Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School

Now in its 13th year of the programme, the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School is a unique, unprecedented joint partnershp between two universities passionate about providing students with an international education of excellence. The programme is interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary, offering courses taught by professors from both Ca' Foscari and Harvard to 120 students rigorously selected from both institutions.

In addition to providing a stimulating and challenging intercultural study environment over the summer, the CFHSS also gives its participants the opportunity to take part in extra-curricular activities in various locations around Venice and its surroundings, allowing students and professors alike to learn, interact, adventure and grow alongside their peers/colleagues from across the Atlantic.

Students enrol in two classes from a range of courses in Social Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Math, and the Humanities, and credits (6 ECTS per course) are recognised at both Universities.

Winner of the CFHSS Creative Experience Competition, 2016


Orientation: June 18 - 24
Regular courses: June 25 - August 8


Regular Courses


International Business Law

Fabrizio Marrella

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
In today's global village, business decisions are no longer local. Even the smallest company may engage in transactions that have international legal implications. As the world gets smaller the ability to access foreign markets grows ever wider. Companies may seek new sources of supply overseas, sales may cross national borders to customers located abroad, joint ventures and other forms of direct investment in a foreign country abound. Resolving disputes arising from such operations may lead to multistate litigation and/or to arbitration. Many legal systems may become relevant in arbitration including transnational principles (such as the Unidroit Principles) or the Lex mercatoria, expressions of the on-going process of formation of a global law for international commercial contracts. This course is designed to introduce students to the problems affecting cross-border transactions from a legal standpoint. International Private and Public Law aspects of business transactions will be examined. We will examine the legal framework of international commerce pointing out the potential constraints posed by multiple sources of law, cultures, ideologies, currencies, and government policies to effective international business negotiations.

Prerequisites: none

Labor Market Discrimination

Matija Kovacic

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
Gender equality is not only about economic empowerment and efficiency. It is a moral imperative, it is about fairness and equity, and includes many political, social and cultural dimensions. There is an urgent need to focus on the economic case and on how changes in the labor market might provide better economic opportunities for both men and women, and guarantee the medium/longrun sustainability of economic systems. In this course we will learn and use the tools of microeconomic analysis to understand how economists model women's economic decision‐making, and to gain insight into how microeconomic theory can explain some of the changes faced by women. The course will be comprised of lectures and student‐led discussions.

Prerequisites: Basic principles and notions of economics (Econ S-10ab or equivalent for Harvard students; Economia Politica or Politica Economica for Ca' Foscari students).

Redeeming Keynes

Steve Marglin

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
This course explores the birth, death, and resurrection of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money from the Great Depression (1929-1939) to the Great Recession (2008-?). A major goal is to lay out a coherent argument that, for all its theoretical innovation, The General Theory did not deliver: the argument why a market system, even an idealized system with all of the warts removed, may fail to provide jobs for willing workers. In the process we will examine the orthodoxy that Keynes attacked and that resurfaced in the 1960s and '70s; the key concepts underlying the models implicit in The General Theory; and the attempts of the "Keynesian" mainstream to make peace with both Keynes and orthodoxy. We will also explore the applicability of The General Theory to the long run. A final section will view the present economic difficulties through a Keynesian lens.

Prerequisites: introductory economics (at the level of Economics 10 or US & W 17 for Harvard students; for Ca' Foscari students a good command of Economia Politica (Principles of Economics), Politica Economica (Economic policy)); a year of college calculus allowing students to understand mathematical notation and concepts (derivatives, maximization, etc) even though mathematics will be used very sparingly.


Math 1b

Robin Gottlieb / Brendan Kelly

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
The language of mathematics has evolved over time, but Galileo's famous statement that, "the book of the universe is written in the language of mathematics," is as true today as it was then. In this course, students deepen their foundation in modern mathematics and learn more about mathematical applications in other disciplines. The course focuses on three related topics which together form a central part of the language of modern science: applications and methods of integration, infinite series and the representation of functions by power series, and differential equations, with an emphasis on modeling and qualitative analysis. The material introduced in this course has applications in physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, astronomy, economics, and statistics. NB: This course will be held over 8 weeks.

Prerequisites: Students are expected to be familiar with trigonometry, inverse trig, exponentials, and logarithms, and have a basic understanding of elementary calculus, including the notion of a derivative, differentiation using the product, quotient, and chain rules, and definite and indefinite integrals.

