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Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
Fact Sheet:
Apartment, Dormitory
Minimum GPA:
Class Standing:
2 - Sophomore
Courses Offered:
Family Studies, Human Development
Type of Program:
Faculty Led
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
0 - none
Education Abroad Adviser:
Sarah McClanahan
Internship Available:
Non-Penn State Students:
Global Programs Scholarships:
Diversity Grant-in-Aid, Grant-in-Aid
Program Description:
Department Human Development and Family Studies HDFS in Italy_city view of Florence

Program Overview

May 8 (arrive in Florence) to June 24, 2017 

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is today one of the world's most visited sites. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982 and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Situated in beautiful Tuscany, Florence contains many museums and art galleries, as well as also being one of the top fifty fashion capitals in the world.

This international program in Human Development and Family Studies offers a unique opportunity for students in HDFS and related fields to explore the sights, sounds, history and culture of contemporary Florence, while taking courses on family and childhood in Italy. With activities that include learning to buy fresh fruit and vegetables in the mercato, interacting with children in Italian schools, seeing masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery, Penn State students will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Italian life.

Students will take courses led by Penn State faculty members in conjunction with the International Studies Institute at the Palazzo Rucellai in Florence. Classroom work will be enhanced by trips to places of historical and artistic importance, such as Rome, where they will see the magnificent Coliseum, the Forum, the Vatican, and the Pantheon. Other field trips will include Naples, Pompeii, and hilltop Italian towns in other parts of Italy that will allow students to see first-hand the communities that families and children have lived in, and do live in today.

This program was designed for undergraduate students majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. All the courses being offered can be used as supporting courses for that major, or as fulfilling a General Education requirement. However, students in Early Childhood or Elementary Education would benefit from the program, as would students in developmental psychology or sociology.

Although the final deadline for the HDFS program is February 1, 2017 students may be considered by an earlier deadline of December 9,  2016 in order to plan accordingly for the Spring semester.  If students apply by the early deadline, they will be notified of acceptance early.  Any students who do not apply before December 9, will be considered and will receive notification after the February 1, deadline.

To view a list of other programs available in this region, visit our Education Abroad Regional Program Brochures.

ISI Florence International Studies Institute logo

Program Quicklinks     

Course Offerings
Housing and Meals
Program Costs
Financial Aid & Scholarships
More Information
How to Apply
Other Useful Links

Education Abroad Credits

HDFS 499A Early Childhood in Italy (3 credits)

This course will give students the opportunity to examine the way in which Italians structure the early childhood years, and the social policies that support this structure. Students will observe children in public, as well as having the opportunity to visit preschool and day care programs for young children.

HDFS 499B Historical Roots of the Modern Italian Family (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to examine the historical roots of the Italian family system as it has evolved from antiquity to modernity. Issues to be explored include the implications of economic, political, religious, and social factors, the status of Italian women over time with regard to legal rights, roles, societal expectations and cultural values, and the attitudes toward and practices regarding childrearing. 

HDFS 499C Italian Relationships, Both Cultural and Familial (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to examine the cultural factors affecting business, friendship, and family relationships in Italy. Issues to be explored include the implications of economic, political, religious, and social factors on Italian families as well as how the Italian family is changing today.

Please note the suffixes of these courses may change; they are assigned individually each summer to a course. You will receive credit for all academic courses taken at this institution, and all of your grades from abroad will count toward your Penn State cumulative GPA. You may not take any courses overseas of a Pass/Fail basis. Students may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad. These courses will not be credited at Penn State. To learn how the courses on this program can work into your individual degree audit, meet with your academic adviser.

