Florence: Living with History (September Course)

Photo of the Florence skyline, with the Duomo in the background, taken from the Palazzo Vecchio’s tower
Final App Deadline: 
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Language Requirement: 
Kylie Poulin

The College’s new September course in Florence provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to earn History credit by exploring Renaissance art, history, and culture in an intensive, three-week course. In September 2019, “Florence: Living with History” will be led by Ada Palmer, Associate Professor of Early Modern European History in the Department of History.

Florence is a living museum of the Renaissance. Over three intense weeks, daily visits to monasteries, tombs, historic residences, and the most celebrated art collections on Earth bring to life the triumphs and tumults of an age of merchants and conquests, scholars and city states, alchemists and innovations, plagues and kings. Students stay and study within the historic center of a city at once so small one can stroll from the west gate to the east in thirty minutes, yet so influential through culture and commerce that its actions shaped the destinies of great empires from England and Spain to the Ottoman world. In-person visits to libraries and historic palaces unpack how historians work, and how the uniquely rich documentation surviving from Medieval and Renaissance Florence helps us understand not only Italy’s history, but the whole pre-modern world whose material, economic, and social history is visible in the meticulous records and copious visual images created by this unique merchant republic. In addition to studying historic events, art, and architecture, students also examine contemporary Italian culture from food to friction with the growing demands of tourism, and examine how people living in the modern city of Florence work to preserve and live in balance with an urban landscape so saturated with history that every house is a world heritage site, and frescoes peep from behind every shop window display.

Apart from classroom work, the Florence program offers a series of excursions to sites of artistic and historic interest within and in the vicinity of Florence and the Tuscany region. Indeed, Florence itself plays a central role in the academic and cultural components of the program as detailed above and students will be expected to make full use of its cultural resources.

The program will run from September 1, 2019 through September 22, 2019.


Florence program students live together in shared, furnished apartments with full kitchens in the city center.

Credits and Registration

Participants in the Florence program will take and receive credit for one History course (HIST 22907-99 Florence: Living with History, 100 units). This course is considered part of the students’ Autumn Quarter course load and is recorded as a course enrollment on their Autumn Quarter registration. For History majors or minors, the course will count as an elective. The use of the course credit in a program of study (major or minor) other than History must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective department. The course title, unit of credit, and grade is placed on the College transcript.


Provided students enroll in no more than four (4) additional 100-unit courses in the Autumn Quarter of the Florence program, the tuition cost of the Florence history course will be part of students’ regular College tuition for the quarter. Students then also pay a Florence program fee and a non-refundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and Florence program fee are paid via myUChicago in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the non-refundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in the program. Precise figures for the 2019-20 academic year are listed below:

Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $675

Florence program fee: $3,500

Program fee includes: Out-of-pocket expenses include:
accommodation round-trip airfare to and from the program site
instruction transportation on site
student support meals
program excursions course materials
emergency travel insurance (ISOS) personal entertainment and travel
  communications (including cell phone usage)
  health insurance and upfront payments for care
  other miscellaneous expenses

Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $275 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Florence is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

Since participants remain fully registered in the College, they retain financial aid eligibility for Autumn Quarter tuition while participating in this course. Need-based scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 may be available to assist with the program fee. In order to determine your eligibility for a need-based grant, students should complete their regular university Financial Aid application (through the office of Financial Aid) with all supporting documentation by April 15th.

Additionally, a limited number of scholarships are available for Odyssey Scholars who will participate in one of the September programs and who can demonstrate additional financial need. These awards are competitive. The funds are designed to assist with the program fee and out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. the Study Abroad administrative fee, airfare to study abroad location, meals, local transportation, living expenses) that might otherwise prohibit participation in the program. These scholarships are supported by the Strongin Family Fund for Students with Financial Need: Goldman Sachs Gives. In order to apply, students should submit the online scholarship application by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 2019. Please note: This is a separate application and funding source from the need-based scholarships available through Financial Aid, and Odyssey Scholars may apply to both.

Eligibility and Application

The Florence program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

The program is designed for undergraduates in good standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the course is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite.

Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record, personal statement, and academic recommendation. If you are interested in applying for this program, please fill out the online application.

Further Information

To discuss the Florence: Living with History program and the possibility of participating, please contact Kylie Poulin.

What you’ll see: 

Florence Cellini's Perseus warning the enemies of the Medici not to rebelPhoto of the Florence skyline, with the Duomo in the background, taken from the Palazzo Vecchio’s tower