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Summer Institute in Rome

Summer Institute in Rome

  • Special Programs

Sponsored by the Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture

May 15 - June 16, 2024

 View the brochure here.

There's a new road that leads from Saint Vincent College to Rome!

Saint Vincent College students and interested students from other colleges and universities are invited to apply to be part of the annual SVC Summer Institute in Rome. Live in the historic and beautiful Benedictine monastery, Sant'Anselmo, atop the famous Aventine Hill; take SVC Core courses with your friends; explore Rome's cobblestone streets, lively markets and iconic ruins; enjoy some of the finest food, cappuccini and gelati the world has to offer; marvel at the history, both secular and sacred, that is intertwined with nearly every street; and grow as a student and person as you are nourished by the great ideas, art and faith that have made Rome the center and heart of Western Civilization.

As a student involved in the Summer Institute in Rome, you will have time to explore the city and experience Italian culture and heritage. You will join your peers on a weekend trip to Florence to study its art and to see Galileo's telescope. This is an excellent opportunity to fulfill two Core courses and to be immersed in the history and beauty of one of the world's most historically important and influential cities, one very much still at the center of the Catholic intellectual tradition. For students outside of Saint Vincent College, we are willing to work with your institution so that you may receive college credit for our unique courses in the Eternal City. After these four weeks, you will know your way around Rome, and feel that it is, at least in part, your city! 


Click on the Green Button below to apply to the SIIR 2024.  Applications are due Friday, January 26, 2024.






Costs and Scholarships

The SVC Summer Institute in Rome is an excellent opportunity to learn and live in Rome—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people! Our goal is to make this experience as affordable as we can.

Students can sign up for 2 or 3 classes. The cost for the trip is a $3500 fee (housing, group travel in Italy, and all group meals), SVC summer tuition, and airfare. Pell grants are applicable to tuition costs. Other scholarships and fundraising opportunities are available.

Saint Vincent College students only: We know that the situation of every student is different, and therefore are very happy to offer additional need-based scholarships to reduce the cost of the program. Those Saint Vincent College students admitted into the program will be given the chance to apply for further funding. Note that full-time Saint Vincent students will be given priority in applying for aid.

If you have any questions about need-based or tuition scholarships, contact SIIR directors Dr. Jerome Foss (  and Dr. Jessica Jones ( or Jody Marsh (

You may also send questions to

Living in Rome

Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino

Students who attend the SVC Summer institute in Rome will live in a guest wing of Sant'Anselmo monastery atop the historic Aventine Hill. Nestled in a quiet and safe residential neighborhood, Sant'Anselmo is an easy walk to all the famous places in Rome that we will be studying and visiting. It is just south of the Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman Forum, and the iconic Colosseum. The beauty of the views of the city and St. Peter's Basilica from the Aventine is difficult to exaggerate!

Sant'Anselmo is home to an International College and it is the Primatial Abbey of the Order of Saint Benedict. Monks from around the world stay in this abbey when they are studying in or visiting Rome, making it an incredibly diverse and culturally rich religious house. Students will have the opportunity to attend daily prayer, mass, and confession.

The rooms we have reserved at Sant'Anselmo are on two floors—one for men and one for women. All rooms are singles. Many of our meals will be with the monks at Sant'Anselmo, but we will also have dinners away from campus in family-owned restaurants. Students will get to know the Aventine and surrounding areas exceptionally well!

Come and live in Rome for five weeks and experience the beauty of the Aventine Hill and the peaceful setting of Sant'Anselmo.

Learning in Rome

Liberal Education in the Eternal City

The Summer Institute in Rome is open to all SVC students as well as students from other colleges and universities. The SIIR program allows all students to complete required coursework during an accelerated semester in Rome.

All of the courses fulfill the SVC LLL Core.  For students outside SVC, we will help you negotiate transfer credits for our courses with your institution. We have classroom space at Sant'Anselmo, but much of our course time will be spent in museums, churches, and historic sites like the Roman Forum, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Pantheon. We will also travel as a class to Florence, learning how its politics, art, and science drew inspiration from Rome.  Other trips include Assisi and Monte Cassino. 

Explore the tabs below for more information about the courses that are being offered.

  • Roman Political Thought


    Ancient Rome’s contributions to civilization are legion. Among the most visible are the ideas and practices that continue to influence the political philosophy and civil and legal institutions of many nations, including the United States. This course seeks to understand the Roman conceptions of such things as statesmanship, law, citizenship, virtue, rhetoric, civil religion, and imperialism, through a close reading of primary sources written by those who shaped or later reflected upon Rome. Authors might include Cicero, Lucretius, Livy, Virgil, Tacitus, Marcus Aurelius, Plutarch, St. Augustine, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Gibbon, and Publius.

    This course can be taken as either a politics or a philosophy course, thus fulfilling either a social science or a philosophy core requirement. Three credits.

