Published: Sept. 7, 2021

Urban Site Analysis and Design Global Seminar, Summer 2021

This summer, 15 Environmental Design students spent six weeks abroad in Italy for the Rome Global Seminar, led by Assistant Clinical Professor Marianne Holbert. It's been over a year and a half since the Urban Site Analysis and Design seminar gathered and traveled abroad due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

"It was a celebration of the return of experiential learning," Assistant Clinical Professor Marianne Holbert said. "Being together, even with face masks on, was a delight. We did not take for granted the ability to be in the same moment–to hear the same sounds, to share laughter and to discuss our mutual experiences."

Holbert's seminar experienced the city of Rome during a time that was "virtually devoid" of tourists and travelers. Students visited sites such as the Pantheon, Colosseum and Vatican. Academic excursions included the towns of Tivoli, Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza, Sabaudia and San Felice Circeo. The group also attended a chair-building workshop that focused on the work of the Milanese designer Enzo Mari at the Appia Antica Park. 

While Holbert admits that selecting one memory or highlight from the trip would be difficult, she reminisced of their time at Appia Antica Park. The group found themselves in a mausoleum where they were able to reflect and discuss their experiences abroad.

"Discussing our experiences in Rome and living abroad in this context was unlike any other teaching experience I have ever had," Holbert said. "I will hold onto that moment and memory to revisit in years to come. I am reminded of the value of teaching courses like these, where the dialogue with the world, culture and one another becomes enriching in ways that no other constructed academic environment or prescribed format can ever offer."