Founded in 1964, the K. Robert Nilsson Center for European Studies is Dickinson College’s oldest study abroad program.
The Dickinson Center hosts two academic programs: the European Studies Program and the Italian Studies Program (scroll down to find out more).
The Center offers courses that have an emphasis on Social sciences and Italian language and culture. Students from both programs may also choose to attend courses at the University of Bologna (offered in English or Italian) or at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna (pending approval).
Reading Bologna & Italy from the Renaissance to the Baroque.
This course examines the lively artistic atmosphere of Bologna from the 15th to the early 17th century and the effects that society, economy, and politics had on the production of art during those centuries. Works of art will be studied with a specific interest in their intellectual, religious, and social connections to the historical context in which they were created.
Bolognese artworks will be used as primary sources. Through the study of the most significant ones, compared to coeval Central and Northern Italian works of art, students will learn the authentic novelty and excellence of the art of Bologna. Many lessons will be taught on site for a better comprehension of the historical context in which the artworks were designed and for a better appreciation of each single work of art analyzed in all its different aspects: iconography, technique, dimension, style.
Competition in Tourism Markets
The course introduces students to some of the basic principles of industrial organization, in particular those that are key for understanding competition among firms in some specific industries and markets. Throughout the entire course, the European tourism industry will be the subject of our case studies, so as to establish a direct connection between theory and real word/everyday life examples. Competition among the various types of firm operating in the several segments of the tourism market is shaped by pervasive global dynamics (related to digital transformation, sustainability, etc.) that have triggered a worldwide process of transformation of this sector. Nonetheless, competition among individual sellers/producers still remains, at least in part, largely characterized by a local/spatial dimension, which can also be explored through on-site educational trips in some of the most renowned tourist destinations nearby Bologna.
Made in Italy, Sustainably
From the post-World War II era, “Made in Italy” has confirmed itself as a label granting fine quality, authenticity and a sense of style internationally praised. A growing number of entrepreneurs managed through the decades to create a brand of high value all over the world, mixing the iconic Italian aesthetics with technology and innovation. The worth of the “Made in Italy” has granted many products prosperity in the markets, as it secured the solidity of the national economy. (Grinaldi, 2019) The topic of sustainable development has become increasingly central to the international community. In 2015, the UN approved the 2030 Agenda, an action plan aimed at pursuing sustainable development. The founding elements of the 2030 Agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that refer to different areas of development. (Dello Strologo, 2021) In this course, we critically evaluate the Italian Business System, looking at both the good and the bad features of a system which is more localised in its approach, where product values and cultures appear to be strong. Is there anything we can take from this system to improve our own business systems? Can these approaches not only produce valued products, but do so in a way that is fully sustainable? Set in the context of Bologna, students can explore for themselves the diversity of the system, in addition to receiving guidance in the form of visits and activities. Approaches to Entrepreneurship, Supply Chain, Business Strategy, Finance, Quality, Globalization, Change Management, Circular Economics and Marketing are all covered in the course.
Music and Political Belonging
This course explores the ways that music—specifically European art music of the late-eighteenth and nineteenth century—has historically participated in cultural-historical debates around political belonging in times of rising nationalism. Students will explore the various political and social contexts that shaped the aesthetic forms and critical reception histories of three key works—Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, and Verdi’s La Traviata—in order to understand how music functioned as a political cipher and text in what we now know as Austria, Germany, and Italy. How did various ideological movements—the Enlightenment, Cosmopolitanism, Romanticism, Nationalism, early Feminism—impact theatrical works? Who was represented on stage, and in what manner? How did opera envision the body politic—of different classes, genders, and ethnicities—through embodied voices? How did composers embed political ideas and opinions into their musical language? What can audience and critical responses to these operas tell us about political value and social mores of the time? The course includes local excursions and concludes with a collaborative project in which students will research and design a digital playbill. No musical experience is necessary.
This course introduces students to the study of European security, exploring the challenges that the European Union and European countries face on the international arena, as well as the opportunities for cooperation and global leadership. The course locates Europe within the field of international security, examining how the continent relates to other actors and institutions on the global stage, including the US, NATO, Russia and China. In so doing, the course reviews the evolution of the European security architecture and its role in addressing contemporary threats and phenomena such as terrorism, climate change and migration. At the end of the semester, students will be familiar with key theoretical concepts and debates to understand European security dynamics. Furthermore, they will be able to contextualize the role of the EU as a security actor and to critically engage with the security and defense strategies formulated by European actors.
The Biagi Scholarship was established to honor Marco Biagi, who was a professor, legal counsel, and good friend of Dickinson’s Bologna program. Biagi, a native of Bologna, was a University professor and consultant to the Italian Ministry of Labour. For over twenty years, he taught for the the Dickinson Center in Bologna as Adjunct Professor of European Labour Law and Politics and Comparative Industrial Relations. He was also a member of the Academic Council at the Johns Hopkins University of Bologna Center. The scholarship in his name was eastablished in 2003, a year after Biagi's tragic passing.