    Foss Headshot 5

    The course professor is Dr. Jerome Foss, associate professor of politics, Director of the Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, Director of the SVC Summer Institute in Rome, and Fellow of the Center for Political and Economic Thought. Dr. Foss earned his B.A. from the University of Dallas and his M.A. and PhD from Baylor University. He has published several articles and two books: Flannery O'Connor and the Perils of Governing by Tenderness (Lexingtong, 2019) and Constitutional Democracy and Judicial Supremacy: John Rawls and the Transformation of American Politics (Cambria, 2016).

  • Images and Evangelization - Christian Art in the City of Rome

    San Clemente

    This class explores the city of Rome as the cradle of the Christian tradition in the visual arts. From the earliest paintings in the catacombs to the monumental installations of the Baroque, the Christian community in Rome engaged with the arts as a form of evangelization. While at first, art was strictly tied to theology, the Middle Ages saw art collaborate more closely with the imagination of the artist culminating in the glorious productions of the Renaissance and the Baroque. Through readings, site visits and classroom lectures, student will learn the history of Christian imagery in Rome, the techniques and methods for making art, the rudiments of iconography, and also explore the question of defining "Christian" Art. Site visits will include the Catacombs of Priscilla, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica, St Mary Major as well as a trip to Florence.

    This course will fulfill students' Fine Arts requirement for the core. Three credits.


    Dr. Elizabeth Lev is an American-born art historian who lives and studies art in Rome. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 1989, and earned her graduate degree from the University of Bologna in Northern Italy. She is the author of three books and has published numerous articles for First Things, Sacerdos, and Inside the Vatican magazines, the College Art Association, and Zenit News Agency.

  • Galileo and the Rise of Modern Science

    The Italian scientist Galileo Galilei is called the father of modern science, for his numerous contributions to astronomy, physics, instrumentation, methodology, and the philosophy of science. He is a central character in the development of a dramatic new view of the universe that emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries. Galileo’s discoveries and opinions made him a celebrity, but he was also perceived as challenging long established scientific and philosophical truths. Opposition to Galileo grew until he was finally put on trial by the Inquisition in 1633, for suspicion of spreading heresy with his scientific ideas.

    What were Galileo’s discoveries? Why did his work draw both high praise and deep criticism? Why did a Pope who initially admired Galileo and his work, eventually put his friend on trial for heresy?

    What have been the scientific and religious repercussions of the Galileo affair for the past four centuries?

    We will explore these questions in Italy, where Galileo spent his entire life. We will visit the most significant sites of the Galileo affair in Rome, all within easy reach from our classroom at Sant’Anselmo. We will also visit Florence, the city Galileo called home.

  • Ancient Philosophy

    In our age, growth in practical wisdom (or, the wisdom about how to live one’s life and attain happiness) is often presented as a matter of personal preference. For us, practical wisdom is deemed that unique, unrepeatable journey we take to find our dream jobs, our soulmates, the perfect place to live, economic security, the enjoyment of life’s basic comforts, and the like.

    But the pursuit of practical wisdom was not always thought to be “up to the individual” alone; nor was it always defined only in terms of wealth, career, romantic love, and material welfare. In the ancient world, philosophers discussed the pursuit of practical wisdom with a different approach. This approach assumed practical wisdom to be a matter of truth rather than personal preference, and a matter of careful deliberation and reflection rather than inclination; this approach generally rested on deeper assumptions that human beings have natures and that we can reflect on that enduring nature to discover what happiness and virtue are for us, both collectively and individually.

    In this class, we will consider various ancient Roman philosophical views and arguments (as well as their Greek counterparts) on the nature of the good life, happiness, virtue, and how we can have hope in grasping knowledge of such things. We will engage these ancient arguments not as mere historical artifacts, but instead as potential sources of lost wisdom—or, at least as challenging foils—for our present era. We will also reflect on whether their ideas still help us think about our own lives and choices today. Finally, we ourselves will enter into this most cherished ancient form of deliberation and debate: the urgent search for enduring truth about what constitutes the good life, happiness, and virtue.


  • Theology of Early Christianity

    The Gospel of John tells us that in Christ “the logos was made flesh.” In the early Christian centuries, seeking to follow Peter’s injunction to “give an account of the hope that is in you,” followers of Christ undertook to offer a logos or account of the Word they had received. In doing so, they inaugurated a tradition of reflection which remains central to the Christian faith. Theologians of the early Church were concerned with understanding the core mysteries of Christianity: the person of Jesus Christ, the nature of God as Trinity, and the reasons for and causes of our salvation in Christ. In their search for an understanding of the mysteries of faith, these early theologians showed how reason and faith could interact in coming to know God, as well as how to have substantive dialogue on matters of faith.

