Urbino, Italy 2013

Spend a month improving your journalistic and photographic skills while living in a beautiful Renaissance town nestled in the hills of central Italy.

The Program: June 6 – July 4, 2013

Join a team of media professionals creating a web site and print magazine about the town of Urbino, Italy, and get a taste of being a foreign correspondent. You’ll earn 3 elective  journalism credits as JlMC 390.

The Urbino Project is about telling stories. This class is your passport to explore a picturesque area of Italy in search of  interesting people and situations that you can report on.  All students will report, write, shoot photos and video and post their stories to the class website. Although every student will work on developing a full range of storytelling techniques you will have the opportunity to focus on a set of skills that are either print or web oriented.

Italy mapStudents  will work on skills critical for successful journalism, including the basics of finding and reporting compelling stories with words and images. Students will be coached by a Pulitzer Prize-winning staff in writing and photography as well as online video. They will learn how to navigate as professional journalists in a foreign culture by working with interpreters and crafting ready-to-publish features and news stories. Students will also study “survival” Italian and learn about the history and culture of the region.

The city

Urbino streetUrbino is a picturesque Renaissance hill town and the cultural gem of the Marche region of central Italy. Although Urbino was a Roman and medieval city, its peak came during the 15th century when Duke Federico da Montefeltro established one of Europe’s most illustrious courts. Its impressive Ducal Palace houses one of the most important collections of Renaissance paintings in Italy. Urbino’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is very much alive with the daily activities of the citizens as they pick up groceries at a neighborhood shop or stroll in the evening with a gelato in hand.

Like Ames, Urbino is a college town. During the academic year the 20,000 students outnumber the full-time residents, which number approximately 16,000. Although the municipality is spread out over an area twice the size of Ames most of the town’s amenities are concentrated in, or just outside the city center and easily accessible by foot or city bus.

Climbing the city streets

Google Earth has excellent Street Viewcoverage of Urbino. Check it out and you won’t be able to wait to board the plane to Italy but don’t forget to pack shoes that are good for climbing the hilly streets that make up the town. (In the first week you will discover muscles in your legs that you didn’t know existed.)

The University

The University of Urbino  was founded in 1506, and currently has about 16,000 students, many of whom are from overseas. The university has no central campus as such, and instead occupies numerous buildings throughout the town and in the surrounding countryside.

Travel opportunities

Colosseum in Rome Students will have two (the second and third) three-day weekends (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) free to explore the city, or to travel within Italy. Florence, Rome, Bologna and Venice are accessible by bus and train; regional buses from Urbino serve many charming, small towns in the region.  The four weeks tend to pass very quickly and the three-day weekends even more so. It is important that those who want to tour extensively should plan travel time before or after the program.

The Course

Students will register for JlMC 390. This will count toward graduation as a journalism elective. The Urbino Project is a program that was started by ieiMedia and in the past was associated with San Francisco State University. The program is run by iei Media and Greenlee professor Dennis Chamberlin is the director of the project.  Iowa State University is  the institution that issues academic credit as JlMC 390k (3 credits).

The Students

Although the program credit is offered through Iowa State University the course is open to up to 30 English-speaking college students and recent graduates from any school. In the past students from many universities — including the University of Maryland, the University of Wisconsin-Madison,  Arizona State University, Gonzaga University,  Loyola College, San Jose State University, San Diego State University,  and Baylor University — have participated in past ieiMedia programs. We’ve also had students from China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Thailand and Trinidad.

Evening in the piazza

Although most of our past students have been journalism or communications majors the course is open to anyone with an interest in photography, reporting and storytelling.  Past students have included music majors, design students and those with a general interest in foreign cultures. Non-journalism majors should have a strong interest in reporting, photography or some experience working for a college or professional publication.

2011 Group Photo

The Faculty

The 2013 faculty includes:

* Dennis Chamberlin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who teaches at Iowa State University and spent much of his career as a photojournalist in Poland working for such publications as National Geographic, Time, Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine.

* Bob Marshall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who has spent much of his career chronicling the people, stories and issues of Louisiana’s wetlands culture.

* Steven D. Anderson, is a professor and director of the James Madison University School of Media Arts & Design. He has received numerous national awards for his multimedia and video work. Prior to entering academe he was an environmental reporter at KCNC in Denver.

* Francesca Carducci, (Italian Language/Interpreter Supervisor) teaches English and is a lecturer (CEL) in the Department of Modern Literature and Philological-Linguistic Sciences at the University of Urbino. She is originally from Buffalo, New York, and has lived and worked in Urbino for over 20 years. She will teach Italian language and supervise interpreters.

* Paweł Wyszomirski (Photography) is a freelance photographer from Gdańsk, Poland, and co-founder of the photo community Testigo, a collective of photographers and videographers focusing on visual journalism. Over the past few years he has coordinated and taught at several photography workshops and courses for students from Poland, the United States and Scandinavia. Paweł  currently teaches photojournalism and documentary photography at the Sopot School of Photography.

*Michael Gold, cofounder of Health, former editor of Strings, book author and consultant who helped launch Dwell magazine and other prominent publications and websites.

*Susan West, founding editor in chief of Afar, former executive editor of Smithsonian, and consultant who has advised magazines and websites from Cooking Light to WebMD.



View from dorm

Students will live in an architectural award-winning University of Urbino dorm on a hillside overlooking the countryside.  Three meals a day will be provided in the student cafeteria. Compared to dorm food in America, the food in Urbino will be more like home-style cooking. The main meal of the day is at midday and supper tends to be a bit lighter (but not much.) Sheets and towels will be provided. Students will share a room with one other student and will have access to communal bathrooms. All rooms and common areas have free wi-fi.


Students are expected to bring a laptop computer and digital camera. You are encouraged to bring some kind of device — a camera, phone or iPod — that can record digital video and audio. Some cameras and computers will be provided for those who don’t bring them.

Italian instruction

Students will have daily instruction in “survival” Italian. When reporting you will work with University of Urbino students, who will act as interpreters.

Visit to winery

Program costs

The cost is $4,995 plus airfare. The price includes tuition, registration fees, housing and most meals, instruction, basic travel insurance, some special programs and activities.

Financial aid

The university offers scholarship opportunities for students who study abroad. The ISU Study Abroad center can provide more information about some of these opportunities. Resources to begin with are found here: http://www.studyabroad.iastate.edu/Financing/Finance.html

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers scholarships, up to $1000, that several students have received in the past. The deadline for scholarships is March 1. http://www.las.iastate.edu/international/scholarships.shtml

If you are a journalism major you should contact the Greenlee School and ask about the $1000 available as a Dale and Kelly Renner Journalism Study Abroad Scholarship.


June 6 – July 4, 2013

Application process

Applications are available on this website until February 1.  Students must fill out the online application and submit one letter of recommendation, along with a $500 deposit. Deposits will be refunded only if a student is not accepted into the program.

You should also contact professor Dennis Chamberlin at dennisch@iastate.edu  Chamberlin is available to answer any questions that you might have.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through Feb. 1, 2013. Students are encouraged to apply early since the program may fill quickly. Applications will be considered after Feb. 1 if spots are available.

Iowa State University


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