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Florence, Italy at night

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 your time in Italy, you will complement your studies and appreciation of the Tuscan way of life with a Roman excursion, which will allow you to include a decidedly different Italian lifestyle and attitude in your experience.

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

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Course Description

IE493: Applied Human Factors and Art in Florence
3 credit hours, Mini-term 2021

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.

Students will:

  • 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.

The course is composed of 8 topical modules related to the application of human factors, one group project, and a reflective paper.

Pre-course preparation includes a personal introductory paper and required readings.

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 O’Shaughnessy

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