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Notes From Prato
Visit Notes From Prato for ongoing updates about our students’ semester abroad, as related by program director Dr. Andrea Brode.
For many, Tuscany conjures up vineyards and fresh pasta. For the Beacon-in-Tuscany student, the word conjures up something else: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In 1989, a group of parents founded a college to offer higher education opportunities to students who learn differently. Building on a long legacy of international study abroad, Beacon College, a nonprofit liberal arts institution in Leesburg, Florida, has developed a program based in Prato — a city and commune in Tuscany — designed to advance that proud tradition and serve students hearty helpings of European culture, history and the arts.
BestColleges.com ranks Beacon College among the 10 best colleges in Florida and Beacon-in-Tuscany honors that high standard. Beacon College is the first college or university accredited to award bachelor’s degrees primarily to students with learning disabilities and ADHD; Beacon-in-Tuscany delivers the only semester-long international study program primarily for students who learn differently which not only broadens perspectives but expands resumes with the kind of global experiences that employers now demand.
Beacon-in-Tuscany affords students the occasion to complete elective academic tracks with vibrant and proximate connections to medieval history while studying in the classroom and around the cradle of the Renaissance through weekly field trips.
The Beacon-in-Tuscany campus at the Università degli Studi di Firenze is located minutes away from Hotel Giardino — and within walking distance of the Castello dell’Imperatore, a castle fortified with embrasures and towers built for King of Sicily Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor.
The program offers curricula, activities and amenities (including a meal plan that includes access to 25 restaurants) that nurture scholarship, enhance safety, and invite contemplation.
A learning specialist, resident director, and local Italian professionals will assist students jolted by culture shock or rocked by homesickness, illness or other emergencies.
Tentative courses include:
- Introduction to Italian Art (Tuscany) — this course focuses on the art and architecture of Tuscany. The class covers artistic styles, trends, and movements through discussions and tours of historically relevant Italian sites and museums.
- Architectural and Landscape Photography — This class will focus on the successful use of composition, subject and content through photographs of architecture and landscape. Students will focus on journalistic, formal, abstract and conceptual photographic styles.
- Plein Air Drawing and Painting — This course will focus on outdoor drawing and painting. We will discuss methods and processes of rendering landscapes, architecture and a variety of lighting effects.
- Writing for the Modern Professional — Students will learn writing techniques for the professional world. Students will explore ways to effectively communicate via various channels including social media sites, emails, memos, and reports. Students will analyze their intended audience, their purpose, and the available communication mediums to determine the best way to most effectively convey their message in the workplace environment. Editing skills will be utilized to repurpose the message for multiple formats.
- Topics in Writing: Travel Narrative — Students will mine Italy’s landmarks and cultural hotspots as the inspiration for narrative writing. Through peer editing workshops and individual conferences, they will produce informative and entertaining articles highlighting their experiences in Italy. Students will publish their articles on a blog.
- Topics in Literature: European Literature — Students will explore literature written by Italian authors or set in Italy. They will gain an appreciation for European culture as they analyze the readings and reflect on their own experiences in a foreign land.
- Beacon-in-Tuscany Capstone Course — Students will integrate the information learned in their experiences in Italy and demonstrate their knowledge in a multi-media presentation.
Italian Language Requirement
Students studying abroad at Beacon-in-Tuscany will enjoy an immersive Italian experience living in the heart of the historical center of Prato at the Hotel Giardino, a 19th-century hotel seated at the foot of Monte Retaia.
The quarters face the Piazza del Duomo square where the glorious gothic-Romanesque Saint Stephen’s Cathedral stands. Prato’s Porta al Serraglio railway station, which connects to the Florence Viareggio line, is about a five-minute walk from the hotel, as well as the central bus stop that serves Florence and all major routes.
|Term||Year||App Deadline||Decision Date||Start Date||End Date|
|Fall||2017||March 20, 2017||April 1, 2017||Aug. 28 (Leesburg campus)||Dec. 4
Q: What areas will students study?
A: Students enrolled in the Fall 2017 Beacon-in-Tuscany program will receive study elective and core courses in English, Literature, and Art, as well as a Capstone course that embraces knowledge gleaned from time in the Tuscany milieu.
Q: How many students will study in Tuscany?
A: Twenty-five to thirty students will comprise the fall class.
Q: Who is eligible?
A: Juniors, seniors and other students who exhibit appropriate maturity and motivation.
Q: Are there academic requirements?
A: Eligible students must carry at least a 2.5 GPA.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Tuition, room and board for students enrolled in the Beacon-in-Tuscany program compares to what students at the Leesburg campus pay per semester — excluding airfare, orientation fee, and incidentals.
Q: Do I need a passport?
A: Students, who wish to study abroad but lack a valid passport, or possess a passport that will expire within six months after you’re the semester ends, should plan immediately to apply for or renew your passport to avoid unexpected lengthy processing times.
Q: With whom will students in the Beacon-in-Tuscany program travel and who will shepherd students in Italy?
A: Beacon College faculty and staff trained to teach and guide students with learning differences will be responsible for supporting students in the Beacon-in-Tuscany program.
Q: How do I apply?
A: This program is already underway. Please check back for next year’s application.