The City and Human Health
Home to some of the best landscapes, cuisine, art, and architecture in the world, Italy is jam-packed with rich history and culture. Whether you are looking to experience the epicenter of the Renaissance, or searching for modern city-life, Italy is sure to capture your imagination. Florence is a city made famous by its world class art and architecture, as well as its rich history and food culture. In this program, you will study how our health is shaped by the cultural contexts in which we live, and explore cities in relationship to human health. In this unique opportunity, you will participate in experiential learning in Italy, with UAlbany faculty. When you are not in class you will be given the opportunity to tour famous cites, learn to make pizza and tiramisu, as well as embark on excursions to other cities such as Siena and Rome.
For UAlbany students, the 3-credit The City and Human Health course fulfills both the International Perspectives general education requirement and the Natural Science general education requirement. The course combines classroom and experiential learning in which students engage in site visits and culturally relevant excursions to experience first-hand the subject as it manifests abroad. In addition, a day-long excursion is scheduled to the nearby city of Siena, as well as an included overnight excursion to Rome.
*Program is subject to minimum enrollment.
Please review the Summer 2019 Cities and Human Health Course Description for additional details about the program.
The City and Human Health
3 credits, equivalent to UAlbany Human Biology course AANT 119
This course is a survey of the history of health and disease from the earliest humans before the development of settlements to contemporary populations living in industrialized cities. With an emphasis on the the role of culture and behavior in causing disease, the course will use Florence to illustrate life and health in different periods from Roman times through the 19th century. The course fulfills the International Perspectives requirement.
This program includes 1 course for a total of 3 credits.
General Education Information for UAlbany Students
The 3 credits earned on this program satisfy both the International Perspectives and the Natural Science general education requirements and the course counts as an elective for the Human Biology major for UAlbany students.
Major/Minor Information for UAlbany Students
Courses may also satisfy other major and minor requirements, upon approval by the department. The Cities and Human Health course is counted as an elective for Human Biology majors.
All courses taken abroad count towards UAlbany General Elective credits. Credits and grades will appear on your UAlbany transcript. You may file a request to have additional courses approved for equivalency as necessary.
This course is taught by UAlbany professor Dr. Lawrence Schell.
Professor Lawrence Schell teaches Cities and Human Health course. He is the Director of the Center for the Elimination of Minority Health Disparities, as well as a Professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. His research on environmental health focuses on the physical growth and development of children, particularly the effects of pollutants among disadvantaged groups. Put in anthropological terms, his research concerns adaptation, or lack thereof, to urbanism. A corollary theme of his work is the role of socio-cultural factors in health. Prof. Schell received his Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.A. from Oberlin College.
Most recently, Dr. Schell was honored as a “Distinguished Professor” at UAlbany.
You will be housed in shared apartments in the historical center of Florence, within a 20-25 minute walk to class. All apartments will have wifi internet access, a fully equipped kitchen, and access to a washing machine. In addition, you will be provided a bed with linens, a desk, and dresser or cabinet.
Most meals will be on your own, with the exception of a few meals as indicated in the schedule.
Estimate of Costs
Click for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid.
Remember to speak with the Office of Financial Aid at your home campus to determine how your aid package could apply towards your program abroad.
No prior study of the Italian language is required. Juniors, seniors, and exceptional freshman and sophomores in all majors with at least a 2.5 GPA are eligible to apply.
Experiential learning plays a critical role in your program experience. Both the overall program and individual courses include a number of cultural and historical excursions* to important and influential sites, so you will have the opportunity to experience the culture of Italy to its fullest.
Past Excursions and Activities
- A visit to the Duomo and an Italian aperitivo experience
- Guided tours of the Pitti Palace and Palazzo Davanzati
- A pizza and tiramisu making class
- Day trip to Siena
- An overnight excursion to Rome, including guided tours of the Roman Forum, Colosseum, and the Vatican*Excursions are a mandatory part of the program and specific destinations vary by program and availability.
*Excursions are a mandatory part of the program and specific destinations vary by program and availability.
**Schedule is tentative and subject to change
External scholarships, listed on our website, are a good way to partially fund your study abroad experience. In addition, the Center for International Education and Global Strategy offers two scholarship programs for UAlbany students studying abroad on UAlbany or 4-year SUNY programs.
More information on applying to these scholarships is located on the Scholarships web page.
