OU junior and history of science major Elizabeth Wilcox is off to Italy this summer. She is enrolled in two courses that are a part of the College of Arts and Sciences “Journey to Italy” Summer Study Abroad Program.
“The Journey to Italy” consists of two upper division 3 credit courses:
AHI 3313: Art and Culture in Italy, a hands-on Art History course, taught by Kirk Duclaux, Director of Italian Programs in Italy for the University of Oklahoma, and IAS 3920: The Age of Galileo: Science and Culture in the Renaissance, co-taught by Kathleen Crowther and Peter Barker, both professors at OU's History of Science Department.
Referring to The Age of Galileo, Associate Professor Crowther said “the course will introduce students to the development of modern science in the period between 1500-1800, demonstrating the pivotal role played by Italian artists, intellectuals and institutions. This was an exciting time in which Galileo reintroduced the Copernican heliocentric model of the cosmos, many scientific societies were established, and women were first included into the ranks of scientists.” Professor Barker said that “The interconnections of art, science and religion that were so characteristic for the early modern period will provide participants with a fuller picture of Italy's cultural history, bridging the gap between the sciences and the humanities”.
Visits to the Vatican Museums in Rome, the Uffizi Gallery and the Museo Galileo in Florence, and an additional day-trip to the Museo di Palazzo Poggi in Bologna, will bring to life the fascinating ways in which Renaissance Italians produced both revolutionary scientific knowledge and timeless art. Professors Crowther and Barker say their goal is to stimulate students to think about the ways in which science in all periods, including our own, is embedded and influenced by a broader social, cultural and intellectual matrix.
The program runs from June 1st to June 30th. During her month abroad, Elizabeth and the other enrolled students will travel through Rome, Florence and Venice before arriving at OU’s Italian center in Arezzo.
Karen Elmore, the director of the CAS study abroad programs said that the “Journey to Italy” program is the most popular of the College’s study abroad programs. “Experiential activities, cultural events and lectures from OU professors combine to give Journey to Italy participants a broad introduction to the cultural and historical context of Italy”, she said. “Students have also ample opportunities to explore the visited cities on their own, and plan one-to-two day-trips to other Italian regions during their stay in Arezzo.”
Elizabeth is particularly looking forward to the Museo Storico Nazionale dell'Arte Sanitaria (National Historical Museum of Health) in Rome. “I love how people have tried to use science for so much good, particularly in medicine", she said. "I am fascinated with science and particularly the stories and people behind it.” Elizabeth will be going to Europe a few weeks before classes start to visit Paris. “I will be visiting a few science history museums, primarily the Musée des Arts et Métiers and the Muséum national d'Histoire Naturelle”, she said.
Elizabeth has agreed to post regular updates about her experiences and photographs of the places she visits, so if you are interested in finding out more of what studying the history of science abroad entails, you can follow Elizabeth’s exploits here.
This is not the first time that OU’s History of Science Department has participated in the College Study Abroad Program. In Summer 2010 Assistant Professor Piers Hale collaborated with Zoology Professor Ingo Schlupp to take fifteen students to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands to study the history of evolution and evolutionary ecology in the tropics. OU History of Science student Amanda Finnen wrote about her experiences here. Keep your eyes on this page for future history of science study abroad opportunities!
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