A Sustainable Serenissima: Water and the Future of Venice
This residential module will take place in Venice and examines the ways in which contemporary Venice confronts sustainability challenges and develops resilience.
We will consider past, present, and future threats to a sustainable Venice, along with complex and unique local solutions using the three main pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, and economic areas) as lenses to focus our interdisciplinary discussions.
The theme of ‘water’ will serve as a conceptual anchor to ground our consideration of issues such as rising sea levels, urbanization, resource management, energy production and distribution, along with historical Venetian industries such as, for example, publishing, shipbuilding, munitions, glassmaking, finance, and tourism.
We will also consider Venice’s long tradition of hospitality as a sanctuary city, and the challenges Venice faces when welcoming migrants and refugees today.
Who is this module open to?
This is an optional module for the BA Liberal Arts, and for the GSD BASc Global Sustainable Development degrees; it is open to all current intermediate level (second year) students at Warwick, but students from SCFS will have priority.
Open to students from partner institutions.
- IP315-15 - Finalist, taken in intermediate year for 15 CATS credit to final year (2024/25)
This module will take place 10-28 June 2024.
- Prep week: 10-14 June 2024
- Teaching (in Venice): 17-28 June 2024
- Final assessment deadline: w/c 30 September 2024
Students would be required to fund their travel to, and living expenses (accommodation and subsistence) in Venice for this module.
Students may wish to purchase one or two of the books that will be recommended for reading, but costs for these will be kept below £30 total per student, and books will all be available via the Warwick library.
Warwick students may be eligible to apply for Turing funding if taking two WIISP modules back-to-back in Venice and residing for at least 28 nights.
This is a residential module and will be taught in Venice, Italy.
What's special about our modules?
This programme will challenge your thinking, develop your confidence and open up a world of new opportunities. You’ll consider new ideas, apply theory to real world issues working in teams and individually, and develop new networks, connections and friendships. This will provide you strong analytical and research methods skills which also enhance your employability profile for a globalised world of work, derived from a transformative blend of online learning and intercultural engagement.
Access to Intercultural Training and Undergraduate Research schemes will provide further enhancement of your skills.
The intensive nature of our programme lets you focus purely on your chosen modules.
You should expect one to two weeks of daily face-to-face sessions (on campus or online as appropriate and possible) and one to two weeks of online activities. The aim is to work in groups consisting of incoming students (usually including Monash students) and Warwick students during the module. Assessments will consist of a mix of group and individual activities.
Where will you be taught?
Our intensive modules are taught in various ways: either blended (combing online learning and face-to-face teaching) or fully online. Blended modules will be based at Warwick central campus, or our overseas residentials will be based at selected European locations relevant to module content. Our modules are designed to be taught in an intensive way, combining physical teaching, where possible, and online activities. We have the flexibility to move wholly online if it's needed too.
Whichever teaching structure transpires, all participants will be expected to attend all lectures and group work activities in real time, be it in person or online; this might include some activities in the prep week (where listed in Key dates). As modules are intensive there is not expected to be free time during the teaching period for you to undertake other activities; there will be limited time available for you to explore the surrounding area as you choose which could be to complement your studies.
Students are responsible for checking their own visa requirements and all associated applications and costs.
For overseas modules students are responsible for identifying and booking their own accommodation.
Dr Bryan Brazeau
Bryan Brazeau is Associate Professor in Liberal Arts at the University of Warwick, where he teaches classes on Science, Society, and the Media, Underworlds, Paradises, Quests, Heroism and its Discontents, and Exile and Homecoming.
His wide-ranging research interests include Renaissance poetics, digital pedagogy, Venice and its postmodern representations, the history of emotions, and classical reception. Bryan previously held a postdoctoral research fellowship on the ERC-funded ‘Aristotle in the Italian Vernacular’ project at Warwick, working on the vernacular reception of Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric and the intersections of this reception with Counter-Reformation religious culture.
He received his Ph.D. in Italian Studies from New York University in 2015 with a dissertation that examined the figure of the hero in sixteenth- century Italian Christian epic.
He is the editor of The Reception of Aristotle’s Poetics in the Italian Renaissance: New Directions in Criticism (Bloomsbury, 2020), and his articles have appeared in Renaissance and Reformation, MLN, The Italianist, California Italian Studies, Humanities and History of European Ideas. He is also a series editor for Sources in Early Poetics (Brill).
He is currently developing a monograph on the philosophy, poetry, and literary theory of Torquato Tasso.
Watch our video
This module examines the ways in which contemporary Venice confronts sustainability challenges and develops resilience. We will consider past, present, and future threats to a sustainable Venice, along with complex and unique local solutions using the three main pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, and economic areas) as lenses to focus our interdisciplinary discussions. The theme of ‘water’ will serve as a conceptual anchor to ground our consideration of issues such as rising sea levels, urbanization, resource management, energy production and distribution, along with historical Venetian industries such as, for example, publishing, shipbuilding, munitions, glassmaking, finance, and tourism. We will also consider Venice’s long tradition of hospitality as a sanctuary city, and the challenges Venice faces when welcoming migrants and refugees today.