NB: Successful Ca' Foscari applicants will have the possibility of participating in a brief trigonometry refresh course prior to the beginning of the programme. More information available soon.

Environmental Science

The Earth's Climate: past, present and future

Carlo Barbante

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
This course deals with past present and future climate changes as evinced from the most recent studies on palaeoclimate archives, such as marine sediments and ice cores. The techniques available for the study of climate will be carefully reviewed and the most recent results will be presented. Climate changes involve multiple interactions among different components of the climate system, such as the atmosphere, the ocean, the earth, the biosphere and the ice sheet. One way to make sense of this complex system is to understand the inherent rate at which each of its components respond both to the primary causes of climate change and as part of a web of interactions within the system. Testing of hypothesis by means of climate models strongly supports the experimental data presented in the course.

Prerequisites: none


American Literary Expatriates in Europe

Glenda Carpio

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description 
This course explores the fiction and travel literature produced by American writers living in Europe, from Henry James to the present. In the course of this period the relationship between old to new world continuously evolves. While Europe becomes the battlefield for two bloody World Wars as well as a museum of the past, the United States assumes a dominant role on the world stage. At the same time, America also betrays key fundamental ideals as it seeks to extend its sphere of influence. American writers living and traveling in Europe reflect on these shifts and changes while also exploring the complex set of contradictions that expatriate life reveals. For African American writers, for instance, Europe represents both a site of liberation from the oppression of American color codes and also an area of the world where they are often exoticized. We focus on American literature set in Europe with readings that include but are not limited to essays, travelogues, poems, novellas, novels, and short stories. 

Prerequisites: none

Private and Public in Venice, in the Renaissance and Beyond

Martina Frank & Myriam Pilutti Namer

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
The interaction between private and public life in Renaissance Venice has been discussed recently in the brilliant monograph of Patricia Fortini Brown (2004). Venetian nobles were remarkable commissioners of works of art and architecture as well as of literature and music. Venetian patricians were also cultured collectors of antiquities and even owners of villas and gardens on the mainland (in the Terraferma). At the same time many of them were distinguished politicians, able to rule the state with wisdom and ability in order to guarantee social peace and the independence of the Serenissima Republic from other European powers. Their private life was performed in a universe of palazzi (buildings), ville (villas) and giardini (gardens), while their public role was practiced both in the Ducal Palace and the basilica of the piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s square), and in the scuole (charitable organizations). The first part of the course will focus on these aspects through the analysis of selected topics, while the second part of the course will focus on a number of meaningful locations where, during the Renaissance and beyond, the boundaries of public and private sphere overlapped and blended.

Prerequisites: none

The Ethics of Identity

Jay Harris

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description 
Personal identity is, to say the least,a slippery concept. Yet insofar it constitutes whoand what we are—whether it is explicitly acknowledged or not—identity has deep ethical and political implications, and “identity politics” is one of the most significant contemporary dimensions in political and social thought. This class, which is structured around Anthony Appiah’s 2005 book The Ethics of Identity, delves into the ethical, social, and political questions around identity. Each section of the book will be complemented by readings that put the issue in a larger context.These textsinclude a few of the foundational philosophical works for contemporary debates around identity, contemporary philosophical analyses of the underlying issues, and critiques of the discussion of identity as understood by philosophers like Appiah. The purpose of the course is not to try to answer the questions, but to have a rich and open discussion of the issues, and help shapea richer and more nuanced private and public deliberation on identity and ethics beyond the classroom.

