By Greg Laudani
Benvenuto al una nuova epoca.
That means, “welcome to a new era” in Italian.
The UNH Department of Classics, Humanities, and Italian Studies has officially unveiled a shiny new Italian Studies major, which is now available to all students starting this semester. There has never been a major of this kind at UNH in university history.
Amy Boylan, associate professor of Italian Studies at UNH, said there are countless benefits to studying a foreign language. She said one of those rewards is how students can use this particular major to expand their understanding of language, history and culture in Italy.
Boylan asserted that the major is going to help students far more than simply learning more about Italy.
“You grow as a human being when you study a different language and culture,” Boylan said. “I think it allows for a lot of personal growth and reflection.”
A number of students have already declared the major, according to Boylan, including senior Evan Bruno. Now a double major in political science and Italian Studies, Bruno declared the new major as soon as it was established prior to the beginning of the current fall semester.
Bruno spent the entire past academic year in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, studying with the UNH-in-Italy Program. He said he is very excited that UNH has developed the major so the influence of Italy can spread wider throughout campus.
After returning from a year in Ascoli Piceno, Bruno wants more UNH students to gain a similar love and appreciation for Italy that he has developed. Bruno said the Italian studies major is going to be a big help toward increasing interest in Italy.
“Italy has so much to offer, like language, culture, wine, music, history, and of course food,” he said.
Boylan said students who major in Italian studies are going to learn critical thinking and writing skills–skills many liberal arts concentrations provide. The associate professor added, however, that Italian studies majors will gain distinct communication skills that other disciplinary areas cannot give students.
“It allows you to interact more deeply, openly and meaningfully with people from other linguistic backgrounds and other cultural backgrounds,” Boylan said. “That’s great for you and it’s great for the world.”
Diving deeper into the usefulness of majoring in Italian studies, Bruno spoke highly of the value of being bilingual. Bruno is fluent in English and has taken all of the Italian language courses offered at UNH. He said that being bilingual or multilingual is a life skill that can be useful in careers throughout many industries around the United States and abroad.
Boylan echoed Bruno’s praises of learning a second language. The associate professor said that Italian studies majors are going to have an upper hand over other job applicants because of their heightened overall communication skills.
“You have a deeper understanding of what it means to communicate, which is something that many future employers of UNH students say is a really valuable skill for prospective employees to have,” Boylan said.
Another reason why Boylan believes the major is important is because of the crucial significance Italy’s economy has to the rest of the world. She said Italy is an important country for individuals to study due to its substantial global influence in several key areas.
“They are best known for their artistic achievements of the past and their food obviously,” Boylan said. “But they are also leading in things like medicine, technology and manufacturing.”
The Italian dtudies major is composed of classes teaching Italian culture, history, literature and cinema in addition to the Italian language. Students must complete 10 courses and be proficient through Italian 632, which is the most advanced Italian language course at UNH.
Part of the major requirements is also to take elective classes such as Italian Cinema or Renaissance Art in Italy, which touch on many of the country’s history in addition to its culture.
Response to the new major has been highly positive for avid students of Italian like senior Marisa Malone.
Malone, who spent three months in Ascoli Piceno, Italy with UNH-in-Italy last year, has been taking Italian studies courses at UNH since her freshman year in Durham. The senior said the newly-implemented major has been a long-time coming.
Before the new major was created, students interested in pursuing Italian studies as a major needed to create what was called a Student Design Major (SDM). SDMs gives students the opportunity to make their own course schedules in order to concentrate their studies on a subject that did not have an existing major at the university.
SDMs still exist at UNH and require students to submit proposals to the university in order to receive permission to declare a particular SDM. Now that is not necessary for students who are hungry to study Italian language and culture.
“I think it’s great that there is finally an Italian major at UNH,” she said. “I think it will bring UNH students more opportunities to experience culture and give the Italian (Studies) Department more opportunities to offer different classes and experiences to students.”