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Culture Focus

Opportunities Abound at Temple Rome

Emma Krampe April 17, 2019

Illustration: Sana Kewalramani

In history books, Rome is a static place. The Colosseum, the Roman Forum, every piece of art and history is preserved on the page in two dimensions. But even the most ubiquitous historical emblems never remain the same for long. In real life, Rome is a dynamic city, one confronting the challenges of a modern world inside of an old body. Amid its venerable lens, study abroad students find a perspective balanced across histories.

With over half a century along the Tiber River, the Temple University Rome campus has mastered its role as an intermediary between American students and the Italian community. Its commitment to arts and history, but also its willingness to progress into new disciplines and endeavors has allowed it to become more accessible than ever before.

A History in Art

When the Rome campus was founded in 1966 by the Tyler School of Art, Temple came to do what Rome does best, forging its roots in painting, sculpture, and art history. Over time, however, the program has broadened its academic focus and opportunities. Today, the Villa Caproni campus is filled with nearly 300 students each semester, studying everything from engineering to business, history to classics. Even still, one has only to sit in on a few classes to gain an understanding of how its history as an arts institution has allowed Temple Rome to flourish.

Walking into the Villa Caproni campus, one is quick to notice art is not just taught in classes, but is a fundamental part of the campus. In the common space, a large painting by a former student hangs as the center piece of the room. Upstairs, the art studios and architecture room boast inspirational views of the river and surrounding neighborhood. Downstairs, brand-new sculpture studios are already covered in clay and plaster from daily use. And then there is the contemporary art studio, where gallery openings occur several times a semester. This spring, the gallery featured “Tiny Biennale”, a collection of student works in miniature. By the time the gallery doors had officially opened, a large crowd of both Italian locals and Temple students and faculty had gathered to appreciate the work together.

Art is not just for the seasoned artist though. Many students’ first opportunity to take an art class during their college career is while studying abroad. For Dr. Ana Tuck-Scala, a professor at Temple Rome for 20 years, teaching an art history class in Rome is like planting a seed in students’ minds.

“What people see in art and in art history…they can appreciate even when they are one hundred years old,” she muses as her art history class finishes a tour of the Villa Farnesina, an impressive building flanking the river and home to several works by Raphael.

As the class follows her across Trastevere and up the Janiculum over the course of the morning, she pauses occasionally to divulge local legends and point out artistic symbols incorporated in the architecture of passing buildings. Since Temple Rome began to expand their program beyond art, she has seen the demographics of her classes change from art students to those curious about what the city has to offer. Although the shift has altered her teaching style, she says it has renewed her mission to encourage students to embrace and appreciate artistic disciplines.

Expanding Disciplines

These new types of students are drawn by the many new courses Temple Rome has begun to offer. With over 70 classes each semester in a wide variety of disciplines, Temple Rome is fast becoming a campus within every student’s reach.

In 2017, the engineering program began, allowing civil and mechanical engineers to complete their sophomore spring semester in Rome while remaining on track to graduate in four years. As one of only a handful of programs offering engineering coursework abroad, Temple Rome provides an unparalleled opportunity for engineers.

Penn State civil engineering student Garrett DuPont says he never imagined studying abroad until his father encouraged him to check out the opportunities available. Faced with few other options to complete an entire semester of coursework abroad, Temple Rome was the obvious choice. “I’m glad I came here. When you think about engineering, you think about the Romans and all they did to advance engineering.”

In addition to several STEM offerings, Temple Rome has also expanded into business and media and communications, as well as a variety of liberal arts and general education courses. Looking to the future, Dean Hilary Link hopes Temple Rome will continue to foster an interdisciplinary space:

“We have the opportunity for art students to be here, but we also have the opportunity for non-arts students to be here and explore and learn. It’s that coming together that makes it so interesting because for a business student or an engineering student to experience our gallery openings, take an art history class…that kind of changes how they think about what they’re studying here as well.”

Distinguished Faculty

Creating an academic space where all types of students can converge is no easy task. Much of the work relies upon the faculty and their relationships with the students. As an established institution, Temple Rome stands apart from other American programs by drawing in faculty from Italy and other European countries while also including visiting faculty from the States.

“We’re really fortunate that we have truly top-notch scholars, researchers, teachers, people who are really embedded in the community in Rome and have connections that give access to our students [sic] to things that you would never have access to,” says Dean Hilary Link.

Throughout its history, Temple Rome has consistently pulled in world-class academics and professionals to take part in its courses. Dr. Jan Gadeyne, a professor of archaeology, classics, and art history, has appeared in two History Channel documentaries on ancient Rome and has taught for a variety of American study abroad programs for over 30 years. Professor Andrea Innamorati, an environmental studies professor, is a senior policy advisor for the Italian ministry of the Environment, Land, and Sea. Professor Nicole Winfield, who teaches journalism coursework, is the chief correspondent for the Associated Press for Rome and the Vatican. And the list goes on.

With classes typically under 20 students, Temple Rome students are able to connect directly with leading scholars and professionals in the Italian community. “Faculty and staff are very active and make sure everyone is engaged. There’s definitely a community on the Rome campus,” said Isabella Hunscher, a junior studying furniture making and craftsmanship.

Embracing the Italian Community

The connections brought by faculty have allowed Temple Rome to expand upon its walls and to send students out into the community more. One area Temple Rome hopes to strengthen is its internship program, where students can work for an Italian company or non-profit for credit during their time abroad.

Barbara Caen, the Associate Director of Temple Rome and the Director of Internships and Community Engagement, says internships are valuable because they allow students to interact with the city more.

“They are more likely to see more from Rome because they will see a real workplace…internship sponsors tend to bring our interns also to specific places…symposia, big meetings, networking events. Sometimes [interns] also find they’ll network with new people that they can get inspired by. [It’s] a great contact for the future, somebody who might give them a lead on other positions in the States.”

Temple Rome has also recently launched a new non-credit internship program for the Summer 2019 session which will provide students with a placement to work full-time, allowing for a more intense and in-depth introduction to the European workplace.

Internships are not the only way students can get out of the classroom though. Many classes include excursions where students travel with faculty members to other Italian cities to take in art, museums, and other regions. The Mechanics of Solids and Dynamics engineering classes visited the Ferrari factory in February to learn about formula-one racing. Art history classes have traveled to Naples to sample food and study Neapolitan art. Even in Rome, students have received a private tour of the Quirinale Palace, a mecca for tapestries and one of the official residences for the President of the Italian Republic. The utilization of the city and surrounding region is what truly allows students to create a more complete picture of Rome and Italy than they might get while vacationing.

Looking to the Future

Overall, the Temple University Rome campus is in the midst of an exciting time of renovations, program expansion, and new possibilities. As Dean Hilary Link will step down this summer to pursue a new position as President of Allegheny College, Temple Rome will continue to change and evolve under a new vision. One can be assured though that Temple Rome will continue to follow a vision which cherishes its history while recognizing the need for progress and new connections.