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Florence Skyline

Applied Human Factors and Art in Italy

As the capital and central city of the Tuscan region, Florence has been a vibrant city for Italian art, architecture, food, culture, trade, and Florentine style since the first century BCE.

Considered the birthplace for the Renaissance and perspective in art, Florence is the perfect location for pairing the study of how our representation of the human form and daily life has progressed over centuries, and relating it to how design, living, work, and our environment have similarly changed. During our time in Italy, we will complement our studies and appreciation of the Tuscan way of life with a Roman excursion, which will allow us to include a decidedly different Italian lifestyle and attitude in our experience. 

Our studies of human factors, ergonomics, anthropometrics, and design, as seen from an Italian point of view will educate and expand our skills and appreciation for the Italian, as well as our own American life.

Program Dates: May 16-June 5, 2024

Course Description

IE493: Applied Human Factors and Art in Florence
3 credit hours, Mini-term 2024

This course will be conducted over three weeks in Florence, Italy, the heart of Tuscany and birthplace of the Renaissance, with several day trips, and a 4-day trip to the ancient capital city of Rome. The course interweaves an understanding of how and why to apply Human Factors principles to improve work and life, gained through the study of Italian manufacturing, products, and living space, with an examination of how the human form and daily life has been represented in various art forms over history.

In the course of the mini-term, we will complement lessons and discussions with guest lectures, facility tours, cultural immersion activities, artistic study, and appreciation of Italian life.

Student Objectives 

  • Develop and enhance Human Factors/Safety knowledge while building practical experience applying theory to solve workplace, design, and human interaction challenges.
  • Gain exposure to these methods in European culture, primarily through instructor-designed content, guest lectures, cultural excursion, and facility visits.
  • Incorporate the study of how the understanding and presentation of the human form and ‘workspace’ (anthropometrics and ergonomics) have changed over history, as presented in various artforms.

Program Activities and Excursions


Cradle of the Renaissance, romantic, enchanting and utterly irresistible, Florence (Firenze) is a place to feast on world-class art and gourmet Tuscan cuisine. In Florence, you will have the opportunity to visit/see the: 

  • Piazza del Duomo, Giotto’s Campanile, Baptistery of St. John, Loggia del Bigalla, and Cathedral 
  • Piazza della Signoria, Pente Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia dei Lanzi, Foundtatin of Neptune, Bargello 
  • Uffizi Palace and Gallery 
  • Palazzo Pitti, Vasari Corridor, and Boboli Gardens 
  • Piazzale Michelangelo and Basilica of Santa Croce 


A heady mix of haunting ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street life, Italy’s hot-blooded capital is one of the world’s most romantic and charismatic cities. In Rome, you will have the opportunity to visit/see: 

  • Rome Historical Center: Spanish Steps, Colnna, Trevi Foundtain, Pantheon, and Piazza de Popolo 
  • Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel 
  • St. John Laetern, Santa Croce in Gurusalemme or St. Louis of the French 
  • Colosseum, the Forum, and Palatine Hill

Course Requirements

  • See Center for Global Engagement Faculty-Directed Program Abroad requirements, and any related governmental obligations
  • Laptop with internet connectivity
  • Cellular phone with international data plan
  • Course textbook to be announced


Laura Knight