Ca' Foscari - Harvard Summer School (joint)

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 100 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

Programme 2019

Orientation: June 17 - 22
Regular courses: June 24 - August 7


Regular Courses


International Business Law

Fabrizio Marrella

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Tue/Thu 13:15-15:45

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

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft128 K

An Introduction to Complexity in Economics and the Social Sciences

Paolo Pellizzari

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Tue/Thu 13:15-15:45

Course description
This course provides an introduction to complexity with emphasis on economic and social systems. In the attempt to find a formal and shared definition of complex phenomena, which still lacks in the literature, we explore ideas, models and examples coming from biology, chaos theory, financial markets, computational science, genetics and societies. We mainly aim at showing that, somewhat paradoxically, complex machinery is not needed to generate complexity, which instead is ubiquitous and can be produced by very simple rules of behaviour. We also run some computational models, using free software, to acquire hands-on experience on complex system simulation and control.

Most discussions are non technical but knowledge of Calculus I and II is needed to work on the logistic map. Interest in computational methods and programmingiswelcomed.

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft


Math 1b

Robin Gottlieb / Brendan Kelly

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: See syllabus (mostly Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday mornings)

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.

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft

Environmental Science

The Earth's Climate: past, present and future

Carlo Barbante

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Mon/Wed 9:45-12:15

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

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft


American Literary Expatriates in Europe

Glenda Carpio

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Mon/Wed 9:45-12:15

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

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft108 K

Italian Art and Archaeology in the Renaissance and Beyond

Classroom: TBC

Schedule: Mon/Wed 13:15-15:45

Course description
Italian art is characterized by an astonishing variety of expressions, forms and settings. Visitors from around the world have been dazzled by its vast range of works of art, archaeological sites, monuments, sculptural and architectural complexes, parks and gardens - a unique cultural heritage spanning millennia. This course introduces you to the richness of Italy’s cultural heritage, and explores the extensive influence that it has exerted on artists, architects, travelers, intellectuals and even politicians in the post-Classical era. Naples, Florence, Rome, Verona, Padua and Venice will be considered as case studies to explore, for example, world-famous sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Roman Forum, ancient monuments such as the Arena of Verona and prestigious collections such as those contained in the Uffizi in Florence and the Vatican Museums in Rome. You will study individual works and monuments with an eye to the context in which they were produced, and will examine the history of their survival and reception, drawing on a range of significant examples such as Piranesi’s drawings of the Roman Forum,  Michelangelo’s imitations of ancient Greek sculptures or Titian’s sketches of antiquities preserved in Venice and Rome.

Prerequisites: none

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft175 K

The Ethics of Identity

Jay Harris

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Mon/Wed 13:15-15:45

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

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft116 K

Venetian Art and the Bible

Gordon Teskey

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Mon/Wed 9:45-12:15 (but see important schedule changes)

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

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft136 K


Joyce E. Chaplin

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Tue/Thu 13:13-15:45

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

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft

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

Shaul Bassi & Stephen Greenblatt

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Mon/Wed 13:15-15:45

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.

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft152 K

Ancient Rome and Venice: the classical past and its legacy

Lorenzo Calvelli

Classroom: TBC
Schedule: Tue/Thu 9:45-12:15

Course description
This course will explore the relationship of Venice with the ancient Roman world through a double methodological lens. On the one hand, it will focus on the primary sources that help us reconstruct the history of the Venetian territory from the first millennium BCE to the time when Venice became a leading power in the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, it will investigate how classical antiquities were approached, reused, and exhibited in Venice and in the territories of the Venetian empire from the Middle Ages onwards. The course will combine class lectures and fieldtrips to different locations in and around Venice (museums, churches, public spaces), in order to get a real experience of the presence of antiquities in the city and in the surrounding islands.

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

file pdfSyllabus 2019 - draft152 K


A mandatory Orientation session will be held on June 17 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.

Orientation week will include a variety of cultural activities that students can sign up to so as to get to know Venice, and each other, before classes start.

Additional activities and events are planned throughout the programme, and again in the final week after exams.

Programme acceptance and enrolment

Enrolment is not complete unless the International Summer Schools office has received the following:

  1. Online acceptance form
  2. Receipt of payment
  3. Credit recognition request
  4. Harvard Summer School enrolment form

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

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 ("equipollenze")

Filling out the credit recognition form

Students must specify how they wish to recognise the credits (6 CFU per course), 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. CFHSS courses inserted as choice or extra credits appear in your "libretto" with their original title in English. You will then update your study plan during the designated period.