Prerequisites: none

Venetian Art and the Bible

Gordon Teskey

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
William Blake called the Bible “the great code of art.” Nowhere was this statement truer than in the famous Italian centers of art, Rome, Florence, and Venice. But the biblical culture of Venice was special because of her rich contacts with the East: with Islam, with the Greek culture of the Eastern Mediterranean,and with the Holy Land itself.  The great cathedral of Venice, Saint Mark’s, is named for the city’s patron, who wrote the oldest and most venerable of the Christian gospels. The Bible provided the artists of Venice with a rich fund of subjects for painting and sculpture. This course proposes to give students an outline of the contents and structure of the Bible similar to what most people in Venice would have had during the period when its greatest art was produced. The aim is for students to be able to look at a work of Venetian art and “read” not only its biblical subject but also its biblical thinking, especially the subterranean connections between episodes.We will also consider how extra-biblical subjects—e.g., saints’ legends and episodes from the apocrypha—are themselves extensions of biblical reading. Meeting times will be about equally divided between classroom discussion and field trips to sites around Venice. Among the more important of these are Saint Mark’s cathedral, the Doge Palace, the Basilica dei Frari, the Scuola di San Rocco (with its amazing Tintorettos), the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the Basilica della Salute (with Titian’s biblical paintings in the sacristry), and the Accademia gallery, with its great hall containing Veronese’s gigantic and exuberant “Feast in the House of Levi” and Titian’s large but intimate“Pietà,” with its subtle biblical meanings adopted to personal expression. The course’s final class will conclude in this room, in front of these contrasting visions of the meaning of life, seen through the lens of the Bible.

Prerequisites: none


Joyce E. Chaplin

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description 
It may seem that questions about human responsibility toward the natural world are new, but there are long-standing traditions within Western philosophy of arguing for ethical behavior in relation to nature, whether to benefit humans or to help non-humans. This course offers a critical and historical analysis of selected texts that identify human beings as a distinctively ethical species within the natural world, with particular attention to the emergence of normative theories that rank humans with and against other natural beings. Topics include: definitions of wilderness and property; agriculture, industrialization, and consumerism as historic transformations of humanity; social hierarchies based on perceived natural abilities; ideas of natural rights; conservation and environmentalism; and animal rights. Readings include Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Rousseau, Bentham, Malthus, Mill, Emerson, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Singer. We also examine how contemporary debates over the human place within nature have continued to cite and critique normative traditions defined in the past.

Prerequisites: none

Shakespeare's Venice: Jews, Blacks, Muslims, and Christians at the Origin of the Modern World

Shaul Bassi & Stephen Greenblatt (guest lecturer)

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description 
A great early modern metropolis and a richly symbolic landscape, Venice is the setting of two seminal plays by Shakespeare, a comedy and a tragedy. The Merchant of Venice and Othello have made the Jewish moneylender Shylock and the Moor Othello the emblematic ethnic and cultural outsiders, figures who both foreshadow and challenge the modern notion of a multicultural community. This course will analyze the Shakespearean texts, read their principal sources, and chart their controversial critical and theatrical histories.  We will examine the rich cultural and literary material that informs the plays, including the representations of African, Jews and Muslims;, and their multiple resonances in different times and places, including modern adaptations in fiction and film. Our presence in Venice will be crucial to our understanding:  we will explore why the setting for these plays had to be here and not elsewhere, and we will visit Venetian sites that illuminate the Biblical, classical, and ethnographic contexts that forged Shakespeare’s notions of cultural and religious difference. 

Prerequisites: none, but a background in Shakespeare is highly advisable.

Venice and the Classical Past

Lorenzo Calvelli

Classroom & Schedule: TBC

Course description
Venice is probably the largest city in Italy that did not grow on top of a classical settlement. Venetians often supported the idea that their hometown was born from the ashes of the Roman Empire, thus remarking their political independence since the earliest stages of their history. At the same time, however, numerous objects dating to the Classical period, including both artworks and simple building materials, can be found in Venice and in the main islands of the lagoon. The course intends to explore the shifting relationship that Venice had with the Greco-Roman world, investigating in particular how classical antiquities were used and re-used in Venice itself, in the islands of the lagoon, and in the Venetian maritime empire.

Prerequisites: none; an essential understanding of Latin would be useful, but the language basics necessary to reach course requirements will be covered in class.

A mandatory Orientation session will be held on June 18 so as to provide students with the necessary information for the duration of the programme: course schedules, course materials, orientation around Venice and residence information for Harvard students, activity lists, important events, etc.

During the first week students can participate in a variety of activities aimed at helping get to know each other. Additional activities and events are planned throughout the programme, and again in the final week. Possible activities for 2018 are: Vicenza and the Teatro Olimpico, Voga alla Veneta, Venetian gardens, Silkscreen painting, Biennale d'architettura, Aquileia & Grado, Carlo Scarpa and Venice, Dragonboating, Theatre workshop, Bassano del Grappa and Mt. Grappa....and more!