This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.
The module’s structure is based on the three pillars of sustainability. Social and historical aspects will be studied in the preparatory period. Then for the teaching period in Venice the focus will be on contemporary environmental and economic issues. The final session will focus on bringing together interdisciplinary knowledge and asking how Venice’s past can inform both its present challenges and implementations of future solutions.
Week 1: Introduction and Intersecting Contexts
- M. Introduction: Venice, Representations, and Sustainability Challenges
- Tu. Cultural Contexts: Migration and Sanctuary at the Crossroads of Global Trade
- W. Ecological Contexts I: Sustaining The Venetian Empire
- Th. Ecological Contexts II: Forestry and Fisheries Management
- F. Economic Contexts: Tourism from the ‘Grand Tour’ to the ‘Grandi Navi’
Week 2: Case Studies and Problems in Contemporary Venice
- M. Holding Back the Tides 1: Wet and Dry Urban Infrastructure
- Tu. Global Gentrification, Cruise Ships, and Civic Resistance: The Fondaco de' Tedeschi
- W. Holding Back the Tides 2: the MOSE Project and the Venetian Lagoon
- Th. Industrial Arts and Crafts in Crisis: Porto Marghera, Burano, Arzanà
- F. A New Atlantis: Rebuilding For A Sustainable Future? (Fondazione Cini, Arsenale) / —Conclusions
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
- Identify the key sustainability challenges currently facing present-day Venice and the perspectives of concerned stakeholders
- Engage in detailed reflection on how the city has dealt with such complex problems and competing economic, political, social, cultural, and environmental interests in the past
- Critically analyse existing local sustainable solutions, and future implementation plans, along with their scalability and adaptability to other global challenges
- Apply advanced cognitive skills to develop evidence-based policy proposals and critically reflective research
- Implement meta-cognitive skills to approach wicked problems through Problem-Based Learning and gain greater understanding of their own role in the learning process
Indicative reading list
Selections from the following monographs and edited collections will be assigned:
- Anheier, Helmut and Yudhishthir Raj Isar, eds., Cities, Cultural Policy and Governance. Sage (2012)
- Appuhn, Karl. A Forest on the Sea: Environmental Expertise in Renaissance Venice. Johns Hopkins UP (2009)
- Beatley, Timothy, ed. Green Cities of Europe: Global Lessons on Green Urbanism. Island Press (2012)
- Caroli, R. and S. Soriani, eds., Fragile and Resilient Cities on Water: Perspectives from Venice and Tokyo. Cambridge Scholars (2017)
- Da Mosto, Jane, Thierry Morel, Renato Gibin, et al., eds. The Venice Report: Demography, Tourism, Financing and Change of Use of Buildings. Cambridge UP (2009)
- Davis, Robert C. Venice, the Tourist Maze: A Cultural Critique of the World’s Most Touristed City. University of California Press (2004)
- Ferraro, Joanne M. Venice: History of the Floating City. Cambridge UP
- Fletcher, C.A. and T. Spencer, eds. Flooding and Environmental Challenges for Venice and its Lagoon. Cambridge UP (2005)
- Hom, Stephanie Malia. The Beautiful Country: Tourism & The Impossible State of Destination Italy. University of Toronto Press (2015)
- Lanaro, Paola, ed. At the Centre of the Old World: Trade and Manufacturing in Venice and the Venetian Mainland, 1400-1800. Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (2006)
- Lane, Frederic Chapin. Venetian Ships and Shipbuilders of the Renaissance. Johns Hopkins UP (1992)
- McCray, W. Patrick. Glassmaking in Renaissance Venice: The Fragile Craft. Routledge (1999)
- Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice. Vintage Classics (2001)
- Musu, Ignazio, ed., Sustainable Venice: Suggestions for the Future. Kluwer Academic (2001)
- Pertot, Gianfranco. Venice: Extraordinary Maintenance. Holberton (2004)
- Plant, Margaret. Venice, Fragile City 1797-1997. Yale UP (2003)
- Redford, Bruce. Venice and the Grand Tour. Yale UP (1996)
- Rosi, Gianfranco. Fire at sea (Fuocoammare). [Film] (2016)
- Standish, Dominic. Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality. University Press of America (2011)
Additional texts, specific book chapters and articles will be set for additional reading.
