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 Study Abroad in Siena, Italy! June 2 - July 6, 2017

Earn 3 course credits on a 35-day academic adventure into medieval Siena, Italy! We are seeking 10-12 student “ambassadors” to experience and interact with Siena’s 17 contradas (neighborhoods), a unique local culture that dates back to the Middle Ages and the heyday of the Siena Republic. Set in the picturesque countryside of the Tuscany region, Siena provides an incomparable opportunity for students to study a fantastic European example of community viability, local and civic pride, and a walkable urban environment. Two course options are available (see below).

Who can join the program?

This is an interdisciplinary program that invites students from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to participate. In 2016 our first cohort of 10 students represented disciplines of history, geography, anthropology, journalism, elementary education, criminal justice, political science, international studies, and arts administration, among other related minors. Students with any of the following broad interests should seriously consider the program:

  • Observing community viability, livability, and public safety as take-away lessons
  • History, geography, architecture, and urban design of Italian cities
  • Gaining confidence with foreign travel and public transit
  • Influences of globalization and mass tourism on local traditions
  • Exploring Siena’s 17 contradas (neighborhoods) and their community success
  • Studying public spaces and urban planning issues, including a 3-day excursion to Venice, Italy!

Live the Palio!

The “Hunger Games on Horseback”. Start of the July 2 Palio race in Piazza del Campo, 2015 (Photo: Tom Paradis)

The highlight of our program is the opportunity to experience and “live” one of Europe’s most enduring and intense community events, the Palio, a maddening horse race in Siena’s public square twice each summer on July 2 and Aug. 16. For each Palio since the Middle Ages, 10 of Siena’s 17 contradas (neighborhoods) are chosen by lottery (extraction) to enter a horse and a jockey (as tribute) in what Prof. Paradis refers to lovingly as the “Hunger Games on Horseback”. You will have rare access to ritual dinners and events within certain contradas and make new friends where few Americans venture. As Butler students you will serve as “ambassadors” for both Butler University and America as you interact with our contrada friends. (See links below for further information.)

What courses are offered?

All students will participate in the same general program but will choose between one of the following two Butler courses, or academic “tracks”:

  • AA 383 Special Seminar in Arts Administration (Prof. Brenda Johnston)
  • HST 305 Topics in History: Livable Cities and Urban Patterns (Prof. Tom Paradis)
    • Anthropology students can enroll in AN 380 instead if desired.

More Information and Student Testimonials 

We invite you to check out the following links to learn more about our experiences from our first Butler program in 2016!

  • Fliers for each course (each includes more details of course topics):
  • A sampling of student testimonials of their own experiences in 2016
  • Official film trailer for the recently released documentary film, Palio (we will watch both the film and the real events in Siena!)
  • A fun “music video” (5 min.) showcasing our 2016 program, produced by Prof. Paradis (with a song that held special meaning for our students!)
  • A YouTube Video (2 min.) of the Palio race from July 2, 2016 witnessed live by our students in Siena’s central square, Piazza del Campo

Program Dates and Flights

Students will all be required to take a group flight from the United States to Italy, usually into Rome. If traveling from different regions in the U.S., students can meet the international group flight at the departure gate. Assistance with flight reservations will be provided by Butler staff and affiliates. You can either return to the U.S. with the group at the end of the program, or remain in Europe for further travel. The following dates are now set for 2017:

  • June 2: Depart United States for Italy (usually Rome)
  • June 3: Arrive in Siena, settle into apartments
  • June 4: Orientations and Instruction begins
  • June 29-July 2: Days of the Palio
  • July 6: Depart Siena for return to U.S. (Arrive late on July 6.)

Program Cost and How to Apply

The program cost per student (for either course) is $4,958. This includes airfare, apartment lodging, planned excursions, instruction, entrance fees, transfer shuttle to Siena, and various contrada community dinners and events. Students are responsible for food and incidentals (food costs can be reduced for those who like to cook, given that eating out is more expensive). This is considered very inexpensive compared to other programs of this duration, with the largest cost being the airfare. Further, Butler students do not need to pay tuition for summer study-abroad courses!

All interested students are invited to apply.

To Apply: 

  • Contact either Prof. Tom Paradis ([email protected]) or Prof. Brenda Johnston ([email protected]) to express interest. They will provide you with the application form.
  • Meet with Prof. Johnston or Paradis to introduce yourself, to learn more about the program, and to answer any initial questions.
  • Complete the application form and submit it for review (instructions on form) by December 1, 2016 (or earlier). Applicants will be notified soon thereafter whether they have been accepted into the program.
  • A $500 deposit (down payment) will be required to secure your spot in the program, due as a check written to “Butler University” by February 1, 2017.

 We look forward to meeting you and possibly joining you in Siena! 

Tom Paradis, Brenda Johnston