Beyond the Beautiful: Examining Italy’s Social and Environmental Challenges

Coming to the Forum on Education Abroad Annual Conference in Boston this March?

AIA invites you to attend the session “Beyond the Beautiful: Examining Italy’s Social and Environmental Challenges”

The session will be held on Thursday, March 21 at 3:45pm EST.

The session will be hosted by AIA founders Scott Schlimgen & Claudia Cremasco with Dr. Daniel Faber, professor of Sociology at Northeastern University, Boston.

Looking beyond Italy’s obvious cultural attractions, for over 15 years the presenters have sought to confront the significant social, economic and environmental challenges of central and southern Italy through coursework, research workshops, task-based learning and community service.

The session will focus on the shared goals and accomplishments of multiple programs hosted by AIA and affiliated with five different sending institutions and various faculty leaders. Common themes will include:

  • Recognizing and engaging non-native and marginalized populaces, in particular immigrant communities, refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Investigating the roots and nature of organized crime and the grass roots and civil authority efforts to combat it.
  • Understanding environmental justice and the degradation and rehabilitation of the natural and built environment.
  • Exploring the relationship between power and diverse populaces in Italy by looking at both contemporary society and its roots in the past 50+ years of political, social and economic movements.

We will present our goals, collaborative process, challenges, specific teaching methods and learning outcomes and ask our audience to reflect and comment on successes, challenges and ways to extend and improve these efforts. 

The presenters hope that the examples of courageous local activists, and conscientious, engaged students will inform and inspire session participants and provoke some thoughtful discussion during multiple roundtable exchanges and networking breakout sessions.

For conference details go to the Forum on Education Annual Conference website HERE.

Learn More about Academic Initiatives Abroad, the AIA Rome Center our program design and hosting services.

Inclusive Focus

The activities described in this presentation attempt to give a direct and in-person voice to members of under represented and marginalized constituencies through presentations, interviews and interactive learning. These individuals and constituencies typically communicate a sense of self-empowerment, and strength in the face of daunting challenges, and their stories are both inspiring and uplifting.

The presentation will show how the programs in question introduce students to:

  • The role of women in the target society.
  • Gender roles and nonbinary gender identity.
  • The contributions and plight of immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers.
  • Communities targeted by organized crime.
  • The treatment of persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities.
  • The accommodation of persons with physical disabilities.
  • Youth unemployment.
  • Economic disparity between north and south.
  • The efforts of environmental activists and social workers.

Actionable Outcomes

We hope that this session, which focuses on program design and delivery, will be both inspiring and concretely useful to educators and administrators alike.

The presentation will describe program types, academic frameworks, teaching methodologies and institutional collaborations that may all be emulated by administrators and faculty attending the session.

We hope that participants will take away useful ideas about:

  • Collaboration between the sending and host institutions – program design and implementation that reflects a shared mission and goals, faculty academic interests, academic and administrative resources and contacts with diverse local constituencies and experts.
  • Academic frameworks that engage diverse and underrepresented constituencies in the host community through reciprocally beneficial activities and exercises.
  • Concrete, hands-on, direct and indirect community service projects that address significant needs in the host community while serving students’ specific academic objectives.
  • Specific teaching methods for ethnography, sociological observation, task-based learning and community and environmental design workshops.

Participants will, further, have an opportunity to network with colleagues through discussions of their own experiences and fresh ideas provoked through presentation material and discussion sessions.

Who is Presenting

Scott Schlimgen

Scott Schlimgen is the President and founder of Academic Initiatives Abroad, a U.S. study abroad hosting institution based in Rome, Italy, where he teaches and organizes diverse programs and service learning projects. He is a ForumEA Certified Professional and an architect with an MArch II degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a BArch from the University of Arkansas. His interests include socially responsible design, cultural heritage management and the intersection of history and theory. Since 1990 he has taught and directed Italy programs for numerous American universities.

Claudia Cremasco

Claudia Cremasco is the co-founder of Academic Initiatives Abroad and serves as its Director of Language Instruction with an emphasis on task-based language teaching. She has a degree in Literature from Rome’s La Sapienza University. She was awarded for teaching excellence at both Harvard and California Polytechnic State University, and has also taught at Roma Tre University, IUSM and the Italy programs of Penn State University, Cal Poly, Northeastern University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Nebraska, the University of Chicago, Arcadia, Iowa State University and others. 

Daniel Faber, Ph.D.

Daniel Faber is a Professor of Sociology, Affiliated Faculty Member in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and Environmental Studies, and Director of the Environmental Justice Research Collaborative at Northeastern University. He is a Senior Fellow at the Global Center for Climate Justice. His research spans political economy, environmental sociology, and social movements. He has authored award-winning publications and produced major research reports in environmental and climate justice, and is currently writing The Ecological Contradictions of American Capitalism: Towards a More Transformative Environmental Politics. He has taught faculty-led programs in Italy for 10 years.