Students will produce a final research essay on a topic of their own choosing related to the themes of the module
This is module offers a unique transdisciplinary learning experience allowing students to achieve breadth and depth of knowledge. The module is designed to provide the students with an understanding of relationships between the different disciplinary areas within sustainability, urban studies, and cultural studies, with a particular focus on Venice. It also invites to the students to make connections with other disciplinary areas covered in their main study programme. It provides the students with a critical understanding of dominant traditions and methodologies associated with the main phenomena covered in the module and enables the students to transcend disciplinary boundaries. The interdisciplinary course cohort provides contact opportunities and learning to see from different perspectives is a core aspect of the learning experience.
The module draws on cases from different contexts, including different geopolitical areas, professional environments and linguistic contexts. The content and assessment invite the students to reflect on the societal relevance in different environments of the phenomena covered in the module. The assessment involves students working in groups with academic and ideally non-academic stakeholders which (will) allow for a global and local outlook to be built into the module’s work. The international and diverse course cohort provides contact opportunities and learning to see from different perspectives is a core aspect of the learning experience. The module will include experiential learning onsite in Venice.
Subject specific skills
Analytical skills attained through the analysis of existing local sustainable solutions, and future implementation plans, along with their scalability and adaptability to other global challenges.
- Advanced cognitive skills of critical reflection
- Meta-cognitive skills gained through Problem-Based Learning which aid understanding of own role in the learning process
- Work effectively with others in group tasks and in teams
- Plan and manage time in projects
- Develop strong analytical skills
- Find, evaluate and use previous research at a level appropriate for a final-year module
- Use a range of tools and resources effectively in the preparation of course work
- Read and critically discuss academic papers effectively in the context of an intensive programme
- Communicate clearly and effectively in discussions
- Communicate ideas effectively in writing
Through this module, you will develop a number of different skills that are sought by employers which will support your professional development. We have highlighted this to enable you to identify and reflect on the skills you have acquired and apply them throughout your professional journey including during the recruitment process whether this is in a CV/application form or at an interview:
- Critical and independent thinking — developed through:
- Weekly tasks, readings, and homework
- Encounters with and employment of theories of tourism studies (such as the idea of Venice as a hyperreal/postmodern city), climate change, migration, and complex systems mapping.
- Problem-based learning activities and in-class discussion based on real-world scenarios (such as the control room of the MOSE dam)
- Written communication – developed through:
- Research Essay
- Written weekly briefs presented in class
- Oral Communication – developed through:
- Weekly presentations and simulations in class (based on both real-world scenarios and imagined ones)
- Research and Evaluation – developed through:
- Weekly problems and tasks that require the students to research and evaluate issues concerning the sustainability of Venice from 697 (the foundation of the Republic) to present day along with critical evaluation of early modern sustainability policies contrasted with current ones
- Final research paper that involves the formulation of their own research question and conducting their own in-depth reviews and analysis of theories, archival materials, case studies, or interpretations of expressive works (fiction, non-fiction, and many works that defy and question this binary)
- Time and Self- Management — developed through:
- Weekly groupwork and problems
- Pre-class quiz that makes students take personal responsibility for their reading and preparation for the module
- Weekly readings, problems, and tasks (sometimes in groups, other times individually)
- Data analysis – developed through
- Analysis techniques that combine narrative, qualitative, and quantitative data when looking at systems maps, climate change (acqua alta), and uncontrolled tourism in Venice
- Self-Awareness – developed through
- Exploration of Venice and its problems as a “laboratory” for the world – comparisons to Barcelona, Bangladesh, and Antarctica (among others) and reflective recognition of situated position of students as analysts.
This is an indicative breakdown
||6 sessions of 1 hour (4%)|
|Seminars||10 sessions of 1 hour (7%)|
|Tutorials||3 sessions of 1 hour (2%)|
|Project supervision||1 session of 1 hour (1%)|
76 hours 30 minutes (51%)
||53 hours 30 minutes (35%)|
You must pass all assessment components to pass the module:
|Research Project or Policy Proposal||65%||47 hours|
This is the final (and main) piece of assessment in this module. It asks students to devise a research project for an essay of their chosen interdisciplinary topic, or to draft a policy proposal informed by research. The projects will be discussed with the module convenor in group sessions.
As this module is for students who intend to carry the credit into their final year at Warwick, this assessment will be due in w/c 30 September 2024 (the academic year following the teaching).
|Online Test (Take-Home)||35%||6 hours 30 minutes|
Online test in week one (prep week) to ensure comprehension and critical thinking around set background readings in week one.
Feedback on assessment
- Feedback on test will be provided on Moodle
- Detailed feedback for written assignments will be provided via Tabula
Before you apply
You can take a maximum of two WIISP modules, and cannot take them at the same time. This module runs at the same time as the following modules, so you cannot choose these as a second module:
- Computational ChemistryLink opens in a new window
- Nature and Modernity in Latin AmericaLink opens in a new window
- The Invention of the American IndianLink opens in a new window
The preparatory reading week for the following modules overlaps with this module:
- Multilingualism and DiversityLink opens in a new window
- Venice: Resistance and RepresentationLink opens in a new window