An Excerpt from Insights – Art, Literature, Medicine, Science: Our Transdisciplinary Approach

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. Today’s excerpt, written by both Alison Essary of Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions and Mark Lussier of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, comes from our May 2018 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

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An Excerpt from Insights: Searching for the Sea in Pisa

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. Today’s excerpt comes from our March 2018 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

How is it that Pisa came to be a flourishing Maritime Republic and a leading commercial and military power in the Mediterranean during the High Middle Ages, given that the sea is nowhere in sight? In Venice, Genoa, Amalfi and other medieval Italian maritime republics, the sea is visible and its role evident, but what about Pisa, a city nowadays known mostly for its leaning tower, baptistery, and cathedral? Continue reading

An Excerpt from Insights: Elbow-to-Elbow with Industry Leaders at MediaCityUK

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. Today’s excerpt comes from our January 2018 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

In early October, students from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism spent four days in Manchester and MediaCityUK in nearby Salford as part of a practicum course designed to introduce communications and media industries in the UK. The custom course provides close contact with industry professionals, ideally timed as the third-year students prepare for graduation and their first job search. Continue reading

An Excerpt from Insights – Constructing the Other: Migration in Italian Media

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. Today’s excerpt comes from our May 2017 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

Students in the inaugural Rome semester for the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism recently joined professor Lorenzo Rinelli for an on-site class in the Esquilino neighborhood, or as Rinelli described, “the only truly trans-ethnic place you will find in Rome.”

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An Excerpt from Insights: Internship – Réseau Sentinelles in Paris

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. Today’s excerpt comes from our November 2016 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

Nargis Aslami studies Economics at the University of California, Merced and intentionally chose the Spring Quarter in London and Paris to add international internship experience to her résumé and explore course topics unrelated to her major. “I wanted to dip my toes in a different field and see what that was like,” she recalls. While she may have charted unknown waters, Nargis is right on course.Nargis-e1479121835468 Continue reading

An Excerpt from Insights: Designing Change in Florence

Florence_-_Graffiti_-_DanteThe Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. Today’s excerpt comes from our November 2016 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

Over the years, countless groups of US undergrads have flocked to Florence to study Art and Art History – and what better place to do it? Loyola Marymount University Design professor Saeri Cho Dobson chose a different approach, however. Against Florence’s rich cultural patrimony and in the shadows of Renaissance masters, Dobson challenged students to view the impact of contemporary art and design through a social justice lens. In Florence, a city defined by its artistic past, students from Los Angeles looked toward the future.

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An Excerpt from Insights: Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris and the nearby suburb of Saint-Denis, which resulted in the deaths of 130 people. In the wake of international turmoil caused by events such as these, questions of national identity emerge: who are we, and who do we want to become?

ACCENT is dedicated to the broadening of hearts and minds, to the importance of looking beyond ourselves, and appreciating our vast and ever-changing world. It is easy to withdraw into ourselves when we are hurt and afraid, but it is true courage to reach out to others and work together to rebuild.

In our May 2016 edition of ACCENT’s Insights Newsletter, Paris Center Director Melissa Smith-Simonet published the following response to the attacks, detailing what ACCENT is doing to help students combat fear and better understand the vibrant and diverse city that heroically emerged from the rubble and refused to sink under terror.

fnm-1024x683Fluctuat Nec Mergitur – Tossed but Not Sunk – is the motto of the city of Paris and has appeared on the city’s coat of arms for centuries. These three Latin words have never been truer than in the weeks and months since the events of November 13. Continue reading

An Excerpt from Insights: Internship – Rome Reports News Agency


The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. This excerpt comes from our May 2016 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

When Zach Styx, journalism major from the University of Minnesota, secured an internship with Rome Reports news agency, he hardly imagined that he would soon be reporting on-camera from St. Peter’s Square, conducting interviews with passing bishops and cardinals.

Zack chose Rome for his semester abroad because he wanted to go somewhere that would take him out of his comfort zone and challenge him linguistically. “I had decent Spanish but zero Italian when I arrived,” Zack recalls. He admits to disliking Italy for his first two weeks, but now back in Minneapolis, has only positive memories of his time in Rome and his internship was the highlight.

“My internship was the most important part of my study abroad experience,” says Zack. Rome Reports is a Vatican-based news agency, which produces video reports to sell to other large news agencies.

Zack recalls his first day: “My mentor Adam said that he was going to throw me into the water and see if I could swim. He said that I could get as much out of this internship as I put in. This meant that from the first day I had to be entrepreneurial. I began by researching, translating and editing copy, and then moved onto more hands-on work with the broadcast crew. I always showed up early and I enjoyed it so much it didn’t feel like work to me.”

Soon Zack was given his own camera and sound crew and sent out to do reports and interviews in St. Peter’s Square and beyond. One of his favorite memories is covering an event between the Japanese Embassy and the Vatican Pontifical Council for Culture. It was a Japanese flute concert in the seventh century church of San Giorgio al Velabro and he was given sole responsibility for reporting on the event.

