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  September 11, 2000

New Italian Studies Program to be
Offered Through History Department

The Board of Trustees last month approved a proposal to establish a master's degree program in international studies with a concentration in Italian studies - the first graduate-level program in the country to operate an Italian studies program based in a university's history department.

Housed under the auspices of the Emiliana Pasca Noether Chair in Modern Italian History, the program will feature three tracks, an interdisciplinary curriculum, and a distance education component that will provide access to the courses from the regional campuses and allow interested citizens, in Connecticut and across the country to subscribe to

single courses taught through the Internet and at a website.

Tracks also will be available to students seeking a doctorate in Italian history and to those interested in a master's degree in the subject.

Chancellor John Petersen says that although a number of universities, including Yale University, offer graduate degrees in Italian studies through their art or modern language departments, "nowhere does history rank as more than an ancillary subject in these programs, nor is any of them based in a department of history. UConn thus has an opportunity to fill a neglected niche and to offer a program that is unique in design and focus and that builds upon an area of recognized excellence within the University."

It also is particularly appropriate for the state of Connecticut, which has a substantial population with an Italian cultural heritage, Petersen adds.

Students in the pre-doctoral track will be required to write a master's thesis, supervised by faculty from two departments, and complete a class load that includes courses in at least three disciplines. They will be required to take courses in Italian history and language, and a one-credit colloquium surveying recent studies that apply critical theory and innovative methodologies to the study of Italy. Students in the terminal master's degree program are not required to write a thesis, but must complete eight courses with the program's focus within two years.

Students and non-students alike interested in learning more about Italy but not seeking a degree, may enroll in any of the about a dozen courses related to the studies, either in person or through distance education.

Petersen says the distance education portion of the program will serve as a test model for other outreach programs expected to be added in the future. Plans call for the Italian studies courses to be offered through interactive videoconferencing in classrooms at the University's regional campuses, and during three extended Saturday sessions to be held in Storrs or at the regional campuses.

Distance education technologies employed will include videocassettes of lecture series, scheduled virtual classes on the Internet, use of the extensive resources on the ITALICA website, and electronic mail discussions with faculty. Officials believe the combination of virtual and traditional classroom meetings will allow the courses to succeed without sacrificing the direct motivational and pedagogical benefits that learning on campus provides.

Classes are expected to begin next fall.

Richard Veilleux