The scholarship is assigned to a student who best exemplifies the spirit and purpose of the Bologna Program - not only in terms of their academic performance, but also taking into account the extent to which the student takes advantage of the full range of opportunities available to them, demonstrating commitment to global engagement, and the positive contributions that they make to the program.
Francesco Guccini is a well-known Italian singer-song writer and considered one of the most important cantauori. He is also a writer, an actor, soundtrack composer, lexicographer and dialectologist. His lyrics in his song has been praised for their poetic and literary value and have been used as an example of modern poetry. Guccini was born in 1940 in Modena, Italy. In 1960 he moved to Bologna where Guccini studied at the University of Bologna. From 1965 to 1985, Guccini taught Italian at Dickinson College in Bologna, leaving a long-lasting impact on his students.
Students in the Bologna Program can sign up to have a weekly meal with an Italian host family. The so-called “host family dinner” program was first offered in 1996, made possible thanks to the wide network of connections that former Associate Director Clarissa Pagni had in Bologna. Since then, this program has always been one of the most popular inter-cultural activities among the students.
This is a free cultural and language exchange for both parts, as the Italian families are exposed to the English language and have the opportunity to get to know a new culture, while the students get to experience the Italian culture, language, and lifestyle (and cuisine!) in an authentic environment.
Many students develop a long-term relationship with their host families and find this one of the most rewarding experiences of their time abroad.
Since the 1960s, the European Studies program has empowered students to understand Italian and European cultures and societies through the social sciences and humanities. Coursework at the Nilsson Center in various disciplines makes use of place-based educational opportunities to enhance learning. Students may also benefit from the increasing number of courses offered in English at the University of Bologna, as well as the resources of Johns Hopkins University SAIS. Program faculty and staff use activities and excursions to guide students to deeper engagement with Italy.
The Italian Studies Programs offers a curriculum of courses all in Italian ranging from Art History, History of Science, Sustainable Food, Social Activism in Italy etc. Some of these courses include a community engagement component where students volunteer their time in local organizations and conduct reflective thinking about the gains of such experience. At the same time, they may also attend courses at the University of Bologna, courses in English offered at the Dickinson Center or at the Johns Hopkins Graduate Center in Bologna. Students on the Italian Studies program live in apartments with a student from the University of Bologna, travel on program trips (2 per each semester), and explore Italy and Europe independently.
Amy Wlodarski, European Studies Resident Director
Amy holds her Ph.D. in musicology from the Eastman School of Music and her BA from Middlebury College. Her scholarship—which deals broadly with the intersections between twentieth-century Jewish music, history, memory, politics, and trauma—is inherently transnational and interdisciplinary, and she brings that same wide scope of inquiry and intellectual curiosity to her teaching. She is the recipient of Dickinson’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2011) and the Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching (2015), and her scholarship has received national citations from the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music. She is the author of Musical Witness and Holocaust Representation (Cambridge, 2015) and George Rochberg, American Composer (Rochester, 2019). Her research—which has taken her to conferences, archives, and institutes throughout Europe—has been generously funded by the Presser Music Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, the National Endowment of the Humanities, Harvard University, and Dickinson College’s generous scholarly project and sabbatical funding. She is currently Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Musicological Society.
In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring natural and culinary worlds with her husband and children and attending concerts and museums of all sorts.
Bruno Grazioli, Italian Studies Resident Director
Bruno has studied in Italy and the UK, where he has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and French, an M.A. in Pedagogy and Promotion of Italian Language and Culture at the University Ca‘ Foscari of Venice, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Italian Studies. He lived for over a decade in the United States, where he was faculty in Italian at a private liberal arts college in the North East and served as academic director for study-abroad programs in Florence (11-12, 14-15). In 2018 Bruno relocated to Italy and helped launch the Italian Studies Program to offer Dickinson students the opportunity to delve into Italian culture and further their knowledge of the language. To this end, he has developed and taught a course on Italian Activism combining traditional instruction in class with volunteering/community engagement work in local organizations. Bruno has faculty status at the college and maintains active collaboration with the Italian Department on campus
Ellen Laird, Administrative Director
Ellen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Italian Studies from Dickinson College, where she also spent her junior year studying abroad in Bologna, Italy. Ellen returned home from that year in Bologna knowing that she would live abroad again. After graduation, she returned to Italy and taught English for a few years before she began working for the Dickinson in Italy program in Bologna. During her time with Dickinson, she has also earned an M.B.A. from the Bologna Business School of the University of Bologna. As Administrative Director of Dickinson in Italy, Ellen manages academic, administrative, and student life aspects of the program in addition to collaborating with colleagues to foster global learning through the curriculum and culturally immersive experience in Bologna.
