Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School (joint)
The Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School is a unique, unprecedented joint partnershp between two universities passionate about providing students with an international education of excellence. The programme is interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary, offering courses taught by professors from both Ca' Foscari and Harvard to 80 students rigorously selected from both institutions.
The Summer School takes place entirely in the Ca' Foscari campus in Venice.
In addition to providing a stimulating and challenging intercultural study environment over the summer, the CFHSS also gives its participants the opportunity to take part in extra-curricular activities in various locations around Venice and its surroundings, allowing students and professors alike to learn, interact, adventure and grow alongside their peers/colleagues from across the Atlantic.
Students enrol in two classes from a range of courses in Social Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Math, and the Humanities, and credits (6 ECTS per course) are recognised at both Universities.
Dates and schedule 2023
- Orientation Day: June 23rd, 2023
- Inaugural Ceremony: June 24th, 2023
- Program starts: June 26th, 2023
- Program ends: August 4th, 2023
- Course Schedule 2023
Designing Augmented Reality Experiences for Museums and Cultural Sites
Schedule: Monday and Wednesday, 09:15-11:45am
The course teaches students how to create a user experience (UX), based on augmented reality (AR) technology, targeted to cultural heritage sites and art exhibitions. Theoretical lectures are complemented by lab sessions focused on different methodological and technical issues involved in the development of an AR-based UX. The scenario for the development is one of the exhibitions or cultural heritage sites available in Venice at the time of the course — for example, the exhibition spaces of Ca’ Giustinian (on the south side of Ca’ Foscari). Students collaborate in small working groups for creating the final prototype.
N.B Students will be required to bring their own computer or device to class.
The Earth's Climate: past, present and future
Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45 - 3:15pm
This course deals with past, present, and future climate changes as evinced from the most recent studies on palaeoclimate archives, such as marine sediments and ice cores. The techniques available for the study of climate are carefully reviewed and the most recent results are presented. Climate changes involve multiple interactions among different components of the climate system, such as the atmosphere, the ocean, the earth, the biosphere, and the ice sheet. One way to make sense of this complex system is to understand the inherent rate at which each of its components respond both to the primary causes of climate change and as part of a web of interactions within the system. Testing of hypothesis by means of climate models strongly supports the experimental data presented in the course.
Private and Public in Renaissance Venice and Beyond
Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:15 - 11:45am
Venetian nobles in the Renaissance were remarkable commissioners of works of art and architecture as well aVenetian nobles in the Renaissance were remarkable commissioners of works of art and architecture as well as of literature and music. Venetian patricians were also cultured collectors of antiquities and even owners of villas and gardens on the mainland. At the same time many of them were distinguished politicians, ruling the state in order to guarantee social peace and the independence of the Serenissima Republic from other European powers. Their private life was performed in a universe of palazzi (buildings), ville (villas) and giardini (gardens), while their public role was practiced both in the Ducal Palace and the basilica of the piazza San Marco, and in the scuole (charitable organizations). The first part of the course focuses on the interaction between private and public life in Renaissance Venice. The chronology is extended to the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries in order to explore the changes that occurred in economic and cultural life and to determine their influence on the residential behavior of the Venetian ruling class. The second part of the course focuses on a number of meaningful locations where, during the Renaissance and beyond, the boundaries of public and private sphere overlapped and blended. These case studies offer examples of critical junctions between private origins and present public use or vice versa, exploring new paradigms in the definition of space in Venice.
The Ethics of Identity
Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 12:45 - 3:15pm
This course engages with the ethical challenges presented by personal and group identities. Built around K. Anthony Appiah’s book, The Ethics of Identity, in conversation with his predecessors, interlocutors, and opponents (among them Kant, Mill, and Rawls), the course focuses on contentious contemporary issues regarding inclusion and exclusion, and on how we can engage with our multiple identities in ethically responsive ways.
Venetian Art and the Bible
Schedule: Monday and Wednesday, 9:15 - 11:45am
William Blake called the Bible “the great code of art.” Nowhere was this statement truer than in the famous Italian centers of art, Rome, Florence, and Venice. But the biblical culture of Venice was special because of her rich contacts with the East: with Islam, with the Greek culture of the Eastern Mediterranean, and with the Holy Land itself. The great cathedral of Venice, Saint Mark’s, is named for the city’s patron, who wrote the oldest and most venerable of the Christian gospels. The Bible provided the artists of Venice with a rich fund of subjects for painting and sculpture. This course gives students an outline of the contents and structure of the Bible similar to what most people in Venice would have had during the period when its greatest art was produced. The aim is for students to be able to look at a work of Venetian art and read not only its biblical subject but also its biblical thinking, especially the subterranean connections between episodes. We also consider how extra-biblical subjects such as saints’ legends and episodes from the apocrypha are themselves extensions of biblical reading. Meeting times are about equally divided between classroom discussion and field trips to sites around Venice. Among the more important of these are Saint Mark’s cathedral, the Doge Palace, the Basilica dei Frari, the Scuola di San Rocco (with its amazing Tintorettos), the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the Basilica della Salute (with Titian’s biblical paintings in the sacristry), and the Accademia gallery, with its great hall containing Veronese’s gigantic and exuberant Feast in the House of Levi and Titian’s large but intimate Pieta,with its subtle biblical meanings adopted to personal expression. The course’s final class concludes in this room, in front of these contrasting visions of the meaning of life, seen through the lens of the Bible.
Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:15 - 11:45am
Saving the planet is necessary and will actually make us happy, right? The good news is that we’re already using ethics to define how we can and should do the right thing in relation to the natural world. In fact, all ethics in the western tradition have used “nature” and “natural” as foundational definitions—we’re more than halfway there! But obviously, we need to be conscious that we’re using those definitions and we must decide which of them to correct or reject. (Ethics from western philosophy have an outsized place in global debates over policy and science, for instance, but should this continue to be the case?) And we’ll need to be more disciplined in how or when we use these ethical definitions, in a calm and rational way, even during panic-inducing states of emergency, such as the climate crisis. (Or a pandemic.) This class is designed to give you, as a human being with rights and as a global citizen with obligations, an intellectual, verbal, and ethical toolkit for dealing with the debates over imperiled natural resources and competing human needs that have become urgent. To do that, you’ll read classic texts in western ethics, analyze contemporary statements on the human-nature interface to how those ethics continue to be used, and write some ethical statements of your own.
Syllabus: More information will follow soon.
Shakespeare's Venice: Jews, Blacks, Muslims, and Christians at the Origin of the Modern World
Schedule: Monday and Wednesday, 12:45 - 3:15pm
A great early modern metropolis and a richly symbolic landscape, Venice is the setting of two seminal plays by Shakespeare, a comedy and a tragedy. The Merchant of Venice and Othello have made the Jewish moneylender Shylock and the Moor Othello the emblematic ethnic and cultural outsiders, figures who both foreshadow and challenge the modern notion of a multicultural community. This course analyzes the Shakespearean texts, reads their principal sources, and charts their controversial critical and theatrical histories. We examine the rich cultural and literary material that informs the plays, including the representations of Africans, Jews, and Muslims, and their multiple resonances in different times and places, including modern adaptations in fiction and film. Our presence in Venice is crucial to our understanding: we explore why the setting for these plays had to be here and not elsewhere, and we visit Venetian sites that illuminate the biblical, classical, and ethnographic contexts that forged Shakespeare’s notions of cultural and religious difference.A great early modern metropolis and a richly symbolic landscape, Venice is the setting of two seminal plays by Shakespeare, a comedy and a tragedy. The Merchant of Venice and Othello have made the Jewish moneylender Shylock and the Moor Othello the emblematic ethnic and cultural outsiders, figures who both foreshadow and challenge the modern notion of a multicultural community. This course analyzes the Shakespearean texts, reads their principal sources, and charts their controversial critical and theatrical histories. We examine the rich cultural and literary material that informs the plays, including the representations of Africans, Jews, and Muslims, and their multiple resonances in different times and places, including modern adaptations in fiction and film. Our presence in Venice is crucial to our understanding: we explore why the setting for these plays had to be here and not elsewhere, and we visit Venetian sites that illuminate the biblical, classical, and ethnographic contexts that forged Shakespeare’s notions of cultural and religious difference.
Note: Prof. Greenblatt will lecture for two weeks of the course.
Prerequisites: none, but a background in Shakespeare is highly advisable.
Italy in a Global Context: 16th-19th Centuries
Schedule: Monday and Wednesday, 12:45 - 3:15pm
This course re-examines the history of Italy in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries through a global lens, highlighting how the Italian peninsula was not a decadent, insular region during this period, but a vital center of far-reaching networks of commercial, political, and cultural exchange. These networks reveal Italian cities as both recipients of and active agents in processes of knowledge formation. The course highlights the importance of port cities such as Venice, Trieste, and Livorno, exploring their roles in the circulation of information ranging from commercial reforms and ideas of human rights to immigration and public health policies. Students examine historical documents from the state archives of Trieste, Modena, Venice, Genoa, and Milan, as well as literary masterpieces of the period, and gain a comprehensive view of recent scholarship on Italy and the new methodological horizons of global history.This course re-examines the history of Italy in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries through a global lens, highlighting how the Italian peninsula was not a decadent, insular region during this period, but a vital center of far-reaching networks of commercial, political, and cultural exchange. These networks reveal Italian cities as both recipients of and active agents in processes of knowledge formation. The course highlights the importance of port cities such as Venice, Trieste, and Livorno, exploring their roles in the circulation of information ranging from commercial reforms and ideas of human rights to immigration and public health policies. Students examine historical documents from the state archives of Trieste, Modena, Venice, Genoa, and Milan, as well as literary masterpieces of the period, and gain a comprehensive view of recent scholarship on Italy and the new methodological horizons of global history.
