Foundational Courses

All Roads Lead to Rome

All Roads Lead to Rome is a three credit, partially onsite, core course for students studying in Rome. The course is designed to satisfy the University of Notre Dame's literature, history, and fine arts requirements and it includes several opportunities for experiential/engaged learning in the city of Rome. 

Few cities in the world can boast twenty-eight centuries of such a dense, glorious, turbulent history as Rome. At the center of western culture and civilization, Rome translated Greek science and philosophy for all the nations and people of the ancient world; from the Greek tradition, Rome inherited the models to give life to its own literature in Latin, as well as those for the fine arts; it created the system of laws that is still at the base of our concept of justice, and developed a political culture that put the law above everybody and everything; it absorbed the rigorous Judean spirituality transfusing it into the new Christian tradition/religion for the ecumenical masses. Rome created the concept of public works, preferring aqueducts, sewers and thermal baths to exaggerated, hyperbolic, self-referential monuments. Most of ancient Roman literature, painting, sculpture and architecture is lost, but enough remains to help us understand why we are what we are today; for example, why we have a sense of political ethics and of religious and political liberty.

Is it possible to understand this immense phenomenon in a semester of site visits, historical studies, literary readings, film viewings and lectures? Of course not. Nevertheless, students in this course start to understand Rome by experiencing the complexity of its urban network; by studying the ruins of antiquity and the splendors of Renaissance, Baroque and 18th century Rome; by tracing the epic adventure that reunited Italy and led to the establishment of Rome as its capital (so that today it is at the heart of two states: the Italian Republic and the Vatican); by revisiting the tragedies of modern times, including fascism and the civil war; and by learning about the Rome of postwar and contemporary Italy.

At the end of the course every student submits a research paper on a topic of his or her choosing. The following essays were selected by the faculty to illustrate the range of interesting topics and the high quality of the scholarship of the papers that students write for the course.

Experiencing Rome through Community-Based Learning

This course facilitates and promotes meaningful civic engagement with the city of Rome; as such, it has been designated as a Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns Community-based Learning Course. Community-based learning (CBL) is a form of experiential education that integrates community engagement with instruction and reflection, deepening and enhancing the learning that takes place both in and outside the classroom. Themes for this course will vary by semesters. Examples of course topics are: Migrants and refugees crisis in Rome; the Italian Education system in a comparative perspective.

Through independent research, interactions with experts in the field, and personal experiences as active members of a local organization, students will have the opportunity to engage with timely topics from multiple perspectives. At the end of the semester, students will participate in a Student-led Community-based learning conference.