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Volterra Detroit

First class of UDM students at the new facility in Volterra.

Study abroad programs remain a “life-altering” part of the SOA student experience

In 1980, the School of Architecture introduced its first study abroad opportunity to students when Professor Jerzy Staniskis established the exchange program with Warsaw University of Technology in Poland. Today, the program remains true to its original intent.

Ten to 12 UDM students spend a term of study in Poland, while the Polish students spend a term at UDM. Classes are taken with professors from the visited school. The professor who is also exchanged teaches a design or visual communication studio to students from the host institution, as well as lectures about architectural issues in his or her home country. The program was designed to ensure the maximum impact in both schools, not only for the participants but for the student body at large. Since its initiation in 1980, more than 300 students from each school have participated in the exchange.

Although the study abroad program in Volterra, Italy began in 1985, the School of Architecture introduced a new permanent facility to house the program in 2013. Last May, the first class of students began their semester-long summer program at the Volterra International Residential College, a beautifully renovated historic building in Volterra.

The Volterra/Detroit program also provides students with a global perspective of architecture. Although it is a more typical summer study program, it operates with the support of the Regional Government of Tuscany. The full semester of study in the hill-town of Volterra permits extensive interaction with the residents and provides a unique insight into their social, economic and political situation. In addition to design, students learn about alabaster sculpture, the history of Italian art and are introduced to the Italian language and culture.

With both programs, an international perspective gives students the ability to compete in an increasingly global profession. International programs are considered life-altering to the students and help fulfill the mission of the School including creating “socially responsible world citizens,” engaging the “urban context” and being “learner-centered.”