Orientation and activities
A mandatory Orientation session is held on the first day so as to provide students with the necessary information for the duration of the programme: course schedules, course materials, orientation around Venice and residence information for Harvard students, activity lists, important events, etc.
The programme also includes a variety of cultural activities that students can sign up to so as to get to know Venice, and each other!
Activity Programme 2023
In "Survival Italian" students will develop basic receptive skills, listening and reading, and basic expressions to communicate in Italian with a focus on gaining an understanding of way of life in Venice. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:
- provide basic information in Italian about themselves and daily activities;
- participate in a simple conversation on everyday topics;
- read and pick out important information from authentic texts (e.g. menus, signs, schedules, academic forms, etc.);
- use and understand essential vocabulary related to everyday life;
- interact within the academic context. (ask information to personnel, read and fill the most important forms (libraries, Computer rooms, other facilities)
This course will offer 2 hour classes in the afternoon 2/3 times a week over the first few weeks. We highly recommend Harvard students register so they can make the most out of their Italian summer experience!
Biennale d'Architettura di Venezia
Every year Venice hosts the Biennale di Venezia, alternating between Contemporary Art (Biennale d’Arte) and Architecture (Biennale d’Architettura). Artists come from all over the world to exhibit in two main exhibition spaces, the Arsenale and the Giardini (hosting national pavilions independently managed by the participating countries), as well as in additional buildings/palazzi and spaces around the Venice city center.
This year is the 18th International Architecture Exhibition curated by Lesley Lokko, academic, educator and best-selling novelist, as well as founder of the African Futures Institute in Accra, Ghana. Entitled “The Laboratory of the Future”, the exhibition this year shines a spotlight on Africa and the African Diaspora “that fluid and enmeshed culture of people of African descent that now straddles the globe”, Lesley Lokko states. “Central to all the projects is the primacy and potency of one tool: the imagination” - Lokko said. “It is impossible to build a better world if one cannot first imagine it.”
You will be given a ticket to the Biennale spots that gives you entrance over 3 (separate) days and will take part in two main sessions:
- An introductory presentation on the history of the Biennale d'Arte
- A guided tour of the Giardini/Arsenale area, and a workshop led by an expert scholar who will guide an in-depth casual conversation on reflections and considerations of certain themes present this year.
Palladio at Home
This trip will take students to nearby Vicenza to discover Palladio's home city and the important monuments that he created there. Students will have the chance to be fully immersed in Italian Renaissance, visiting three architectural masterpieces conceived by the great artist Andrea Palladio.
The Basilica Palladiana was built in the 15th century and re-shaped in mid 16th century by Palladio, assuming its current stunning features. Palazzo Chiericati was conceived by Palladio as a private building for Girolamo Chiericati. Seeing as from 1839 onwards the Palazzo has hosted guests at the local art gallery, presenting paintings and sculpture from the Renaissance to the contemporary era, students can visit both the interior and the exterior of the magestic building.
We will also visit the glorious Teatro Olimpico, part of UNESCO World Heritage. Designed by Palladio but completed just after his death, the theatre is one of only three Renaissance theatres remaining in existence, and it is still used several times a year.
Afterwards students will be free to visit the city on their own.
Venice from the Water
Do you wonder what exploring Venice feels like from the canals? Find out through a fun and physical dragon boating excursion! Students will be guided by a team from our University sporting association (who will accompany you in the dragonboats), in a trip through Venice’s canals and the lagoon that will last a couple of hours. Make sure to wear shorts and sneakers (leave the flip-flops at home) and to bring a bottle of water! The event will be post-poned in the event of rain.
The City and its Tourists: the Venetian paradox
This tour by foot investigates the complex relationship between Venice and (over)tourism, exploring how the rising of a tourist monoculture is jeopardising both the physical and the social environment of the city. By focusing on different topics, such as the saturation of public space, hindrances to accessing housing, the transformation of the commercial sector, and the intense motorized use of waterways, participants will be guided through the challenges that this city under pressure is facing and struggling with in order to survive as a living entity.
Urban scholar and expert in the field Giacomo-Maria Salerno will accompany students to a select few locations around Venice where it is possible to see and feel these unique dynamics, allowing a reflection on what Venice's future may look like.
Fallani Venezia is an artisanal screen print studio in Venice that has been printing high-quality serigraphy prints through its own technical skills and sensibilities, so as to interpret and transform the works of painters, sculptors, photographers, illustrators, street artists, graphic designers, and more, since 1968.