“I was also lucky,” recalls Zack, “that the Pope was very active during the time I was reporting on the Vatican, with his trips away including the one to Africa, and the Vatileaks scandal came out too.”

Zack graduates this month and plans to join the Air Force. For now, his journalistic ambitions are on hold, but he hopes to be able to connect his two passions in the future.

An Excerpt from Insights: An Italian Take on Crime & Deviance

Addiopizzo1The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programs with ACCENT. This excerpt comes from our May 2016 edition. For more Insights, visit our newsletter at:

Professor Marco Bracci’s Sociology of Crime course is prompting University of Minnesota students in Florence to study the relationship between crime, culture, and media, focusing on the mafia and some high-profile criminal cases in central Italy, such as the Amanda Knox trial.

The course deals with the most relevant sociological theories on crime as a particular form of deviance, aiming to apply different theoretical perspectives to the study of the relationship between crime and culture in contemporary societies. It is designed to take full advantage of the students’ experience abroad and focuses on Florentine and Italian contexts.

In April, Bracci’s students departed for a Sicily study tour. While there, they met with representatives of Addiopizzo, an NGO fighting the tradition of businesses paying a pizzo or bribe to the local mafia boss simply to be allowed to remain open for trade. The group met with Addiopizzo representative Francesco Fiumara, a lawyer and activist who explained the challenges the organization faces in Sicily, and the organization’s aims which include education, racket prevention, and solidarity. Addiopizzo provides legal support to those brave enough to denounce the extortion, and helps them cope with the consequences, which range from menacing behavior to an escalation of threats and violence.


“I found all of this extremely interesting. It was a very different look at the Mafia and who they actually are…we are used to the movies, like the Godfather,” one student reflected. “Prior to our trip to Taormina, I was already aware of the Mafia, but only in a general capacity. I may have known that different mafia groups impact the economy in their towns, but I did not know the specifics on how exactly they accomplished this.”

Back in Florence, the course continued with a look at the representation of crime in the Italian popular music culture, as well as the violence in and around sport that continues to plague Italian soccer stadiums and beyond.

For more information on how ACCENT students learn about local efforts to combat Mafia influence, see our ACCENT Blog post, “A Visit to ARCI with UC’s ‘History and Culture of Food’ Class.”

An Excerpt from Insights – Global Markets in London

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programing with ACCENT. This excerpt comes from our May 2015. For more Insights, visit our newsletter archives at:

It takes a motivated student to be out of bed and on-site for class by six in the morning, but for the University of California students who rose to the occasion, a visit to Billingsgate Fish Market in East London proved a fascinating addition to Dr. Peter Jones’ course, Tales from the Migrant Metropolis, 1860 – 2009. Much to the students’ surprise, a visit to the United Kingdom’s largest inland fish market tied in perfectly.

The course explores migration and mobility as a means of decoding the experience of London in the modern era. In close readings of the urban novel, students connect with unsettled, restless, and dislocated voices as they speak about identity in a city characterized by its migrant histories.

The students were led through the market by a marine biologist and former fishmonger with more than fifty years’ experience at Billingsgate. The tour began with the history of the market, before moving to the trading floor to come face-to-face with the fish, familiar and exotic.

The guides gave an extensive history of the impact of migration on the consumption of fish in Britain, as well as information on endangered species, pricing, regulation, and even some cooking tips. On the morning of the visit, fish prices had spiked overnight due to a storm off the south coast of England that had kept the boats in the harbor.

What most interested the group, however, was the visual representation of multicultural British society, and East London in particular. Students toured stalls specializing in salt cod for the West Indian market and a Sri Lankan trader explained his struggles with EU import regulations.

The students had been reading about markets in 19th century London and during the visit learned that even with today’s heightened regulations, Billingsgate still operates as it did in 1850 when the doors first opened on its newly constructed building on Lower Thames Street.

At the end of the tour, students joined their guides for a traditional British breakfast of kedgeree, a spicy rice dish with smoked haddock. This was the market’s first visit from a university group, but it certainly will not be the last from ACCENT.

An Excerpt from Insights – There and Back Again: Working with Men in Study Abroad

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programing with ACCENT. This excerpt comes from our May 2015 issue and was written by Michigan State University’s James M. Lucas, Ph.D. For more Insights, visit our newsletter archives at:

MSUM1As a man working in higher education, I have followed the scholarship of male engagement for many years. Male students participate in study abroad at about half the rate as females, and this gap exists in other areas: men are less likely to attend and graduate from college; participate in service, hold leadership positions, and belong to a living-learning program. Conversely, men are more likely to dropout, not attend class, and get into trouble with the university’s conduct system.

My dissertation explored male study abroad participation and suggested that gender role norms play a role in how young men perceive study abroad. Many males view study abroad as frivolous and not as important as part-time work or an internship. Since completing my research, I have tried to connect my findings to practice both as an administrator and program leader. During an effort to reach out to the fraternity community, I found an eager group of young partners in Michigan State University’s (MSU) Chapter of Sigma Epsilon Phi (SigEp). Not only did these students want to discuss study abroad, but they wanted to create a program for fraternity men at the university.

