The Italian Architecture and Urbanism Dialogue of Civilization will explore the deep history and cultural legacy of the built environments of Venice, Florence, Siena, and Rome. It is a two-course program focused on freehand drawing and the critical analysis of the historic and contemporary architecture and urbanism of these great Italian cities. The architectural drawing course focuses on freehand drawing as a powerful and poetic form of communication. It will explore drawing as a vehicle for the discovery, analysis, and study of the great architectural monuments of Italy. But no previous experience of drawing is necessary: we will start with the very fundamental aspects of architectural sketching to match anyone's abilities. The urban theory course is focused on the temporal dimension of Italian architecture and urbanism. Instead of focusing on singular monuments that were produced at one moment in history, the theory course will look at the unique urbanism of Italy that evolved from layers architecture that have morphed over centuries. These courses will be directly engaged with Italian architecture, urbanism, language, design, cuisine, and lifestyle on a daily basis. These courses satisfy two NUpath attributes: "ARCH 3351 Architecture Topics Abroad: Theory” satisfies NUpath Attribute #3: Interpreting Culture; and "ARCH 3352 Architecture Topics Abroad: Drawing” satisfies NUpath Attribute #2: Exploring Creative Expression and Innovation.

This program includes group dinners as an introduction to each of the major cities we visit. We will be joined by local experts who will share particular insights of each city. We will do in-city field trips on a daily basis, and we will take a day trip to some of Tuscany's most important and beautiful hill towns, Pienza and Montepulciano. In Rome, students will embark on a culinary treasure hunt using new language skills in the food shops of Campo dei Fiore. The city will be our classroom, and we spend a majority of our time directly engaged in Italy's dynamic urban environments. Students will develop a deep theoretical understanding of the constant inhabitation and transformation of Italy's urban spaces and buildings. And, students will engage in freehand drawing as a means for studying, analyzing and comprehending the genius of the architects and artists of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Group Flight Plan:

Application Procedure

  • Application Open: November 1, 2018
  • Application Deadline: January 15, 2019
Submit to GEO
  • GEO Application: All applicants must complete the GEO application. This is the first step for applying to any program.
  • $500 non-refundable deposit: Deposits must be paid through NUPay. Be sure to select the appropriate summer term.
  • Photocopy of Passport: This is to be given to your faculty leader after acceptance.
  • Essay Questions: Answer each question in 2-3 paragraphs (completed online via GEO application).
    • What are your personal and academic reasons for wishing to participate in this Dialogue of Civilizations program?
    • How will the program further your academic and career goals?
    • What is your previous travel and language experience, if any?
    • What courses have you taken which are directly relevant to the program?

Applications are not considered complete until deposit is received. This deposit will be applied to the full cost of the program.

Update My Travel Plans on myNortheastern
Once you have been accepted into the program and your the flight and accommodation details have been shared with you, you are required to create an entry in My Travel Plans for the trip. Please be sure to enter the following pieces of information:
  • Personal and Emergency Contact Info
  • HealthTravel Info: Dates, flight and accommodation details, etc.
  • Passport Details: Passport number, Expiration date, Passport Country of issue, etc.

Please refer to this step-by-step user’s guide for directions on how to navigate the My Travel Plans system.

Should you fail to complete this step as directed, you may be prevented from traveling, may not receive credit for courses, and/or may be excluded from participating in other Northeastern global programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Studying abroad requires a valid passport. You may also need a visa and/or other travel documents. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your documents are valid and appropriate to the nature of your program.

Minimum Requirements
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA: 2.50
  • Minimum Semesters: Minimum of 2 completed Northeastern semesters at the time of program start date. NUin students are eligible to apply. Transfer and Global Pathways students contact GEO program coordinator for eligibility.
Other Requirements
  • Possible Student Challenges: Students must be prepared to walk long distances in a very warm climate. This will require reasonable stamina and good walking shoes. Moving through Italian cities and traveling between cities can be challenging. The weather in Italy in May will in the 80s during the day, and the tourist season will be in full swing. Since we spend most of our time in the city, students will learn to cope with the crowded streets, rushing traffic, and new cultural norms. Pickpocketing, petty theft, gendered commentary from strangers, and other forms of aggressive behavior are common in Italy, so being vigilant and always traveling with a “buddy” is imperative. Students are instructed to never enter the home or car of a stranger. They must be aware and wise like one would in any major urban center.


In the drawing course, students will have the opportunity to:
• develop the ability to draw in freehand “in situ”
• develop an understanding of the effect of drawing on our perception
• develop the ability to see, read, analyze and represent architecture and urbanism
• generate 2 dimensional orthographic projections [plans, section, elevation] with freehand drawing
• generate 3 dimensional drawings [perspective, axonometric] with freehand drawing
• generate analytical drawings [detail, exploded axonometric, other] with freehand drawing
• augment their knowledge and appreciation of great historical buildings by engaging them through freehand drawing

In the theory course, students will have the opportunity to:
• develop an understanding of the temporal dimension of the built environment;
• develop an understanding of urban morphology, how cities evolve and have been shaped;
• develop the ability to “read” the city in morphological terms, such as urban space, architectural typology, pattern and sequence;
• develop the ability to generate a conceptual analysis of the city;
• develop the ability to generate a written and visual explanation of your analysis;
• develop an understanding of the interrelationship between research, analysis and representation;
• develop the ability to create a plan for research and representational methodologies.


