This project was carried out during the Academic Year 2011-12 and involved students from the Departments of History, History of Art and Italian who were studying in Italy. Through student surveys, focus groups, self-reflective practices such as multi-media journals, and other activities, we investigated the nature of study abroad experiences and the way in which these foster the development of intercultural capabilities. We also asked how studying abroad affects the students' understanding of the way in which 'home' spaces are shaped by international flows and intercultural connections.
The study built on findings from the King's College/Warwick project and on collaboration with the Prato Centre run by Monash University. It was characterized by a strong comparative perspective, taking into account the experiences of different cohorts studying in Italy, as well as the impact of two different models of study abroad: the 'Venice term' (in which a group of students receives tuition by Warwick staff in an international location) and the 'Year Abroad' (where students take part in exchanges with partner universities for periods of six to ten months).
Participants were introduced to basic principles of qualitative research as well as to key readings in intercultural communication and cultural literacy. The data collected through the research will inform the development of future study abroad academic programming aimed to increase the academic literacy of both students and staff in this area of expertise.
Loredana Polezzi is Associate Professor in the Department of Italian and Director of the Warwick Venice Centre. Her research interests focus on the relationship between translation, migration and multiple forms of social mobility.