Please note:

  • 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 extra credits allowed ("in sovrannumero")
  • Students enrolled in PISE can only request the substitution ("equipollenze") of their regular obligatory courses if they have not already added other courses in substitution to their study plan, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Head of Studies

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

Credit substitution ("equipollenze")

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

CM0045 The Climate of the Past
LM6310 Global Social Movements

Math 1B 12 Robin Gottlieb

ET0045 Matematica-1 + 6 CFU elective credits
ET2018 Mathematics
ET0047 Matematica per l'economia + 6 CFU elective credits
ET4010 Computational Tools for Economics and Finance +6 CFU elective credits
CT0245 Istituzioni di matematica con esercitazioni

International Business Law 6 Fabrizio Marrella

ET3002 Diritto Internazionale
ET0094 International Law
ET2025 Business and Labor Law
EM1202 International Business Law
LT5010 International Business Law
LT0820 Diritto Internazionale
LM6150 International Business Law mod.1
LT9021 International Law

An Introduction to Complexity in the Social Sciences 6 Paolo Pellizzari

ET4010 Computational Tools for Economics and Finance
LM3090 Filosofia politica internazionale
LM6310 Global Social Movements

Italian Art and Archaeology 6 ND


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


Venetian Art and the Bible 6 Gordon Teskey


The Ethics of Identity 6 Jay Harris

FT0083 Filosofia della Storia
LM3090 Filosofia politica internazionale
LM6310 Global Social Movements
LT9025 Theoretical Philosophy

Ancient Rome and Venice 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

Nature 6 Joyce Chaplin

LM6310 Global Social Movements
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 for extra credit by all students.

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives by students enrolled in Master's degrees.

Students enrolled in Bachelor's degrees can only take Math 1B,  Introduction to Complexity and International Business Law as electives.

Department of Management

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

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives by students enrolled in Master's degrees and in the Bachelor's degree Digital Management.

Students enrolled in "ET11 Business Administration" can only take Introduction to Complexity and International Business Law as electives. For all other courses students will need to request permission from the Head of Studies (see the CFHSS office for how to do this).

Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credit by students enrolled in Bachelor's degrees.

Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics

*Master's students who do not have CM0445 in their study plan can recognise the course as elective or extra credits.

Environmental Science (undergraduate and graduate)

CFHSS course Instructor Elective credits Extra credits
Math 1B Robin Gottlieb NO NO
Introduction to Complexity Paolo Pellizzari YES YES
The Earth's Climate Carlo Barbante NO NO*
Nature Joyce Chaplin YES YES
Venetian Art and the Bible Gordon Teskey NO YES
American Literary Expatriates Glenda Carpio NO YES
International Business Law Fabrizio Marrella NO YES
Ancient Rome and Venice Lorenzo Calvelli NO YES
Shakespeare's Venice Shaul Bassi NO YES
The Ethics of Identity Jay Harris NO YES
Italian Art and Archaeology ND NO YES

Computer Science (undergraduate and graduate)

All CFHSS courses may be recognised for extra credits.

Only International Business Law, Math 1B, Introduction to Complexity and The Ethics of Identity can be taken as elective credits.

Conservation Science and Technology for Cultural Heritage (graduate)

All CFHSS courses may be recognised for extra credits.

Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credit by all students, except by students enrolled in "[FM9] History of Arts and Conservation of Artistic Heritage".

Department of Humanities

Humanities (undergraduate)

Students can take Ancient Rome and Venice, Shakespeare's Venice, Venetian Art and the Bible and Italian Art and Archaeology as electives or for extra credits

History (undergraduate)

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credits

Cultural Anthroplogy, Ethnology, Anthropological linguistics (graduate)

Students can take American Literary Expatriates, Nature and The Ethics of Identity as electives or for extra credits

Ancient Civilizations (graduate)

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credits

History from Middle Ages to the Present (graduate)

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credits

History and Management of Archival and Bibliographic Heritage (graduate)

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives or for extra credits

Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies

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

All CFHSS courses can be taken as electives by students enrolled in Bachelor's degrees.

Department of Asian and North African Studies

All CFHSS courses can be taken for extra credit by all students, except by students enrolled in "[LM8] MIM: Crossing the Mediterranean"

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: 19/04/2019