Increased student interest and passion drives expansion of Italian Studies program

Much like the Italian Renaissance itself, Lafayette’s Italian Studies program is experiencing a rebirth. The interdisciplinary program, which has existed at the college for more than six years, is being expanded by Professor Anthony Cummings, professor of music and the coordinator for Italian Studies.

The Italian Studies minor, which currently consists of three core classes and three elective classes, is being expanded to include a month-long, language-intensive study abroad opportunity in Florence, Italy. The purpose of the program is to improve students’ comprehension of the Italian language and to further expose them to Italian art, history, literature and science.

For those involved in the abroad program, weekdays in Florence will involve extensive studying and practicing of the language, followed by various courses on Florentine political history, literature and science. Besides classroom instruction, the program also features a walking tour of Florence and an opportunity to see Galileo’s telescopes.

The second recent development to the Italian Studies program is the new self-designed Italian Studies major, which allows students to take the six courses required for the minor along with an additional three courses. Students hoping to major in Italian Studies will also be required to complete a culminating capstone project.

Cummings, one of the primary orchestrators of these developments, has been involved from start to finish for the program’s expansion. Coming from an Italian-American background, Cummings grew up surrounded by Italian culture and language. This evolved into a professional interest in Italian studies and Renaissance Italian music in particular. The quality and richness of Italian material and art, he said, is one of the primary motivators in expanding the program.

Another motivator, Cummings said, is the fact that Lafayette is falling behind other schools when it comes to Italian studies. DeSales University, for instance, has a study-abroad excursion that takes students to Rome. From historical and scientific viewpoints, Cummings also noted, Italy is considered very important in the context of the larger Mediterranean culture.

Most importantly, Cummings attributes the growing affinity for the Italian Studies minor to the substantial increase in interest from Lafayette students, as well as the growing number of Italian-American students who attend the college. The new and improved Italian Studies program hopes to create an experience where students can encounter Italian culture both on campus and abroad.

“These students want to experience Italy,” Cummings said.