in the grape and olive harvests, and exploring Tuscan cuisine as a cultural inheritance. There are also various workshops offered in areas such as: theatre and improvisation, book-binding, mosaics, Italian folk music, as well as an historical and anthropological introduction to the Sienese horse-race, the Palio. In addition, a mini-course on Italian 18th and 19th century opera is offered with visits to the Accademia Chigiana (the Sienese music academy) and, of course, a visit to the opera.


    The program offers numerous excursions in Tuscany and other regions of Italy.  The Siena School semester begins in Rome, Pisa or Assisi, with three days of practical orientation to life in Italy as well as guided tours of the cities, their monuments, churches and museums. During the semester there are two weekend trips for the whole group. Possible destinations include: Piedmont, the Marches, Campania or another area you may not have discovered otherwise. 
    A numerous variety of one day excursions, both course related and not, are featured during the semester. These include hikes in the countryside, visits to archaeological sites, castles, vineyards, hill towns, Florence and other nearby cities. Some weekends, as well as a week long mid-term break, are left for individual travel. From Siena you can strike out for Florence (1 hour by bus/train), Rome (3 hours by bus/train), and Mediterranean beaches (2 hours by bus/train). Further afield, but still easily reachable for a weekend, are destinations like Venice and Verona, Milan, Naples, the Dolomite mountains and the Ligurian coast (the Cinque Terre). 

  • accomodation

    All of our students live with Italian host families specially selected with the idea of providing both parties with the opportunity for a cultural exchange. This is a very important and enriching part of our program both because it strongly encourages students to use their language skills and because it leads them right into the heart of Italian life providing them with perspectives different than those gained in the classroom.
    Most families live just outside the city walls but the centre is always easily accessible. Students are in single and double rooms.

  • No information available.
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  • Please, ask the school

  • Internships

    One of the best ways to learn through personal commitment how Siena lives is to experience the city as a living city challenged by ‘normal’ issues. The Siena School offers a series of internships that combine academic research, anthropological fieldwork and volunteering. In this way students can contribute positively to the life of the local community that hosts them, at the same time as gaining a thorough understanding of their chosen field of study.

    There are three components to each internship: anthropology lectures, group discussions and fieldwork.

    immigration and local society: the stories of foreign women in siena
    immigration, local history and music
    the role of memory and story-telling in the life of the elderly


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