Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative


In response to the Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI), we have articulated the goals of our undergraduate program and major as follows:

  • Develop proficiency, approximating to that of an educated native speaker, in speaking, reading, writing, and comprehending Italian;
  • Be broadly familiar with the historical development of Italian culture from the Middle Ages to the present day;
  • Acquire detailed familiarity, through intensive and focused study. with a chronologically and generically disparate selection of cultural phenomena connected with Italy and the history of their critical and social reception;
  • Develop advanced skills in the critical analysis of literary texts and other cultural materials (e.g. films, paintings, musical compositions, historical documents, critical theories, social practices);
  • Have awareness and experience of a variety of approaches to the study of Italian culture, as practiced in both the humanities and the social sciences, and of the ways in which these may intersect to generate interdisciplinary study;
  • Learn to conduct research, i.e. to gather and evaluate evidence relating to a hypothesis and construct an argument using it;
  • Learn to assess the validity of evidence-based argumentation conducted by others;
  • Be aware of, and scrupulously practice, ethics-based protocols of citation etc. in academic research and writing;
  • Write clearly, accurately, and persuasively in both Italian and English;
  • Where practically possible, encounter contemporary Italian culture directly through study or travel in Italy. In this respect, study abroad might well constitute a capstone experience.
  • Develop a sense of the study of Italian culture not merely as an end in itself but as an integral part of a potentially unbounded set of processes and relationships through the exploration of which thinking human beings engage with the world they inhabit.

Relationship between goals and program
We view the relationship between these goals and our current curriculum as follows:

  • Development of language skills is assured by the lower-division sequence of language courses (1, 2, 3, 4), taken in the first four semesters, and 101: Advanced Writing Workshop, intended to be taken in the junior year and required for the major. It is further reinforced by the provision of numerous upper-division electives taught through the medium of Italian, at least three of which (along with 101, 102, and 105) must be taken for the major.
  • Broad familiarity with the historical development of Italian culture from the Middle Ages to the present day is attained through recommended lower-division survey course (40) and the upper-division 105: History of Italian Culture, taught in Spring semesters and required for completion of the major and minor in Italian Studies.
  • Intensive focused study of cultural phenomena, development of advanced skills in critical analysis, awareness and experience of interdisciplinary approaches, and practice in research and writing skills are obtained from all other upper-division courses in the department (or cross-listed and other approved courses elsewhere), whether taught in Italian or English. For students interested in a “capstone experience” they all culminate in thesis courses normally taken in the last semester before graduation.
  • Study and travel in Italy are encouraged by the department, usually in collaboration with the UC Education Abroad Program; up to twelve units of upper-division work on Italian topics taken on EAP/Italy may be counted toward satisfaction of major requirements. Intending majors commonly satisfy their elective course requirements entirely or partially in this way. The department is also normally sympathetic, where pedagogically appropriate and consonant with College and University policy, to requests for non-EAP study abroad to be accepted toward completion of major requirements.