Girls in cooking class in Italy

Courses are taught by:

Dr. Cheryl Cheek, Associate Professor of HDFS at Penn State Mont Alto and Co-coordinator of the HDFS in Italy 2017 program, has an international background. She was born in England, lived in Ethiopia as a child, and studied in Germany as an undergraduate. She worked as a mental health therapist before going back to school to receive her doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies. Her teaching interests include conflict resolution, ethics in the human services, research methods, and aging. Her area of research interest is adult development, and she enjoys studying the ways in which individual and group identities are developed and expressed. She is an avid quilter, and has published articles related to identity expression in quilting in The International Journal of Aging and Human Development and the Journal of Women and Aging. In 2008, she spent the term teaching and studying quilting in the British Isles. She has been teaching in the HDFS Italy Program for nine years and has developed a great love of Italy and its culture.

Dr. Elaine Barry, Associate Professor of HDFS at Penn State Fayette, is a Developmental Psychologist who has taught at Penn State for 16 years. Her teaching focuses on infant, child, and adolescent development and advanced development, adult-child relations, and teaching in the psychology program. Her research interests include children's memory and various aspects of parenting, especially how appropriate early dependence can lead to greater (later) independence in children.  She has recently become interested in cross-cultural and anthropological studies of childhood, and this is her first time teaching in Italy.

Robyn Chotiner, adjunct faculty at Penn State Mont Alto and Penn State Fayette, is an independent educational consultant with an emphasis on early childhood curriculum and program administration as it relates to licensing and accreditation. She has been a part of the HDFS in Italy summer program for the past four years. She is interested in international cultures and practices as they relate to children and family traditions.


Successful applicants will satisfy the pre-requisites established by the program. In order to be academically prepared for the 400-level HDFS coursework covered in the program, students should have previously taken:

  • HDFS courses (HDFS 129 or 229) or a PSYCH equivalent (PSYCH 212)   

Housing and Meals

You will live in an apartment (ISI at Palazzo Rucellai) with other program participants. Apartments are scattered around the city and are within walking distance of ISI at Palazzo Rucellai (where courses will be taken) and furnished with kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and communal living space. You will be responsible for providing your own meals. 

Program Costs

oceanview from atop hill in NaplesFor more information on program costs, please be sure to review the Summer budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.

Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Penn State students studying through Education Abroad can use most components of their existing financial aid packages toward the cost of study abroad. This may include federal and state grants, VA educational benefits, federal student loans, and University scholarships and grants. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.

For More Information

For more information about programs and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with or contact our Peer Advisers. These study abroad returnees can explain program options, give an overview of the education abroad process, as well as provide information about his/her program. If you are not at University Park, contact your Campus Global Representative

For questions about course content, please contact Robin Yaure. To learn more about the specifics of the program, schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.

For the inside scoop on life in a foreign country, be sure to check out the Student Spotlights of Penn State students currently studying abroad.

How to Apply

If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page. You must complete the following materials in your application:

  •  Education Abroad Questionnaire
  •  Signature Documents
Although the final deadline for the HDFS program is February 1, 2017,  students may be considered by an earlier deadline of December 9, 2016 in order to plan accordingly for the Spring semester.  If students apply by the early deadline, they will be notified of acceptance early.  Any students who do not apply before December 9, will be considered and will receive notification after the February 1, deadline.  Please note that last year, not all students who applied were accepted since there were more applicants than available slots.  We encourage you to apply prior to the early deadline.

Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.

Application deadline: February 1, 2017

Studying Abroad with a Disability

Many students with disabilities successfully study abroad each year. Please note that other cultures may have different attitudes and available accommodations regarding disabilities. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged in consultation with our office, the Student Disability Resources office, and our partners abroad. To prepare for success, students are strongly encouraged to research the country and program location to consider if and how they will manage their disabilities abroad in advance of selecting a program. Students with disabilities and other diverse backgrounds can begin their research on our Diversity Awareness Abroad page.

Other Useful Links

Getting Started
Schedule an Appointment
Cost & Funding
Health & Safety
Parents & Family
Education Abroad Regional Program Brochures

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2017 02/01/2017
02/15/2017 05/08/2017 06/23/2017
NOTE: Start date marks arrival in host country. End date marks departure from program housing.

Indicates that deadline has passed