Siena Italian Studies
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Service-Learning for Democratic Culture

The inclusion of the service-learning pedagogy at Siena Italian Studies had as primary goal that of language acquisition and led to the development of EUFICCS (European use of full-immersion: culture, content and service) that was born as a European project and subsequently adopted as a teaching methodology. Stemming from this service-learning has become a privileged tool not only for the acquisition of language and culture but more extensively for the development of a culture of democracy based on RFCDC. Along these lines Siena Italian Studies has created a multi-destination experience with the goal of enhancing students’ learning process through a Full-immersion program that relies heavily on Service-Learning. Students start their journey in Siena, Italy and end it in Brussels (Belgium), the capital of Europe. The European Union represents an extremely dynamic and complicated affiliation between many different cultures. Students who choose this option will take all of their academic courses during an initial 6-week period in Siena. While in Siena, students will follow a course on the EU, its organization, Italy’s role within the EU, and issues regarding development policy within the EU and outside, a course on Intercultural Communication and studies, an elective course on International Education. After Siena, students will stay in Brussels, Belgium for a minimum of 8 weeks where they will participate in internships with NGO’s in Brussels. Language courses will be offered for both Italian as well as French because after the courses finish in Siena, students will spend the rest of the semester in Brussels, Belgium in internship positions that will give them a better perspective on how the EU operates.

As it happens for Siena Italian Studies program all service-learning courses are complemented by reflection classes that have the function to link the service activities to classes content and the overall intercultural experience. Reflection classes are being restructured and adjusted to the multi destination experience and local immersion in multicultural Brussels will be guided by a supporting seminar about key issues such as: managing diversity in the European context, stereotyping and prejudices, appreciating diversity, the value of human rights, democratic competences, intercultural skills (among others…). As it happens in Siena students’ journals will be assessed thanks to the RICA model (Reflective Intercultural Competence Assessment) which was designed by Siena Italian Studies faculty in year 2008. While in Brussels students serve in different agencies that range from EU organizations to NGOs and to cultural associations aimed at social inclusion.

Recently Siena Italian Studies teaching curriculum has been enriched by the integration of the Council of Europe’s model of competences for democratic culture that was applied to all the EUFICCS components and is leading to the updating of the RICA model. Since Siena Italian Studies in Brussels is such a young project with very small numbers so far the impact on the local community needs to be investigated.

Country: Belgium

Year: 2017-2018

Institution: Siena Italian Studies/Brussels

Person in charge: Arianna Giorgi


# of students: 6

Interaction with beneficiaries: Face-to-face

Academic Degree: Master

Discipline(s): Sociology, Political science, Anthropology

Community Service Area & ODS: Cultural Diversity, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, Gender Equality