In Their Own Words
“Florence was a great experience and I miss it a lot. I enjoyed every moment of it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I enjoyed the class as well.” – Lauren
“The program in Florence was a life changing experience because it is eye opening to understand that many things we do in the USA are NOT universal to the rest of the world. It taught me to really question everything I do because I learned there are so many possible, and potentially better ways to approach life, health, and wellness.” – Sara
“I wanted to say how I still dream about Florence today. It was such an amazing experience, one that I hope to relive again. It was a great chance to see a different culture and to see another way of living. I would definitely recommend students to go and visit.” – Danielle
“I chose to study abroad the summer following my freshman year…The time spent in class was just as relevant and intriguing as exploring the medieval city. It is a valuable experience for anyone interested in a health science related profession. The opportunities offered alongside the classroom learning also was extremely beneficial. The location of Florence allowed for easy arrangement and travel as a main hub for the train and bus trips. The trip for UAlbany’s Study Abroad in Florence was a summer well spent for memories that are definitely one of a kind.” – Natalie
“I came into Italy knowing nothing about the culture. I was very fortunate to take a course to help me see the inner aspects of the people and the culture I otherwise would not have understood or noticed. This course forced me to think of why things were the way they are and not automatically dismiss them as weird.” “I have not only learned new things about Italy, but of myself as well. I have put on a different type of cultural lens which enables me to look at the world in a different way.” “Being aware of cultural contexts here in Italy will also help me observe how I act in the U.S….Overall, I am now more appreciative of different cultures … I have more respect and curiosity for others who don’t have the same values as me. I’ve also become more analytical of my surroundings.” – Various students
“My program abroad, as cliche as it sounds, was amazing. It’s something I feel everyone should try at least once, traveling does so much to open up your mind and really shows you the world. Its bigger than you think and there’s a beauty in realizing that and going to see it for yourself. The food was great but at the same time different in a way I was surprised, the customs and values that they held there taught me some things about myself and what I value. The Education Abroad office there was filled with great people that went out of their way to help me transition from the states to Italy and I’m so grateful for them. The professors were so kind and didn’t fail to switch things up by having class outside, or by having us explore and go on scavenger hunts while in class to learn about our area. The apartment I stayed in was right in the center of everything I needed, so accessible to food, clothes, shops and so much art. Italy is really such a beautiful place to the point that you find it hard to take your eyes off the environment. I would recommend this program to every and anyone wanted to see the world, anyone curious about studying abroad, or anyone curious about expanding their mind. The perspective I gained from this trip really changed me for the better and I am forever grateful that I was able to have an experience such as this.” – Tyriq, Sociology Major
About the City
In Florence, there are endless opportunities to experience the highlights of Italian history, cuisine, and culture. As one of the world’s premier travel destinations, you will spend your time touring palaces from the 15th century, walking through some of the world’s best art museums, and experiencing the myriad of churches and basilicas unique to this region. Hundreds of boutiques decorate the streets of Florence, and culinary tradition is practiced proudly in restaurants throughout the city.
A valid passport is required to participate in this program. If you are a permanent resident or international student, a visa may be required. More information regarding the visa application process is available upon acceptance to the program.
Applications become available online one semester before the program start date, based on the following timeline:
- Summer programs: December
06/03/2020 to 06/25/2020
Summer 2020 Itinerary*
June 3: Depart the U.S.
June 4: Arrive in Italy
June 5: Mandatory Orientation
June 5: Survival Italian Course
June 8-June 23: Class with Dr. Schell and group tours/activities
June 24: Public Holiday in Florence (Free day)
June 25: Depart for the U.S.
*Schedule is tentative and subject to change
More information regarding flights is available upon acceptance. Please do not purchase flights until you have been accepted into the program AND the program is confirmed (in approximately late March 2020).
Upon acceptance to the program, you will be required to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation. During this time, you will have the opportunity to meet other program participants, discuss in-depth the details of your program, and prepare of the overall education abroad experience. The summer pre-departure orientation is typically conducted the Saturday before the end of Spring UAlbany classes.
You will also have an on-site orientation upon arrival to your host country.
Your Faculty Leaders are responsible for guiding all aspects of the program and will be available throughout the on-site portion of the course to manage any concerns or questions you may have while abroad. The faculty accompany you on all program activities and outings.
UAlbany’s Office of Education Abroad staff assists you during the application process, in your preparation to travel abroad, and on-site if necessary.