For the pilot program, I worked with the students to design the course outline, and with ACCENT to organize the travel component during the MSU spring break. Prior to and post-travel, the students attended class and discussed the concept of gender, different opinions about gender differences, gender role conflict, and the influence of gender on males in college, with a comparative perspective to Italy. This program also focused on leadership, connecting this topic with the fraternal context – both historically and in the present.MSUM2

The collaboration between MSU, SigEp, and ACCENT represented the first for-credit study program that was co-created with undergraduate students at MSU. The program would never have occurred without the buy-in and support from a group of fraternity men willing to champion the effort. Similarly, the ACCENT Rome and Florence teams helped find guest lecturers and tours able to connect our unique topic to the fabric of these cities. The local faculty proved to be wonderful partners. They adapted their scholarship to the theme of gender, and put a lot of effort into making topics like Renaissance art and Roman archeology engaging for a group that was mostly business and engineering students.

Since our return, the students have reported seeing the world differently, having realized that not everyone thinks, acts, and lives like them. They speak of a newfound understanding that even small everyday things, such as a statue or the straightness of a road, have meaning. They have made connections between history and modern culture, noting how the past can influence who we are as a people. The excitement from this learning has come back to campus, and I can only describe our classes post-travel as “transformed” in terms of their interaction and engagement.

My colleagues thought I was a bit crazy for taking this group overseas. Many would say that there would be too many disciplinary problems, or even question why men would need a men’s studies course. My answer is that this group needs the experience. As educators, we too often assume that men’s social entitlements mean that they do not have special needs. They do. Men need to be thought of as gendered, and they need help understanding their gendered lives and their privileges. Only by educating them can we get them to own their entitlements and help build societies that are socially just.

An Excerpt from Insights – ACCENT on Internships

The Insights newsletter highlights innovative programing with ACCENT. Our November 2014 issue focused on recent programs and student experiences in London and Rome. The excerpts from Insights below are a part of the newsletter’s focus on student internships abroad. The next Insights newsletter will be available in May 2015 and will highlight custom programming across all six ACCENT cities. For more Insights, visit our newsletter archives at:

The Cherie Blair Foundation

Andrea Gonzalez is no stranger to hard work, having held various jobs to support herself and her family throughout high school and college. However, before her internship in London she had never worked directly in her academic field. She was particularly aware of that gap in her resume before studying abroad, since the quarter in London would be her last at UC Riverside before graduation.

Andrea interned fulltime for six weeks at the Cherie Blair Foundation. The internship under the mentorship of communication director Jillian Convey was an ideal marriage of Andrea’s English major and Women’s Studies minor, her true passion. “It was amazing to see it all come together in such a neat package,” reflects Andrea, noting that her peers had the same feeling: “We were all over London doing very different things, but everyone felt so rightly placed and came home each day with a story.”

The Foundation operates mentorship programs for female entrepreneurs in developing and emerging countries across the globe. Andrea worked in communication, writing copy for web and print, and speechwriting in preparation for Cherie Blair’s speech at the Cambridge Wireless Conference in late June, where she highlighted the importance of wireless technology in empowering women around the world.

“Jillian was a great teacher and mentor, giving valuable feedback on my writing to ensure that we were heard and that the message was clear and concise,” said Andrea. “Everyone was very supportive of each other. The different program leaders were always willing to answer questions or have a tea.”

Andrea is still in touch with her mentor and others from the Cherie Blair Foundation. She recently accepted a position as an Autism Behavioral Therapist in California, but hopes to prepare for the GRE and apply for a graduate degree in Gender Studies in the UK.

Cherie Blair colleagues share their thanks with Andrea for her hard work during the internship.

Movimento Cinque Stelle

Miranda Slaght was surprised to find her hand raised to correct her political science professor after only a few weeks in Rome. He had made, in her opinion, a generalization about Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5), Italy’s radically new political movement. Taken aback, the professor asked Miranda where she got her information. “I work for them,” she said.

Today, Miranda is a senior at the University of Minnesota, finishing a degree in History and Political Science and preparing for the LSAT. Last spring, she was M5’s first non- Italian student intern, writing English language copy for the party’s website and social media channels.

On her first day, after observing a live debate at the Italian Senate, Miranda’s internship mentor Alessandro Canali walked her to the M5 headquarters and asked her to write an article introducing the movement to an English-speaking audience. “I thought to myself, ‘I have no idea.’ I’m a History major, so I write a lot of papers, but my first article at M5 made me realize exactly how little I knew about the movement.

Though overwhelming, that article was the perfect first assignment, serving as a crash course on M5 and introducing Miranda to the entire team. “I went from office to office asking people questions about the movement and their roles.” She remembers Canali’s comment after reading the first draft: “You left out a lot.”

And while she admits that Italy seems like less of a “perfect paradise” after working inside the political system, she is glad for the experience: “It was eye-opening to learn about Italy’s problems and political issues. The internship helped me understand Italy and Italians much more than my peers.”

Miranda plans to write about the experience in her law school essay: “With so many people studying abroad, if you don’t have skills to show from it, it is not worthwhile.”