GPR to Siena 2015

Palazzo Pubblico, Siena's Gothic City Hall

Palazzo Pubblico, Siena’s Gothic City Hall

Welcome to our information page for our upcoming 2015 program to Siena, Italy! Sponsored by the Department of Geography, Planning & Recreation. Other majors welcome!

Exploring Tuscany: Local Tradition & Global Change.

(See a fun, 4-minute promotional music video from our 2014 program, by Prof. Paradis)

Siena, Italy is one of Europe’s safest, walkable small cities on numerous measures. You can earn 6 NAU credits and explore this medieval city for a month! The Department of Geography, Planning & Recreation is proud to sponsor our second education-abroad program, for almost five weeks during summer, 2015, mostly corresponding with NAU’s Summer Session 1. We are looking for enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate students to join Professors Paradis, Manone, and Wheeler for this unforgettable academic experience. You can earn 6 credits and apply them to your own degree program or electives (discuss with your faculty advisor). Topics are designed especially for undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Geography, Planning & Recreation, though other NAU students interested in studying our interdisciplinary topics (see below) are encouraged to apply. There are no prerequisites.

Topics will relate to walkability and livable cities, urban history, tourism development and impact of mass tourism, architecture and design, public spaces, community development, Italian and European cultures, the European Union, social research methods, introductory GIS mapping techniques, and opportunities to explore the Tuscan countryside on foot.

Official Online Application Page: Click here  for the official Education Abroad application page provided by the NAU Center for International Education (CIE). This is where you will apply for the Siena program and find more information about what to expect for housing, costs, courses, etc. Although the official application deadline is March 15, 2015 we are encouraging earlier applications to lock in our required minimum of 7 students. We cannot continue to plan for flight reservations or housing until we do so.

Siena in Photos: See the Flickr Photostream for Siena by Prof. Tom Paradis. Includes recent photos of the July, 2013 and 2014 Palio and the contrade (neighborhoods). Those of you joining us in Summer 2015 will experience the Palio and its related community events.

Program of Study: Students will be required to enroll for six NAU credit hours, which includes the following academic package and options:

  • Two required courses: GSP 348 Area Studies: Tuscany, Italy, and the European Union; GSP 376 Regional Geography of Tourism & Recreation (courses also apply toward 3-6 credits of Liberal Studies if you need them, and GSP students can apply these credits for your 6-credit requirement of GSP Experiential Learning or as major electives. You can also substitute GSP 376 for the GSP 276 required for the Planning & Community Development emphasis!)
  • Excursions to Venice, Florence, and regional hiking around Siena, all integrating various applied course projects;
  • Intro GIS mapping techniques (with Prof. Manone) and personalized “story map” online projects (Appropriate for students in any major or discipline.)
  • Siena’s world-renowned Palio horse race and associated rituals and community functions.
  • Lessons on building cohesive community through Siena’s 17 close-knit neighborhoods, or “contrade”.
  • The Palio will provide the primary academic topic of the program’s final week in Siena (see below), held annually on July 2.
  • Graduate students can enroll for graduate credit! Please inquire with one of the faculty members (contact info below).

Program Dates and Flights:

Students will be expected to take a group flight (with few exceptions) into Rome, allowing the group to travel together using ground transportation from Rome to Siena. The actual flight will be determined at a later date. (This will likely be a USAirways flight from Philadelphia or Charlotte, to Rome). You should plan to either meet us in Flagstaff, Phoenix, or Philly/Charlotte for the international flights. At the conclusion of the program, students may choose when and how to leave Italy. Some return directly home, while others use the opportunity to travel further.

Known Program Dates include the following:

  • NAU Orientations: Two orientation meetings will be required during the last weeks of spring semester. (Dates to be determined.)
  • May Intersession (after spring semester): Initial readings and online course requirements, prior to departure for Italy. These academic requirements will be handled online, allowing us to spread out the 6-credits of course requirements.
  • Fri, June 5: Depart on flights to Rome, Italy.
  • Sat, June 6: Arrive Siena, afternoon (time zone is 9 hours earlier than Arizona time!)
  • Sun, June 7: Orientation to Siena and initial instruction.
  • June 29 – July 2: Days of the Palio!
  • Sat, July 4: Program Conclusion. Wrap-up and final class meetings.
  • Sun, July 5: Depart Siena for overnight in Rome (airport). Buon Viaggio!
  • Mon, July 6: Depart Rome for home

This generally falls within the NAU 5-week Summer Session 1. Students can return to NAU for Summer Session II if desired after July 5.