The Italian Architecture and Urbanism Dialogue of Civilization attracts students from all undergraduate students across the university. This diversity of majors exposes students to other majors, disciplines, and perspectives. Plus, each of the courses will satisfy a NUpath attribute: “ARCH 3351 Architecture Topics Abroad: Theory” satisfies NUpath Attribute #3: Interpreting Culture; and “ARCH 3352 Architecture Topics Abroad: Drawing” satisfies NUpath Attribute #2: Exploring Creative Expression and Innovation.

The students participating in the Italian Architecture and Urbanism Dialogue of Civilization will be continuously immersed in the unique urban cultures of Venice, Florence, Siena and Rome. Throughout the Dialogue the students will be directly engaged in the local patterns of Italian lifestyle, cuisine, and commitment to a profound aesthetic culture. Students will witness firsthand how Italy’s historic context is the foundation for a thriving contemporary, metropolitan and global society. They will be studying in depth the architecture and urban spaces of these cities on location, and there will be a number of local experts throughout the program leading particular lectures and tours on site.


  • ARCH 3352 - Architecture Topics Abroad: Drawing : Examines and engages historic architecture and urbanism through freehand drawing. Offers students an opportunity to learn how to draw in freehand like an architect—drawing in a creative, interpretive, precise, and analytical manner—as well as to learn about the history and cultural context of the great architectural monuments and urban spaces that they are analyzing and drawing, including major architectural monuments. Studies new skills of drawing, the conventions of architectural representation, and the cultural history of the built environment. May be repeated without limit.
  • ARCH 3351 - Architecture Topics Abroad: Theory : Explores, defines, and analyzes the embodied time within urban artifacts (ruins, buildings, urban landscape and space, infrastructure) of a historic context. Focuses on the architecture and urban artifacts that are the consequence of the evolutionary forces of urban civilization over long durations of time rather than focusing on iconographic examples of architecture and urbanism produced within a specific moment in history. Students engage in theoretical readings, group discussions, site visits, analyses of evolutionary urban artifacts, writing, and drawings. Assigned readings cover a broad range of theories about analyzing and interpreting the urban context and its history. These readings are complemented by both required writing assignments and site visits to many urban artifacts, buildings, and spaces. May be repeated without limit.


Northeastern Tuition: $12,613
Dialogue of Civilizations Fee: $2,250.00
  •   Northeastern Tuition and DOC Fee Includes: 8 Northeastern credits, international roundtrip airfare from Boston, accommodations for program duration, international security and emergency support, and program related expenses (local transportation, field trips, excursions and group meals)

Additional Estimated Expenses: $1,953
  • Students should anticipate spending the following out of pocket expenses during the program:  $1,566 on meals and $387 on incidentals.

GEO offers scholarships and grants for students studying abroad on Dialogue of Civilizations programs. Please visit our Scholarships page for more info!


Additional Resources
  • Tentative Itinerary : This is a tentative itinerary for the DOC. A finalize itinerary will be supplied by your professor in Spring 2019.


Italy is unique in its wealth of cultural and historical sites, and this deep cultural heritage forms the basis of many social, political and artistic dimensions of the western world. For example, Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country in the world, and a majority of these sites are architectural or urban in nature.

Architecture and urban form is situational: it is inextricably bound to its particular site. The best way to study architecture and urbanism is by physically experiencing and drawing them. A majority of the students’ class time is spent in the city at particular architectural and urban sites. The site tours and the “in situ” drawing sessions are complimented by periodic mornings or afternoons in the classroom for focused course instruction, discussion and student presentations. For example, in the first week of the program there is more time devoted to classroom instruction so students can become oriented to the new culture with some supervision, and to the course concepts, skills and goals. As the program progresses, the students are increasingly in the city and applying their new analytical, perceptual and drawing skills. The course schedules are strategically intertwined to optimize the study of theoretical concepts on site while also drawing places as a complimentary form of research.

The U.S. State Department lists travel advisories, local laws, alerts from the embassy, and other important information about Italy here. Please review this information before applying.


  • Apartment : In the first half of the Dialogue, the students will be moving from Venice to Florence to Siena, staying in hotels with rooms up to 5 students. In the second half of the Dialogue, the students will be will be staying in Rome in apartment suites with up to 5 students with multiple bedrooms for 2 people. The Venice, Florence, and Siena hotels are located in the historic center of each of these cities. A continental breakfast is served in the hotels. The apartments in Rome are located in the Trastevere section of the historic city. Trastevere literally means “across the Tiber River:” this is a very popular and active section of Rome full of day- and nightlife. There are excellent transit connections to the other historic sections of Rome, and the transit passes will be paid for in the program stipend. Students will have a fully equipped kitchen in the apartments for making their own food.

Host University or Organization

The program hosts and organizers is Academic Initiatives Abroad (AIA) AIA organizes all of our in-country transportation, classroom facilities, group meals, museum tickets, guest lecturers, and special events. We will use the AIA facilities in an historic palazzo as our classroom spaces when we are in Rome.

Faculty Advisor