Before heading to Italy, it was very important for the group to gain an understanding and knowledge of Italy, its context and historical background dating all the way back to ancient times. During the 4 weeks prior to leaving for Italy, we studied all of these aspects to give us a better perspective and understanding of Italian history, innovation, culture and context of Italian design. Each week two topics were studied, ranging from general history, Roman and Toscana history, to specific design studios and designers that we would be interviewing while in Italy. Preparations of interview questions were also done for each studio and designer that we were scheduled to visit.
The benefit of structuring the class this way is that when we are visiting one of the many sites during the field school, such as the Pantheon for instance, the student who has taken on researching that particular aspect of Italian history will be able to provide the group with a presentation right on the spot. It is a more proactive approach to learning and enables the students opportunities to contribute to the collective learning of the class. Each presentation is listed and displayed here.