Who Should Apply? Undergraduate and graduate students interested in topics related to walkable and livable cities, community development, public spaces, architecture and urban design, and issues surrounding mass tourism. Especially intended for students in:

  • BS Geographic Science & Community Planning (including geography and planning majors)
  • BS Parks & Recreation Management,
  • MS Applied Geospatial Sciences,
  • MA Sustainable Communities,
  • Related majors in History, Sociology, Psychology, Environmental Science, and others interested in livable cities, healthy communities, and/or European/Global studies.

The Palio Experience: Engage with one of the world’s most enthralling community celebrations. Learn its ties with history, community, sense of place, and local pride. The race itself is just the tip of the iceberg. The last week of our program will focus on the Days of the Palio, held on July 2. Watch a 2-minute Video of the Palio in July, 2014 during our most recent program.

Program Costs: The cost per student for this 6-credit program is now finalized at $3,938. This price includes tuition for 6 summer NAU credits, student housing in Siena, all NAU fees and health insurance, program-required field excursions and local events, and all facilities used for classes. This cost does not include airfare or food costs. You will be encouraged to find some relatively painless ways to lower your costs, which can pay for airfare and more (see next section below!). This is considered an affordable study abroad program compared to other similar experiences overseas. See if you can take advantage this year!

How to Lower Your Costs: A variety of options for scholarships and other funding sources will be available to students, including the following:

  • All students majoring within the Department of Geography, Planning & Recreation are eligible for GPR Education Abroad Travel Scholarships up to $1,000 (See the scholarship form link under Experiential Learning). A short application process will be necessary, and will be competitive based on academic success and need.
  • The “No Excuses Scholarship”: This is a competitive scholarship of between $500 and $1,500 through the Center for International Education (more info forthcoming). Do not ignore this one, as most students who apply receive some funding!
  • Take advantage of annual departmental scholarships that might be advertised annually through your home department/school. These can be applied for future NAU tuition and therefore indirectly lower your total tuition cost.
  • Some students can plan to use leftover financial aid, or apply for new financial aid, for the summer program specifically.

Program Payment Schedule: The payment schedule works like this: You need to pay an initial application fee of $100 and a program deposit of $500 charged to your account once you complete their application online. Then, once the application deadline hits (around March 15), the program fee will be added (minus the deposit amount). The deposit is non-refundable, so students who withdraw after completing their application will not get it back. Next, the tuition will be charged to your account roughly the same time the program fee does, perhaps a little bit later. Thus, it is important to keep in mind that the charges will be incremental as we approach the summer. No part of the program fee can be enrolled in a payment plan and must be paid by the deadline of March 15 (the tuition charge, which is charged separately, can be enrolled in a payment plan).

Students with questions about financial aid should talk to Julie Nava in the Financial Aid office ( Most loans and cash grants can apply to this program. Tuition waiver (AIMS, President’s, Dean’s, etc.) cannot apply to this program. Students interested in study abroad scholarships should see Danielle Varnes ( Sitting down with Julie Nava early is highly recommended.

Requirements for Acceptance

Prior knowledge or experience with foreign languages and/or travel abroad is not necessary. Students will take beginner Italian lessons (if necessary) as part of this program, guided by the faculty (see above).

The Faculty: Join Professors Tom Paradis, Mark Manone, and Margo Wheeler, who will co-teach the NAU courses taught in Siena. All three faculty members teach in the Geographic Science & Community Planning degree program at NAU, in the Department of Geography, Planning & Recreation. Together they focus their teaching and research on human and cultural geography, urban planning and design, urban geography and history, geospatial sciences, and GIS mapping techniques. Please feel free to speak with or email any of them to ask questions or to find possible ways to help you go.


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