Summer Studies in Italy: Exploring European Migration from Rome

Registration is now open for the Faculty’s Summer Studies in Italy program

This June, the Faculty of Arts will launch the McGill Summer Studies in Italy program, offering 30 undergraduate students the chance to participate in an intensive humanities and political sciences program in Rome.

The program, themed European Migration: The Italian and Global Context, is organized by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and the Department of Political Science, in collaboration with La Sapienza University. Participating students will have the unique opportunity to take one of two courses pertaining to European migration within a country that has had a pivotal impact on the development of European immigration policy. For four weeks, contemporary Italy will represent both an archive and a laboratory where students can explore an exceptional series of case studies and examples to understand the complex genealogy of our culture, society and current state of politics.

A vibrant location in the contemporary political and cultural scene, Rome is also the location of one of Italy’s top ranking universities, La Sapienza University (LSU). Situated just outside the city center, the campus is home to 111,000 students and 4000 teachers. Participating students will be part of this dynamic community and have the opportunity to connect with local students, in the classroom and during workshop activities. While both courses will be taught in English by McGill professors, LSU will provide students with the opportunity to register for credit language courses as part of their experience.

Exploring migration from a political and historical perspective

Mark R. Brawley, McGill Professor of Political Science, will teach POLI 359 – IPE: Labour Migration. As a third-year course in international political economy, this class will focus on the political and economic forces shaping international labour migration, the role such labour flows play in globalization, the impact inflows have on domestic economies, the politics labour migration can spark, and the attempts by governments to regulate labour flows. In addition to the course, each week, students will participate in a group activity related to the course material. This activity will involve students from the other summer session course, as well as students from the host institution. Rome, as he explains, is filled with rich ancestry that will have a positive impact on the overall experience for students,

“Our location gives us a couple of interesting opportunities to exploit; Rome is amazing. It combines ancient treasures such as the Forum and the Colosseum with splendours of the Renaissance, and of course is a modern vibrant city. By teaming with La Sapienza, we will be able to interact with local students and faculty. It should be an extraordinary adventure for our students.”

Torrance Kirby, Professor of Ecclesiastical History, is teaching LLCU 301/RELG 321/HIST 320: Migration in Roman History and Literature: Homelessness & Homecoming in Roman Culture. Through the study of historical and literary texts, this course will explore the theme of migration in the context of ancient Rome. Students will examine an account of the Ius migrandi in the legendary foundation of the city by Titus Livy in his History of Rome (27 BCE), the mythical narrative of the Trojan migration to Italy in Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid (19 BCE), and more,

“Everywhere we look migration is presented as a new force threatening to disrupt the delicate balance of civilisation. In fact, the mass movement of people across the globe is a constant force that has shaped human history. My course will explore the theme of migration in the literature and historiography of ancient Rome with readings from Livy, Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, Plutarch, and Aurelius Augustine.”

More on La Sapienza University

Established in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, La Sapienza is one of the first universities established in Europe. Organized into 11 faculties and 63 departments, it also has 55 libraries and 20 world-renowned museums, further enhancing the overall student experience. In 2018, La Sapienza’ Classics and Ancient History program was ranked first in the world by the QS World University Rankings. The report equally places the university at the forefront of Italian universities for quality of research and teaching, and for its international dimension.

Room and board will be available in a student residence on campus. Tutoring and mentoring services are also available, as is access to all main facilities including the libraries and museums. A number of workshops, meetings and interactive activities will take place at local associations or political and cultural institutions, where students can discuss the course topics with leading political, social and cultural figures. On days off, students can explore the many historical ruins and museums, indulge in some fresh local cuisine, and discover Rome’s thriving music scene.

Program registration is currently open and the deadline to apply is March 1. For more information on the program, attend an information session or visit

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