Early Childhood Education in Florence: Graduate Program

Use Florence and greater Italy as your classroom during this 4-week, 6-credit program. Your program will consist of lectures, cultural activities, excursions and school visits. These activities and visits will help you use Italy as a case study to examine issues of cross-cultural psychology and how they affect education in different countries.  Additionally, you will have the opportunity to complete a research project of your own choosing, with the ability to gather data in Italy while working under the guidance of a Pitt professor. 

This program is designed for students who are pursuing graduate degrees in the School of Education or a related field.  There is an undergraduate education in Florence program with different courses/learning objectives as well.  Please apply to the correct program for your academic level. Undergraduate students that are interested in early childhood education can find more information at  www.abroad.pitt.edu/florenceed

What You'll Accomplish

As an active and engaged participant on this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • The ability to use theory in practice when working with young children and literature
  • Deeper knowledge of best practices in teaching English Language Learners and managing bilingual classrooms
  • Language and literacy practices for young children, including applied theories, language development and literature selection

 

Florence, Italy is the capital city of the Firenze province and Tuscany region with approximately 370,000 inhabitants and expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. It is surrounded by the picturesque rolling hills of Tuscany. Florence is a majestic city that is visually stunning, culturally rich and has a storied past. Florence was founded as a Roman Military colony around the 1st Century BC. The city’s population began to grow due to its location in the fertile, farmable hills. Its location also was perfect for economic development in the region. Florence became a haven for an ever-growing immigrant population that still exists today. Florence has its strong Italian roots, but is also very much a multi-cultural city.

Due to the growing economy and influx of immigrants it became the perfect location for merchants and artists. This in part, led to the Renaissance period in the 14th to 16th centuries. Many of the most influential artists of that time period flocked to the city to work on their art including Michelangelo, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Leonardo da Vinci. They left behind masterpieces in the forms frescoes, sculptures, paintings and architecture that are still visible throughout the city today. Students will earn 3-credits in History of Art and Architecture. The city will be your classroom for this program as it feels like a living, breathing museum of Italian Renaissance masterpieces. Florence is a major tourist destination, but the authentic-Italian experience is easy to discover.

Temperatures and precipitation vary based on the season. In May, the temperatures are pretty mild can average 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 54 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The old stone buildings across the city are designed to make sure they are never too hot, nor too cold. It is important though to be prepared with a variety of clothes that you can layer with during your semester. It’s also a good idea to bring a comfortable pair of slippers for walking around your apartments.

 

Where You'll Live

Students will live like a Florentine during their time abroad. Housing placements are scattered throughout the city-center and location depends on availability and housing option. Exact addresses are provided closer to departure. The city is a very flat, pedestrian friendly, and walkable city.

Like the streets of Florence, no two apartments on the Pitt in Florence program are alike in terms of design, but all will give you a comfortable place to call home in Italy.  Most apartments are located within an hour commute to the CAPA Center, either on foot or by bus. Apartments are still within what is considered the city-center.  

You can expect the following at your accommodations:

  • Shared bedroom
  • There are typically up to six students in each apartment
  • A fully equipped kitchen
  • En-suite bathroom
  • Shared living area
  • Washing machine(s) in the building (Italian apartments typically do not have dryers).  
  • Meals aren’t included, so plan on learning to cook with local ingredients or budget money to eat out.

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions. 

What You'll Study

You'll earn a total of 6 credits on the Early Childhood Education in Italy program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same courses. The Cross-Cultural Psychology course and Directed-Study courses are taught by Pitt professor Michelle Sobolak. The course will be taught in English and it will be comprised of lectures, guest speakers, city tours, cultural activities and visits to local schools around Florence. You will also have the opportunity to meet and engage with local teachers and school administrators.

If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your academic advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you. 

 

Special Topics: Cross-Cultural Psychology (PSYED2588)

This course is an overview of the theoretical and methodological issues that characterize cross-cultural research in psychology. Students will grapple with the inherent limitations in comparing cultures, and with the historical tensions between looking for universal and culturally specific phenomena. We will read and discuss empirical examples from across many cultures, but will conduct observations in Italy as case examples.

Directed Study Masters (PSYED2598)

This course is intended to provide graduate students with an opportunity to conduct their own research project in Italy. This project will be individualized to meet the needs and interests of each student. All projects, however, will include data collection in Italy, and a final paper written in the form of a manuscript suitable for submission to a professional journal. Projects may include (1) intensive data collection in Italy, or (2) light data collection in the U.S. (prior to the trip to Italy) and in Italy to allow for cross-cultural comparisons.

Depending on your academic stage, this project may serve as the initial steps toward a pre-dissertation project or some other academic milestone. If so, however, you are expected to work with the Directed Study Instructor, and be in close contact with an academic advisor.