    In this course, students will gain familiarity with the origins of Christian theological reflection and with the fundamental theological claims shared not only by Catholics, but by numerous Christian communities. Through reading primary theological texts, especially those surrounding the early ecumenical councils, students will consider what it means to engage faith through reason and how theology is integrated with other dimensions of Christian experience. Further, students will gain knowledge of the development of Christianity throughout its first centuries by learning about the history of the early ecumenical Councils and the cultural and political roles played by Christianity in those centuries.

Loving Rome

Fall in Love with Rome

The SVC Summer Institute in Rome is not just about taking classes—it is about experiencing the rich heritage and beauty of a culture very different from that of the United States. We are accustomed to a very fast-paced and hectic lifestyle. But in Rome  . . . it's different!

Rome is unlike any other city in the world, and there are few nations that can rival Italy's food or festivity. Daily life is slower and more reflective. Meals tend to be longer and more conversational. Living in Rome for four weeks will give you the chance to immerse yourself in this Italian way of life. You will take in the language and culture as you breath in the Mediterranean air and walk the cobblestone streets - the same streets that have been walked by countless saints and martyrs, poets and painters, statesmen and rhetoricians, and students just like you.

Explore these tabs to get a taste of what your time in Rome will be like.

  • Culture

    The SVC Summer Institute in Rome allows students to experience Rome firsthand. Students will be able to live like a Roman for five weeks. As a student in the Eternal City, you will find that Roman culture is more than ancient artifacts. Rome is a modern city that celebrates the past and has preserved the traditions from multiple generations.

    You are surrounded by history and beauty everywhere you turn in Rome. In America, a 200 year-old building is a marvel; but in Rome much remains from 2,000 years ago. Many ancient buildings have been repurposed, as Rome continues to be a living and developing city.

    The historic Castel San'Angelo is a good example of what you will find in Rome. It was originally built as a tomb for the Emperor Hadrian, and later turned into a fortress to protect the Pope during invasions. Today it is a museum with a modern restaurant at its top. Touring Castel San'Angelo is like walking through time. Its foundations are ancient, its upper walls are medieval, and its top has a modern function. And the bridge that leads to it from the ancient city is adorned by angelic statues from the studio of the Baroque sculptor Bernini. Thus from the cafe atop the castle you are sitting upon 2,000 years of history, with St. Peter's Basilica to your right, Bernini's art upon the bridge directly below you, and Rome upon your leftward gaze. You'll see painters stationed upon the Tiber River trying to capture the scene. Listen carefully and you might hear the whispers of an opera being sung in the distance. And you can take all of this in while enjoying a cappuccino and engaging friends with conversation.

    This is what it is like to be in Rome!

  • Food


    Roman cuisine is fresh, seasonal and simply-prepared. You will find that Romans take their food very seriously. Not only does it provide nourishment, it also enriches friendships and conversation.

    Most of your meals will be at Sant'Anselmo with the monks, but we will also eat weekly at local, family-owned restaurants. You'll find the food at both the monastery and the restaurants delicious!

    The Italian attitude toward alcohol is different from that of most Americans. Wine is typically served at both lunch and dinner, and is meant to compliment the meal. As part of the cultural experience, the SVC Summer Institute will host a sommelier to provide you with a basic knowledge of Italian wines.

    While most meals are included in the cost of attending the Summer Institute, you will have a few opportunities to explore the city on your own, which will include eating on your own. Make sure to bring some extra money in case you need a snack while walking the cobblestone streets. Street vendors are popular in Rome and most offer on-the-go sandwiches and refreshments. For those with a sweet tooth, prepare to see gelato and cappuccino around every corner. The food in Rome is something that you will crave even months after returning to the United States. Come to Rome with an open mind and a desire to extend their palate!

  • Excursions

    Florence Cathedral

    Although the Eternal City has much to offer, you will have the opportunity to see more of Italy. We plan to spend a weekend in Florence, exploring its cultural heritage and rich history. Florence is a short two hour train ride from Rome and the city is known for its Renaissance art, architecture, and monuments. Students will become immersed in the city's architecture by visiting the Santa Maria del Fiore, Palazzo Vecchio, and Ponte Vecchio. The trip will include academic content -- viewing the Christian art in Florentine museums and churches, and seeing Galileo's telescope -- but there will also be time for you and your friends to explore the city and take in its beauty.

    We are also looking into the possibility of other day trips around Italy as a class, such as Subiaco, Monte Cassino, or Assisi. But we want to also give students the chance to see Rome and Italy at their own pace. At least a couple of the weekends will be free for you to see more of Rome or travel elsewhere in Italy. We will help you learn how to use the public transportation within Rome, and the trains that carry passengers throughout the nation.

Contact Information

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. We are here for you!

Email the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture or any of the following:

Jerome C. Foss, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Politics Director, The Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture
Director, The SVC Summer Institute in Rome
Fellow, Center for Political and Economic Thought


Jessica Jones, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Co-Director, The SVC Summer Institute in Rome 


Samantha Firestone
Coordinator, The Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture
Coordinator, The SVC Summer Institute in Rome