Elena Giulia Dall'Acqua, Program Associate
A native of Marche region, Elena Giulia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Classics from the University of Macerata, and a Master of Arts in Italian Studies from the University of Bologna. While earning her master's degree, she did an internship at the Eastern College Consortium (E.C.Co) - a study abroad program in Bologna offered by Vassar College, Wellesley College, and Wesleyan University. During her internship, she developed a strong interest in international education.
Upon completing her master's degree, she began working for Dickinson’s study abroad program in Bologna in 2017. In her role as Program Associate, Elena Giulia is responsible for student support and resources, student housing, cultural and language exchange opportunities, administrative aspects of the program, and social media management.
Elisabetta Cunsolo, Faculty (Art History)
Elisabetta Cunsolo began teaching Art History for the Dickinson program in Bologna in 2008. Her courses are mainly focused on Bologna and its art. She often teaches on site to promote discussion in front of the works themselves and to get the students excited about visiting museums and exhibitions. Elisabetta frequently organizes field trips so that students can better understand the richness and variety of Italian culture. Her focus has always been on making Dickinson students develop a deep interest in Italian art, history, and culture, on stimulating their curiosity, and capitalizing on the enthusiasm they always bring to Italy. Since 2013, Elisabetta has also been teaching Art History for the Eastern College Consortium Program (Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan) in Bologna.
After graduating in the History of Art with a thesis on the 18th century Venetian art, literature and music, Elisabetta completed a PhD focusing on illustrated medical treatises written by Italian physicians and published between the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th. Her research, published in articles and essays, involves many different areas of study—from history of art and publishing, to history and history of science. At present, Elisabetta's research focuses on the history of art and culture in Bologna in the 15th century, with a focus on the study of local families and palaces of that time.
Elisabetta has also worked as assistant and project manager for the cataloging and digitization projects of the Fototeca Berenson at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy, and as specialized consultant of the Acton Photograph Archive Digitization Project at Villa La Pietra, New York University in Florence.
"Art is not merely my job, it is also, and above all, my passion. I think that even the art and culture of the Renaissance which I teach in my courses, and that look so distant from our world, can help us to understand the present more than we might know. What I try to teach my students is not notions of art history, but a way of looking at things, of asking questions about them and understanding their deeper meaning."
Elena Galeotti, Faculty (Italian Language and Culture)
A Bologna native, Professor Galeotti taught Italian in the USA (International Centre for Language Studies - ICLS, 727 15th St. NW, Washington D.C 1991, Casa Italiana, connected to American University, 595 3rd St. NW, Washington D.C.) and at various academic institutions in Bologna (Johns Hopkins University SAIS, since 2001, Dickinson College). Her main interests are cinema, creative writing and theater. In her language classes, Galeotti employs theatrical techniques to make them more effective and engaging, both from the point of view of verbal and non-verbal communication. By building upon written texts and works of literature, she encourages students’ ability to produce creative scripts and speak spontaneously. Elena Galeotti has been working closely with schools on the Bologna territory. In collaboration with the city administration and various local and national organizations (for ex. ANPI – Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d’Italia), she organizes and leads school workshop projects for University and High school students. The Theater Workshop is a place where everyone can express their hidden creative sides thanks to training. The training is based on some theatrical techniques based on verbal communication and creative gestures. Theater training at school must lead each student to new discoveries about their subjectivity in the essential relationship with their friends / classmates. Elena Galeotti has continued working in theater both as an actress/manager and as an independent researcher (she has published on I quaderni del libero Gruppo, Armunia; Tempo senza tempo, in “TEMPO” (seconda parte) pp. 2-5, Castiglioncello Gennaio 2015, Eudaimonìa, in “CATARSI” (seconda parte) pp. 28-31, Castiglioncello Marzo 2015). In 2001, she founded the Compagnia Cantharide in Zola Predosa (Bologna, Italy) with a group of artists. In 2017, she became the manager of the Spazio Binario Auditorium, always in Zola Predosa. In 2019, in collaboration with Drama Teatro in Modena, Galeotti began the D’umanità l’attore project (the Humanity Actor project).
"I love teaching my language and culture. I love spending time with students who share their cultures with me. Each encounter is an exchange, an opportunity to discover new ways of life and broaden our horizons."
Roberto Gamberini, Faculty (Italian Language)
Prof. Gamberini holds an M.A. in Linguistics from the Università La Sapienza di Roma (Italy) and a professional credential for teaching Italian as a second language (DITALS II) from the Università per Stranieri di Siena. He has extensive experience in language teaching and regularly attends professional development courses on issues such as oral proficiency interview (The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages), online tutoring (International House), neurolanguage coaching (Efficient Language Coaching) and accommodating disabilities in language learning (Università per gli Studi di Parma). Prior to joining Dickinson in 2018, he was coordinator of the Italian Language Program and Italian Instructor at the U.S. Embassy in Rome.