Who We Are

Academic Initiatives Abroad is an American study abroad institution. Our branch, the AIA Rome Center, provides study abroad programs and support services throughout Italy, and beyond.

AIA was founded by educators to bring rigor, innovation and diversity to global learning, and to provide exceptional university students a deeper contact with a complex world. We offer decades of experience teaching and managing academic programs both abroad and in the United States. Our teaching and support staff share our values, and bring years of experience teaching abroad for a host of academic institutions.

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Our Core Team

Learn a little more about the people at AIA.

Scott Schlimgen - President

The founder of AIA, Scott Schlimgen is an architect with an MArch II degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a BArch from the University of Arkansas. Scott  has been teaching in or running university study abroad programs since 1990. He has taught for the Boston Architectural Center, the University of Arkansas Rome Program, the Penn State University Sede di Roma, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Northeastern University Rome Program, and since 1990 he has contributed instruction to over a dozen universities in Rome. He also founded and directed both the California Polytechnic State University and the Northeastern University Rome Programs in Architecture. Scott contributed to and appears in the History Channel’s Emmy Award winning documentary “Rome, Engineering an Empire”.

In 2009 he founded Academic Initiatives Abroad, and opened its Rome Center, where he teaches and organizes diverse study abroad programs and service learning projects. www.scottschlimgen.com

Claudia Cremasco - AIA Italy Representative

Co-founder of Academic Initiatives Abroad, Claudia Cremasco is its Italian Representative and its Coordinator of Language Instruction. She has taught and coordinated Italian language instruction in Italy and the USA since 1988. She has a Laurea in Literature from Rome’s La Sapienza University. She has taught at Harvard University and California Polytechnic State University, and was formally recognized for teaching excellence at both university. She has also taught at the Università degli Studi di Roma Tre, IUSM, Italiaidea Language Institute and for numerous American university study abroad programs, including Harvard University, Penn State University, The University of Arkansas, Arcadia and Iowa State University. For Academic Initiatives Abroad Rome Center she coordinates all language instruction and cultural activities.

Alexa Combs - Program Coordinator

Alexa researches and plans new programs, helps manage active programs and coordinates student services at the AIA Rome Center. Alexa has lived in Italy since 2008. She has a MSc in Innovation and Organization of Culture and the Arts from the University of Bologna, a BA in Art History from the University of Oregon, and a Minor in Italian, completed in part at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia. Before coming to Academic Initiatives Abroad, Alexa worked for TEVERETERNO, a nonprofit dedicated to the revitalization and reintegration of the Tiber river in Rome through artistic projects.

Andrea Ciasca Marra, Ph.D. - Academic Programming

Born and raised in Rome, Andrea graduated first in European Ethnology and then in History of Modern Philosophy. In 2013 he was awarded a PhD in Anthropology & History, with a dissertation on the use of Tacitus’ Germania in modern European political and legal thought. Since 2014 he has held the position of Teaching Assistant in Legal and Constitutional History at the Università del Salento, Lecce. From 2015 to 2017 he joined the Centre for Museum Education, Università Roma Tre to work as a Postdoc in Museum Studies. All his interdisciplinary research interests spring from a deep rooted passion for European Cultural History. At AIA Andrea coordinates Academic Programming.

Christian Biggi - Heritage Management Consultant

Christian is an experienced heritage specialist whose heritage consultancy focuses on capacity building initiatives working with a range of stakeholders – institutions, practitioners and community interest groups. He has a a Masters’ degree in Professional Archaeology from Oxford University. He is an Expert Member of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committees on Archaeological Heritage Management.

Christian gained significant experience at the World Heritage site of Herculaneum (Italy). As manager of the Herculaneum Centre, he led its efforts to promote sustainable approaches to heritage management, acting as a bridge between public authorities, private partners and community groups.

His consultancy includes various contributions to ICCROM’s ATHĀR programme, supporting initiatives to protect and promote the rich cultural heritage in the Arab region. He is also currently providing professional advice for the university-level teaching of heritage management in an international context in Rome.

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