Field School in Trieste Italy


Trieste Canal ViewCultural Contact Zones - Trieste, Italy


Program Overview

Trieste was once one of the great cosmopolitan port cities of the Mediterranean, with a mixed population of Germans, Slavs, Italians, and Jews, among other groups. As in the rest of Europe, however, the wars of the twentieth century had devastating effects. Today, Trieste is a small city near the edge of Northeastern Italy.  The focus of this field school is the study of cultural contact zones: what happens when borders shift, populations migrate, and cultures collide? Is there an opportunity for collaboration and cooperation? Are cultural values maintained, recreated, or at risk? We will explore these issues through study of the city’s literature, history, geography, art, and architecture.

Trieste presents an excellent case study. Called Tergeste by the Romans, Triest by the German Habsburgs, Trst by Slavs, and Trieste by Italians, the city also reflects its past as a source of contention between the Spanish Habsburgs and the Venetian empire, as well as its historical identity as a free port. It has been called a twilight city by the Scottish writer Peter Davidson, and one the great travel writer Jan Morris has written evocatively of Trieste: “In this city, the lines between fact and fiction, past and present, the explicit and the enigmatic, let alone between one ethnicity and another, always seem to be uncertain.”  We will explore that uncertain space.

Some of the field school activities will include:

  • Guided tours of the city and some secondary sites, including exploration of city architecture and monuments/sites of commemoration
  • Visits to museums such as the Svevo/Joyce Museum, the Revoltella, the Sartorio and the City Museum of Istrian, Fiumian, and Dalmatian Cultures
  • Visits to sites of worship of cultural and architectural note, reflecting the city’s mixed population of Italian Catholics, Greeks, Jews, Slavs, and German Protestants.
  • Visit to the Risiera di San Sabba, a national monument and site of the only World War II concentration camp on Italian soil with a crematorium
  • Day trips to Gorizia/Slovenian border, Villa Opicina (village with strong Slovenian history), and the Grotto Gigante (a massive cave in the limestone karst/corso)
  • Visit to Castle of San Giusto, including Roman ruins
  • Karst/Corso hike along the Strada Napoleonica (Napoleon Way)
  • Tour of Trieste’s historic café culture, with a focus on literary history,
  • Visit to Miramare Castle
  • Ferry trip to Muggia, a traditional fishing village on the Istrian Peninsula.


May 14 - 30, 2017

Trieste Ruins 


Field School fee: $2200.00 (covers accommodations with breakfasts, admission to all sites, tours, travel between Trieste and Gorizia and between Trieste and Muggia)

Additional Expenses

  • Travel on site: approx. $50.00 (covers bus fares in Trieste and bus between airport and Trieste)
  • Airfare: Approximately $1500.00
  • Tuition Fees
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Passport & visa
  • Most meals

Academic Courses

Student course credit: minimum of 6 credits total, comprising the following:

3 Credits of English

Students may choose to take either ENGL 222: Travels in World Literature or ENGL 327: International Literature. All students will read a novel set in Trieste by Croatian novelist Daša Drndić and shorter selections from authors connected to Trieste: Jan Morris, Boris Pahor, Italo Svevo, Umberto Saba, and Claudio Magris. There will also be some academic essays about the city assigned. All students will write a research paper and a reading/travel journal; as well, all will be expected to provide discussion questions to lead our study of assigned texts and participate in online discussion. Students who choose credit for ENGL 327 will read an additional text by one of Pahor, Svevo, or Magris and write an additional paper.

3 Credits of Geography

Students may choose to take either:

GEOG 488: Environmental Aesthetics, which examines the appearance, meaning, and value of landscapes from geographic perspectives; or

GEOG 467: Field Studies in Geography I, which provides an opportunity to apply geographic perspectives, methods, and techniques in a field-based research setting. 

Students who wish to complete 9 credits of work have the additional option of taking either ENGL 490: Capstone Project or GEOG 490: Directed Studies in Geography (each 3 credits)

Note: There will be scheduled class time on the Nanaimo campus before and after the time in Trieste: 9 hours scheduled between the start of Intersession and departure for Trieste, and 6 hours scheduled after all field school participants have returned to BC.          


Trieste Pier                                                                                                                                          

Admission Requirements

Those taking the field school for credit must be in good academic standing and meet the course requirements for ENGL 222 (6 credits of first-year English) or ENGL 327 (6 credits of second-year English literature) AND GEOG 488 (third year standing) or GEOG 467 (prerequisite: GEOG 324), or gain permission from the instructor.

Application Process

All applicants are asked to supply a statement of interest and contact information for two academic references to either:  Terri Doughty (, English department or Pam Shaw (, Geography department.     

Application deadline: November 22, 2016 (Statement of Interest and 2 academic references)

VIU students have priority. Students from other institutions may also apply. If seats are available after November 22, 2016, community members may be able to register as not-for-credit participants. All non-VIU-student participants must obtain admission to VIU as a visiting students.

Non-Refundable $500 Deposit Deadline:  December 7, 2016 (payable through the VIU student record) VIU does not accept credit card payments for field schools.

All participants will be required to submit the following travel documentation to Education Abroad prior to departure. Please fill out the on-line Education Abroad form at: Education Abroad Application Form

  •  Acknowledgement of Responsibility waiver and Cancellation forms.(Waiver and Cancellation forms) 
  • Passport (Passport must be valid until 6 months after your return date. If your passport is "in process" please indicate that with your application.)
  • Flight itinerary 
  • Travel medical insurance document


Field school deposits & payments are made online through the student record after the charge has been applied to the student record.

Payment Schedule

The total Field School fee is $2200. VIU does not accept credit card payments for field schools.




Non-refundable deposit


December 7

Payment 1


February 15

Payment 2


March 27  

Financial Assistance

  • International Education Stipend - The International Education Department at VIU encourages Education Abroad by providing eligible VIU Students with an International Education Award of $350. Conditions apply. International Education Stipend 
  • StudentAid BC - Students on the BC student assistance Program (BCSAP) may be able to continue their funding to include Education Abroad. Those not currently receiving BCSAP funding, may be able to apply. Contact Financial Aid in Building 200 for more information.
  • One World International Scholarship Program - The overall purpose of this scholarship is to increase the participation by undergraduate students from public post-secondary institutions in B.C. in academic, experiential and work-related study abroad programs outside Canada to develop a more globally literate citizenry and workforce in the province. Scholarships will range from $1000 to $3500. Read the eligibility criteria carefully before applying. Application deadlines: March 27, 2016 and November 20, 2016

Learn more about Education Abroad FundingEntrance



Terri Doughty

English Department

Building 345, Room 232


Dr. Pam Shaw

Geography Department

Building 305, Room 464


Education Abroad Assistant

Building 255, just outside room 264