The College of Art and Architecture students prepare to study abroad


There”s so much more to learning than listening to lectures in a classroom.

That”s why 15 students from the University of Idaho”s College of Art and Architecture will be traveling to Italy this summer to experience their field of study rather than just read about it.

Stephen Drown is the program head for the landscape architecture program and one of the faculty advisers for the architecture summer travel program.

Stephen Drown | Courtesy A group of students from the College of Art and Architecture spent six weeks of their summer studying abroad in Italy.

Stephen Drown | Courtesy
A group of students from the College of Art and Architecture spent six weeks of their summer studying abroad in Italy.

Drown said the students will be leaving for Italy on May 31 and returning July 12. While they are there, they will be taking studio classes, touring the city and immersing themselves in the culture and the language.

“In landscape architecture, exposure to history is really important and the experience of different cultures is very important for professional development,” Drown said.

Drown said he believes that landscape architecture is an art that reflects the culture of civilization and tells a historical story. When students study abroad, Drown said they”re provided with the opportunity to make connections between art and history.

“Study abroad is often seen in landscape architecture as a tool to ground people in the origins of their own profession,” Drown said.

The students learn how cities grow and how landscapes evolve over time. They also learn about the socioeconomic context of landscape architecture and issues they as architects must address when they are creating their art.

“They realize it”s not just about beautiful experiences or landscapes,” Drown said. “They learn landscapes are a product of a particular period in time and how to reflect that back on our time and address our critical issues.”

Drown said the department chose Italty because of the country”s influence on landscape architecture.

As a country, Italy spends a lot of money on art, preservation and architecture. Drown said it is deeply ingrained into their culture and the students get to be a part of it.

“There”s an emphasis on compression for the design studio our students take,” Drown said.”We force the students to do a project they would normally do in a semester in six weeks.”

The students will reside in the town of Cremolino, where they will spend their six weeks abroad practicing time management and learning more about landscape architecture.

“We are looking at a little project where the hill towns are being pressured to grow,” Drown said. “These places are being reused as communities where people will buy a second home. We have a theoretical project where we take a historical portion of Cremolino and we have to add so many more units of housing, so we can accommodate this sprawl.”

The students are in a studio Monday through Thursday for four hours working on this theoretical project. In the class they speak English, but the professors invite a Italian professional assistant to teach them a bit more about the language culture and its relevance to their project.

The students also have a class that is called landscape language and culture where the students learn the language. The students began the process of this course on April 9 at UI to familiarize themselves with the language ahead of time.

“We learn the language not just to learn the language, but to really understand what it means to be in Italy,” Drown said. “The language is an expression of the culture – it”s related to the culture. We are studying landscape architecture so understanding the relationship to the history and culture is important.”

In addition to all of the landscapes and architecture stuff the students get to learn and work on in their language and culture class, they also get a taste of the culture”s food and the relationship behind that as well, Drown said.

“Italy is a great place to see and read landscape,” Drown said. “We want them to be immersed in that and then come back and be a little more enlightened on why they do what they do and how.”

Kevin Douglas Neighbors can be reached at

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