Programme acceptance and enrolment

Enrolment is not complete unless the International Summer Schools office has received the following by Wednesday May 2nd, 2018:

  1. Online acceptance form
  2. Receipt of payment
  3. Credit recognition request (.pdf file attached, and see below)
  4. Harvard Summer School enrolment form (see updated "Accepatance procedures")

Admitted students must also read the attached .pdf file "Acceptance procedure and conditions of enrolment".

Admission Requirements (Ca' Foscari students):

To apply for the Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School as a Ca' Foscari student you must meet the following requirements:

  • be regularly enrolled (degree seeking) as of 31 January, 2018
  • hold a good working knowledge of English: all applicants are required to sit an assessment in the form of an interview which counts for 60% of the overall selection grade
  • have an above average academic record, counting for 40% of the total points used in the selection process

Minimum academic requirements

The CFHSS is a programme for students of excellence, and to be eligible for selection, students must therefore have a minimum grade, which makes up 40% of the total points used in the selection process.

NB: students without the minimum requirements can still apply, but will be placed in a waitlist, and considered separately by the commission.

Undergraduate students:

1st year students: 85/100 in the High School completion exam ("esame di stato / maturità") or equivalent
2nd year students: an average grade of 26/30 and the completion of 40 ECTS
3rd year students: an average grade of 26/30 and the completion of 90 ECTS

Graduate students:

1st year students: a grade of 100/110 for your Bachelor's Degree (degrees in Sciences, Economics) or 105/110 for your Bachelor's Degree (degrees in Languages and Humanities)
2nd year students: an average grade of 28/30

Credit recognition

All credits gained during the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School are recognised by both institutions. To receive an academic transcript from the Harvard Summer School, you will need to fill out their application form.

CFHSS courses can be included on your academic transcript at Ca' Foscari in one of three ways:

  1. Elective credits (“esami a libera scelta”)
  2. Extra credits (“esami in sovrannumero”)
  3. Substitution of obligatory – core – credits

Students will be required to fill out a recognition request (available online following selection) in which they specify how they wish the credits to be recognised, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Head of Studies for each degree programme (see below).

Filling out the credit recognition form

Students must specify how they wish to recognise the credits (6 CFU), in one of the above three ways.

The "substitution" option only applies to exams that students obligatorily have in their study plan as part of their degree requirements.

To insert a CFHSS course as "choice" credits students must remove one of their previously specified choice credits.

Students wishing to insert CFHSS courses as "extra" credits should consult the regulations of their degree programme in order to verify that they are not exceeding the total number of credits allowed "in sovrannumero".

CFHSS courses inserted as choice or extra credits appear with their original title in English.

All students must request credit recognition; auditors will not be accepted on the programme.

Credit substitution ("equipollenze")

Please contact the office for any queries.

The Earth's Climate: past, present
and future
6 Carlo Barbante

CM0045 The Climate of the Past

Math 1B 12 Robin Gottlieb

ET0047 Matematica per l'economia + 6 CFU elective credits
CT0052 Istituzioni di matematica con esercitazioni 1 + CT0502 Istituzioni di matematica con esercitazioni 2
CT0245 Istituzioni di matematica con esercitazioni

International Business Law 6 Fabrizio Marrella

ET3002 Diritto Internazionale
ET0094 International Law
EM1202 International Business Law
LT5010 International Business Law
LT0820 Diritto Internazionale
LM6150 International Business Law mod.1
LT9021 International Law

Redeeming Keynes 6 Stephen A. Marglin

LM0940 Neoliberal Policies

Labor Market Discrimination 6 Matija Kovacic

ET2016 Labor economics
LM0940 Neoliberal Policies

Private and Public in Venice: in the Renaissance and beyond 6 Martina Frank & Myriam Pilutti Namer


Shakespeare's Venice: Jews, Blacks,
Muslims and Christians at the origin
of the modern world
6 Shaul Bassi

FM0374 Teoria della letteratura SP

Venetian Art and the Bible 6 Gordon Teskey


The Ethics of Identity 6 Jay Harris

LM0940 Neoliberal policies
LT9025 Theoretical Philosophy

Venice and the Classical Past 6 Lorenzo Calvelli

LT0910 Storia moderna
FM0058 Epigrafia latina SP
FT0062 Epigrafia latina

American Literary Expatriates in Europe 6 Glenda Carpio

LM1960 American cultural studies
LMJ210 US intellectual history
LT001B Letterature angloamericane 1
LT003B Letterature angloamericane 3 mod.1
FM0374 Teoria della letteratura SP
FT0042 Critica e teoria letteraria

Nature 6 Joyce Chaplin

LM3090 Filosofia politica internazionale
LT9025 Theoretical Philosophy

"A libera scelta" e "in sovrannumero" / Elective or extra credits

The following sections outline the possibilities of credit recognition among your elective credits (a libera scelta) and extra credits (in sovrannumero) within your study plan (piano di studio). Please read the relevant section for your Department carefully.

