Whether it be observing Italian shoemakers in a Milan design house, styling a fashion photo shoot or creating a still motion video – the Disegno Italia study abroad program at West Virginia University provides students with eye-opening experiences in a country filled with beauty and culture.

“Our goal for this program is to have students break out of their shells and develop a broader way of thinking and looking at the world,” said Nora MacDonald, a professor of fashion design and merchandising in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

Disegno Italia, a term coined from the Italian renaissance, encompasses the philosophies of art and design. The program teaches students the importance of the creative thought process.

Heather Papouscheck, a fashion design and merchandising major, studied abroad with Disegno Italia during the summer of 2009. The first two weeks were spent living and taking Italian language and art history classes at Il Sillabo in San Giovanni Valdarno in Tuscanny, Italy, supplemented with day trips and a long weekend trip to Rome. The students then moved on to Milan, Italy, which is known as one of the fashion capitals of the world.

“I fell in love with the culture, the food, traveling and seeing new things,” Papouschek said. “The trip gave me a sense of confidence. I feel like now I can do whatever I want to do as a result of this experience.”

The Disegno Italia program is open to students majoring in art, fashion design, fashion merchandising, interior design, design studies, landscape architecture, journalism, marketing and theatre. While in Milan, students have a wide variety of classes from which to choose that will enhance their major.

Students have the opportunity to earn six credit hours, and though they must take survival Italian language during their two weeks in Tuscany, the classes are taught in English.

Unlike most study abroad programs where students stay in the dorms of a college or university in the country they are visiting, students who participate in the Disegno Italia program stay in apartments a short distance from the schools they attend.

Professors from WVU accompany the students and serve as mentors. They also organize field trips and events for the students, which includes an Italian cooking lesson and excursions to Florence, Siena, Pisa, a Chianti vineyard, the Pantheon and the Villa Medici Garden and an archaeological museum.

If there is anything that the professors want students to take away from their experiences in Italy, MacDonald said it is the ability to think independently with a new perspective on life in general and a broader view of design.

Disegno Italia serves as a foundation for students from a variety of majors to experience Italy and learn to interact with different disciplines.

For more information, visit http://disegnoitalia.wvu.edu/ .



CONTACT: Nora M. MacDonald, Fashion Design and Merchandising
304-293-3495, Nora.MacDonald@mail.wvu.edu