Previous background in Italian is not required, but all students must take three or six hours of Italian while they are in Florence. A semester of Italian before you leave helps make the most of your semester. JMU is affiliated with the British Institute in Florence which specializes in teaching Italian to English-speaking students and English to Italians. Intensive language classes in the beginning of the semester help equip you with everyday vocabulary and oral comprehension.
Italian 101-102 and 231-232 are offered both on campus and in Florence. Since a student may take six hours of Italian during the fall and spring semesters, it is possible to complete your bachelor of arts language requirement in Italian in three semesters. The Semester in Florence program can count as the International Business semester abroad experience.
The curriculum highlights the Renaissance tradition of Florence through art, literature and culture related courses, as well as focusing on 20th and 21st century Italy and Europe through politics and history related to European Integration courses.
Each course is worth three credits and counts as a JMU course. You should register for a minimum of 15 hours (three or six hours in Italian), and you may take an independent study in your major with the supervision of a JMU faculty member and prior approval of the program director, Professor John Scherpereel.
The academic program is housed within the 16th century Palazzo Capponi, a 14,000-square-foot palace owned by Pio Istituto de' Bardi (The Bardi Institute), an 18th century philanthropic organization that provides educational opportunities in the Florence community. James Madison University recently renovated space in the palazzo to provide offices, classrooms and computer labs. Students attend language classes at the British Institute, and all students have reading privileges at the British Institute library. Fall and spring students who elect to take studio art classes take those classes at the Santa Reparata International School of Art.