Department of Economics

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credit by all students.

Department of Management

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credit by all students.

Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credit by all students.

Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics

Environmental Science (undergraduate and graduate)

All courses may be recognised among elective or extra credits, subject to approval from the Head of Studies (a form will be provided at a later date).

Conservation Science and Technology for Cultural Heritage

All courses may be recognised among elective or extra credits, subject to approval from the Head of Studies (a form will be provided at a later date).

Computer Science (undergraduate and graduate)

All courses may be recognised among elective or extra credits.

Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage

Philosophy / Philosophical Sciences

Students can take all courses as elective or extra credits.

Philosophy, International Studies and Economics (PISE)

Students can take all courses as elective or extra credits.

Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities (EGART)

Students can take all courses as elective or extra credits.

Conservation of Cultural Heritage and Performing Arts Management / History of Arts and Conservation of Artistic Heritage

Students can take all courses as elective or extra credits.

Work, Social Citizenship, Interculturality

Students can take all courses as elective or extra credits.

Department of Humanities

CFHSS course Instructor Elective credits Extra credits
American Literary Expatriates in Europe Glenda Carpio YES YES
Shakespeare's Venice Shaul Bassi YES YES
Venice and the Classical Past Lorenzo Calvelli YES YES
The Ethics of Identity Jay Harris NO NO
Nature Joyce Chaplin NO NO
Venetian Art and the Bible Gordon Teskey NO NO
Redeeming Keynes Stephen A. Marglin NO NO
Public and Private in Venice: in the Renaissance and Beyond Martina Frank & Myriam Pilutti Namer YES YES
International Business Law Fabrizio Marrella NO NO
Labor Market Discrimination Noemi Pace NO NO
Math 1B Robin Gottlieb NO NO
The Earth's Climate Carlo Barbante NO NO

Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credit for most degree programmes - please contact the office for details.

Department of Asian and North African Studies

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credit by all students.

The Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School was established in 2006 in an unprecedented joint venture between two universities eager to develop a unique bond. The programme was to be based on the principle of an equal footing; both universities contributing equally, same number of professors and students, same requirements, same procedures of admission, a board with an equal number of members from each university directing the course of studies.

Throughout the numerous summers, one after another, this unparalleled programme has not only strengthened academic and professional bonds between the two Universities and its students, but has also formed long-lasting memories and friendships across the Atlantic. The uniqueness of the CFHSS comes from its direct cross-cultural exchange, its distinguished academic schedule supported through a rich array of activities and events, and - of course - its magical location!  

Decennial edition

“What was Venice and what is Venice? The center of an Empire, a visitable past, a modern tourist’s extravaganza? Big questions that touched the students, we are being  turned into pioneers, said one of them, pioneers in making Venetian culture new by becoming part of it. They visited San Marco at night, confronted its mosaics with those of Sant’Apollinare in Ravenna, made mosaics, and potteries, took photographs of Venetian types, went along the Brenta, roamed in the lagoon, paused in front of the Carpaccios, the Veroneses and in front of Tiepolo’s Mondo Novo. And congregated in Campo Santa Margherita,  at the end all together rooted for Italy in the soccer world cup.  Friendships in and outside the classrooms, studying hard and helping each other, celebrating July 4th and the Redentore. Understanding differences and embracing similarities. And now, ten intensive years later, this for me is the accomplished mission of the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School, and it is most deserving of celebration”

Alide Cagidemetrio
Director, Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School 2006 - 2015

In 2015 the Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School celebrated its 10th year. The programme organised a weekend of activities and events in order to celebrate, continue, and consolidate the bond that has formed between Venice, Ca' Foscari and Harvard over the years. 

In occasion of the 10 year benchmark, the Summer School also published a collection of works, thoughts, experiences and memories, as recounted by students, Faculty and staff of the programme.

Last update: 20/04/2018