The Studio continues to print on commission, and also offers workshops and artist residencies offering the chance to learn and experiment the versatility and the potential of this printing technique. This workshop will consist in a tour of the laboratory where you can discover screen printing and learn the process.
Scarpa in Venice
Carlo Scarpa, born in Venice 1906, may well be one of the most controversial and underappreciated architects of the 20th century. Following his graduation from the Accademia of Fine Arts in architectural studies, his refusal to sit the professional exam administrated by the Italian Government after World War II meant he was never allowed to officially practice architecture. For this reason, those who worked with him called him “Professor”, rather than “architect”.
This walking tour takes students to a number of locations in Venice where Scarpa's works can still be seen today. Guided by Cfhss Director Paolo Pellizzari, you will learn about how these works came about, the significance they have in that precise location, along with other insights into the "Professor" himself.
Voga alla Veneta
The relationship between Venice and the water that surrounds the city has always conditioned the Venetian way of life and put special limits to the socio-economic development of Venetian society. This activity aims at giving students an insight into the evolution of Venetian rowing, from the height of the Venetian Republic in the 1700's to the present day in which it is practiced as a highly competitive sport, and through the classic gondola ride that has become a "must do" tourist attraction. The course will offer 5-6 lessons over three weeks with the final session uniting students in a "mini regatta" in which the crews will match their skills, and learn the rules of competition.
How to apply (Ca' Foscari students)
Applications are closed. Admission requirements and more information can be found in the Call for Applications.
Applications are now closed.
For all information please see the Call for Applications, or contact
Enrolment is not complete unless the International Programs office has received the following:
- Submission of acceptance form online
- Payment of the fees
- Enrolment at Harvard Summer School
Admitted students must also read the attached .pdf file "Acceptance procedure and conditions of enrolment".
Admission Requirements (Ca' Foscari students):
- Undergraduate students: applicants must be regularly enrolled at Ca’ Foscari for the 2022/2023 academic year in the first, second or third year of an undergraduate degree by January 31st, 2023.
- Graduate students: applicants in the first year of a graduate degree are eligible for application but will only be admitted if there are places available once all eligible undergraduate students have been accepted.
- Applicants must have a good working knowledge of English (a solid B2 is expected).
Please note that Harvard students, as well as all students coming from other Universities, must apply through the Harvard Summer School.
All credits gained during the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School are recognised by both institutions.
CFHSS courses can be included on your academic transcript at Ca' Foscari in one of three ways:
- Elective credits (“esami a libera scelta”)
- Extra credits (“esami in sovrannumero”)
- Substitution of obligatory – core – credits ("equipollenze")
Credit substitution ("equipollenze")
Only some departments or teaching committees (collegio didattico) may approve the substitution of obligatory credits (equipollenze) in students' study plans. All information will be available in this section soon.
"A libera scelta" e "in sovrannumero" / Elective or extra credits
Most students will be able to have all CFHSS courses recognised as elective credits or extra credits, but please keep an eye on this section for further details in the coming week.
The Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School was established in 2006 in an unprecedented joint venture between two universities eager to develop a unique bond. The programme was to be based on the principle of an equal footing; both universities contributing equally, same number of professors and students, same requirements, same procedures of admission, a board with an equal number of members from each university directing the course of studies.
Throughout the numerous summers, one after another, this unparalleled programme has not only strengthened academic and professional bonds between the two Universities and its students, but has also formed long-lasting memories and friendships across the Atlantic. The uniqueness of the CFHSS comes from its direct cross-cultural exchange, its distinguished academic schedule supported through a rich array of activities and events, and - of course - its magical location!
“What was Venice and what is Venice? The center of an Empire, a visitable past, a modern tourist’s extravaganza? Big questions that touched the students, we are being turned into pioneers, said one of them, pioneers in making Venetian culture new by becoming part of it. They visited San Marco at night, confronted its mosaics with those of Sant’Apollinare in Ravenna, made mosaics, and potteries, took photographs of Venetian types, went along the Brenta, roamed in the lagoon, paused in front of the Carpaccios, the Veroneses and in front of Tiepolo’s Mondo Novo. And congregated in Campo Santa Margherita, at the end all together rooted for Italy in the soccer world cup. Friendships in and outside the classrooms, studying hard and helping each other, celebrating July 4th and the Redentore. Understanding differences and embracing similarities. And now, ten intensive years later, this for me is the accomplished mission of the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School, and it is most deserving of celebration”
Director, Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School 2006 - 2015
In 2015 the Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School celebrated its 10th year. The programme organised a weekend of activities and events in order to celebrate, continue, and consolidate the bond that has formed between Venice, Ca' Foscari and Harvard over the years.
In occasion of the 10 year benchmark, the Summer School also published a collection of works, thoughts, experiences and memories, as recounted by students, Faculty and staff of the programme.
Last update: 04/07/2023