If you are interested in presenting this project data, or publishing it, you will need to complete an IRB proposal at Pitt before collecting data. Due to the potential complexity of international IRB proposals, if you would like to go through this process you should meet with the Directed Study Instructor by February 2020 at the latest (preferably much earlier).

Directed Study PHD (PSYED3598)

This course is intended to provide graduate students with an opportunity to conduct their own research project in Italy. This project will be individualized to meet the needs and interests of each student. All projects, however, will include data collection in Italy, and a final paper written in the form of a manuscript suitable for submission to a professional journal. Projects may include (1) intensive data collection in Italy, or (2) light data collection in the U.S. (prior to the trip to Italy) and in Italy to allow for cross-cultural comparisons.

Depending on your academic stage, this project may serve as the initial steps toward a pre-dissertation project or some other academic milestone. If so, however, you are expected to work with the Directed Study Instructor, and be in close contact with an academic advisor.

If you are interested in presenting this project data, or publishing it, you will need to complete an IRB proposal at Pitt before collecting data. Due to the potential complexity of international IRB proposals, if you would like to go through this process you should meet with the Directed Study Instructor by February 2020 at the latest (preferably much earlier).

The University of Pittsburgh partners with the CAPA the Global Education Network for this program. For more than 45 years CAPA: The Global Education Network has worked with institutions of higher education to build programs that meet their goals for learning abroad. CAPA operates education centers in Global Cities and have developed distinct academic offerings, support frameworks, and oversight structures for students and visiting faculty.

The CAPA Florence Center is housed in Palazzo Galli-Tassi, a 15th century palace in the Santa Croce neighborhood. The CAPA Florence team is available throughout your program to assist and support you 24/7 with any urgent situations.

There are many CAPA-led events during the program through CAPA’s own My Global City Program. These events/activities may include a walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for stunning views over the city of Florence and a hike in the nearby hills, followed by dinner in one of the best pizzerias in town. Other activities, often self-guided, reflect what is on in the city at the time and may include a walking tour to the most important markets of Florence, tasting typical Italian snacks, a night at the Opera or attending soccer match at the Florence Stadium. Some events/activities are free while others may require a small fee. Many students say that the CAPA My Global City Programs were some of the best experiences on their entire program.

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts

Nazir Noori

Salam! I’m Nazir and I'm your Study Abroad Program Manager. I was born and raised abroad and went to schools in Afghanistan, Iran, and the U.S. I also took classes in India and United Arab Emirates. I worked for the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and German Foreign Office for over ten years before moving to Pittsburgh in 2014. At the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, I assisted Afghan students to study in the U.S., and now I'm glad I have the opportunity to help American students study abroad.

Stop by the office during my walk-in hours (Tue, Wed, Thu from 2-4pm) or get in touch with me at nazir.noori@pitt.edu or 412-383-4827 to discuss the study abroad options.

 
 
Your In-Country Contacts

Professor Michelle Sobolak

Professor Michelle Sobolak earned her Ph.D. in Reading Education at the University of Pittsburgh.  She is currently an Associate Professor of Practice and the Director of Teacher Education. Her teaching and research interests include innovative and technology supported preparation of preservice teachers and best practices for preparation of reading specialists.  She is a former reading specialist, literacy coach and first grade teacher.  

 

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $4,656 $4,856
Program Fee $1,243 $1,243
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $6,199 $6,399

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare ~$1,400
Meals and Personal Expenses  $1,000 - $1,500

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad. Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

 

What's Included

As a part of your Florence program fee, the follow are included in the program:

  • Tuition for six credits
  • Guest lectures and panel discussions
  • Shared apartments in Florence for the duration of your program
  • Class related activities and site visits
  • Welcome and farewell meals
  • Full day excursion to Reggio Emilia area
  • Full day excursion to Siena and San Gimignano
  • International travel insurance
  • Florence bus pass for the duration of the program

 

 

What Else You Need to Know

 

  • This program is designed for students who are pursuing graduate degrees in the School of Education or a related field.
  • In addition to the Study Abroad Office agreement meeting and pre-departure orientation, all students MUST attend two academic sessions prior to departure for Florence. These sessions will count as class sessions towards your grade. Dates for these sessions will be set once the group is finalized in February 2020.
  • You do not need a passport to start the application process, but will need to begin the process of getting one as soon as possible
  • If you are a non-US citizen, you may need a visa to travel to Italy, in which case you will be responsible for your visa. The Study Abroad Office will provide the supporting documents for your visa, but you will need to travel to Philadelphia to obtain the visa.
  • Due to the nature of the program, the schedule is subject to change. There may be instances where a guest speaker or visit needs to be rescheduled. We ask for your patience and understanding in advance.
  • Time management skills will be a very important part of this program.
  • Remember that this is an academic program and that you should expect to invest the same amount of time and effort on your courses abroad as you would on a course at Pitt. 
  • You will do a lot of walking on this program. Make sure you pack comfortable shoes!