Ca' Foscari Columbia Summer Program (joint)

As a Ca' Foscari student you can apply to be one of 6 students who will join around 20 students from the prestigious Columbia University of New York, embarking on a truly international summer experience right here in Venice. You can choose to take one or two courses in Italian culture and society, which upon completion can be recognised within your academic transcript.

The programme is designed with full interaction in mind: through the numerous field trips and extra-curricular activities, you will have many opportunities to engage with international students both culturally and academically, communicating in both Italian and English, while forming new professional and personal relationships. Find out more, and see what Columbia students had to say about past programmes on the Columbia programme website.

We are currently working on the 2023 edition. Check our website often for any updates!

Courses 2022

The 2022 programme offers the following four courses:

Prerequisites: None
Instructors: Caroline A. Wamsler

Venice's unique geographical location in the reflective waters of the Adriatic and at the crossroads between East and West has had a profound impact on all aspects of Venetian life and culture. This course will investigate the artistic production of the Lagoon City between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. The compelling works of Venetian artists, such as Carpaccio, Bellini, Giorgione and Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, as well as the great civic and religious monuments, including the Palazzo Ducale, the great mendicant churches, and the Basilica di San Marco, will be considered in light of the sophisticated political and social systems of the Venetian Republic. Issues such as the development of the distinctive urban fabric, the invention of a civic iconography, the role of the artist, and the Venetian workshop practices, as well as the impact of the Islamic world, and private and corporate patronage, will be examined.

Review Exam (20%)
Journal/Sketchbook (25%): A visual and written record chronicling your explorations of Venetian art
Term Essay (30%)
In-class participation (25%): Class discussions and participation form an essential part of this course. Students will be asked to give presentations on specific works of art and architecture and will lead discussions based on the readings and their research.

Prerequisites: none
Instructor: Alexander Alberro

This seminar introduces the relationship between contemporary artistic practices and the regularly recurring survey shows of international art that have come, since the late 1980s, to define contemporary art. These landmark survey shows are commonly known as “biennials, but encompass not just exhibitions that recur every two years but also triennials, irregular mega-‐exhibitions known as manifestas, and the quinquennial survey exhibition, documenta. They are one of the most ubiquitous and celebrated exhibition formats across the globe, appearing in cities as different as Saõ Paulo, Istanbul, Havana, Dakar, Seoul, and Kochi. A large art public encounters contemporary art solely within the frames of these exhibitions, while the constellation of artists and art from diverse cultures and places that these events feature has generated vital intercultural dialogues.

The seminar will explore not only the benefits to art history and art making brought by the biennials, such as the ways they draw local artists into ostensibly global networks of art world attention and financial support, but also the extent to which these mega-‐ exhibitions have contributed to the spread of transnational capital and imperialist politics associated with the current systemic deepening of capitalist relations commonly referred to as neoliberalism. The extent to which biennials replicate and reinforce the neocolonial flows of international commerce, politics and power will be one of our central concerns.

Rather than a history of biennials, the seminar will seek to come to an understanding of the impact of global mega-‐exhibitions on infrastructure of contemporary art, a network based on local customs and productions but defined by global exhibitions, markets, art criticism and online platforms. Rejecting the modernist assumption that art has a cultural and geographic center located in Western Europe and North America, we will instead explore the more decentralized vision of art’s communicative potential that has accompanied contemporary art.


  • class presentation (including case studies and reading reports) 40%
  • class participation 30%
  • final paper 30%

Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Mieke Van Molle

The course aims at raising awareness about the importance of conservation and maintenance by conveying methods & principles through the particular example of Venice, where many conservation problems are concentrated and intensified due to its location in an aggressive lagoon environment and the proximity of the largeindustrial area of Marghera. The safeguarding of Venice will also be seen under the perspective of the fragile modern urban community beyond the mere physical survival of the city.

The program is structured in a progressive learning process,providingparticipants with an understanding of the Built Heritage of Venice, its historical development, construction techniques and building materials,aimedat gaining insight in the related conservation problems. Students are first introduced to the particular conservation problems of the city of Venice and its Lagoon environment. The course then addresses the historical growth and architectural development of Venice, its specific construction techniques and its large variety of stone materials, originating from all over the Mediterranean. It subsequently focuses on the multidisciplinary conservation process, including the diagnostic survey, the different decay mechanisms and finally offering an overview of the conservation treatment. 


Grading will include active class participation(25%),a written and documented research paper to be completed at mid-term (25%), as well as a documented end-term research (written paper 25% and oral presentation 25%). Detailed information will be given during the course. It is important that students bring their camera for documentation as well as comfortable closed shoes with rubber soles (e.g. sneakers) for visits to ongoing conservation projects.

Prerequisites: None
Instructor: Elizabeth Leake

This class will explore the city of Venice as it appears on screen and in real life. We'll sit in the cool of an air-conditioned classroom as we watch films from such directors as Woody Allen, Andrea Segre, Luchino Visconti and Silvio Soldini. Then we’ll explore the city ourselves to experience first-hand the settings for so many films. Among the many questions we’ll explore: Whose Venice are we seeing, that of the tourists or of the inhabitants? Why are so many love stories set in Venice? What about the “Venice” in Las Vegas? In California?

Grading / Course Requirements
Active participation in all class discussions; midterm; and final in-class exam. Discussions in English, films with Italian with English subtitles, readings available in English and Italian.

Admission Requirements

To apply for the Ca' Foscari Columbia Summer Programme as a Ca' Foscari student you must meet the following requirements:

  1. be regularly enrolled (degree seeking) as of 31 January, 2022
  2. hold a certified B2 level of English
  3. have an above average academic record (see below)

Minimum academic requirements

The Columbia Summer Programme is a programme for students of excellence.

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 
  • 3rd year students: an average grade of 26/30 

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

Please note that all students coming from all other Universities must apply through Columbia University.

Fees and applications


Each course costs €240. Programme fees cover all instruction, field trips and extra-curricular activities, student administration (including the issue of a final transcript) and orientation.


Information on how to apply for the 2023 edition will be available soon.

2022 programme

  • Elizabeth Leake (Instructor for Venice in Modernity: Venice in Film), Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Italian Department at Columbia
  • Caroline Wamsler (Instructor for Art in Venice), Lecturer in the Art and Archeology Department at Columbia University
  • Johanna Fassl (Instructor for Art in Venice), Professor at Franklin University Switzerland
  • Alexander Alberro (Instructor for Contemporary Art at the Biennale), Professor at Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Mieke Van Molle (Instructor for Conservation of Venice and its Built Heritage), Freelance Conservator


Last update: 24/11/2022