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  • Locations: Fiesole, Italy
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • When applications open, you will see an "Apply Now" button. Please check back at a later date.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Language Prerequisite: No Language(s): English
Click here for a definition of this term Type of Program: Area Studies, GU Faculty-Led, GU Villas Non-GU Students May Apply: Yes
Housing Options: Onsite Level of Support: High (Comprehensive onsite support)
Application Deadlines: December, February Fields of Study: Art/Art History, Biology, Chemistry, Neuroscience, Psychology
OGE Advisor: Mia Pezzanite
Program Description:

Georgetown at Villa Le Balze

The Brain and the Experience of Beauty in Art

VLB Beauty Header

At a Glance

Location: Fiesole, Italy

Program Length: 3 weeks
Arrive on: June 28, 2019
Depart on: July 20, 2019

Georgetown welcomes participation in this course from all qualified university students (non-Georgetown students are welcome) with good academic and disciplinary standing.

Number of credits: 3 credits

Program Description

How does your brain react when you gaze upon a beautiful piece of art? Neurologically, what creates the visual perception of beauty? Does an artist make conscious or unconscious decisions when creating a work of art? These are just some of the questions that you will explore in this exciting introduction to the burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics: the study of how the brain experiences beauty when producing and observing visual art.

The course will bridge scientific and humanistic inquiry to explain what allows us to create and ultimately appreciate beauty in art. You will be learn about emerging theories of neuroscience, as well as basic techniques of painting and portraiture, and use elements of each to inform your understanding and practice of the other. The program will feature several trips to other parts of Tuscany and to Rome, and will culminate in a public exhibition of students’ artistic work in partnership with the town of Fiesole.

Georgetown Faculty Director(s): Dr. Norberto Grzywacz (Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) and Ivan Correa (Associate Professor at the National University of Colombia School of Arts and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgetown Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)


The course will explore the foundational questions and theories of neuroaesthetics, a new and inherently interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Through the study of key concepts and theories in neuroscience, Renaissance portraiture, and hands-on experience of painting, students will learn to integrate the emerging scientific understanding of the brain with the technical and creative elements of visual art. Specifically, the course will focus on three main topics:
  1. visual-information processing and its relationship to the experience of beauty in the brain;
  2. the historical role of portraiture in art, and its evolution and development by masters from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century;
  3. the principles of portrait painting using watercolors to produce original artwork to be analyzed scientifically.
Upon successful completion of the program, Georgetown students receive 3 GU undergraduate credits for the following course: UNXP-299-62 Brain & the Experience of Beauty in Art. This course is cross-listed in the Psychology and Art History departments.

Non-Georgetown participants will receive an official transcript from Georgetown for their completion of academic coursework and should discuss transfer of credit with a dean or academic adviser at their home university.


The program includes several organized excursions designed to engage students with major course topics as well as to explore the culture and history of their host country in a direct, hands-on manner. Past excursions have included:
  • Weekend trip to Rome
  • Day-trip to Pisa
  • An afternoon painting trip to the Tuscan countryside


You will live on-site at Georgetown’s historic Villa Le Balze where you will be placed in in double, triple or quadruple rooms with private bathrooms. Visit our website for more information on housing.


All meals are provided and included in the program cost, with the exception of Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch. The majority of these meals will be provided at the Villa and prepared by our on-site cooks. We are able to accommodate most dietary restrictions and students are encouraged to speak with an advisor if they have any concerns.

Program Cost

The program fee for Summer 2019 is $5,495. This amount, billable to your GU student account, includes: tuition, academic fees, accommodations, some meals, program excursions, local public transportation, and supplemental insurance.  The program fee listed above does not include: airfare to/from your program site, passport and visa fees (if applicable), and other individual expenses.

For more information on total costs of this program, please visit the program's budget sheet


The Office of Global Education awards need-based scholarships on a competitive basis to participants on summer study abroad programs. OGE Summer Scholarship awards range from 20% to 50% of billable program cost and are scaled in proportion to program price and demonstrated financial need. Students who are currently receiving financial aid are automatically considered for this scholarship; there is no application process.

OGE advises students to research and pursue a wide range of available funding opportunities. To find scholarships applicable to your program, browse the scholarships section of OGE’s website.

Commitment and Withdrawal Policy

A student’s commitment to a study abroad program confirms his or her intention to participate in that program.  Students who notify the Office of Global Education of their intention to withdraw from their overseas program after the stated Commitment Deadline will be assessed a withdrawal fee of $300, in addition to all non-recoverable costs that have been paid on their behalf, as determined by the Office of Global Education and its overseas partners.  These costs may constitute as much as twenty-five to one hundred percent of the program fee.

A committed student’s decision to withdraw from a study abroad program is effective from the date on which the Office of Global Education receives a written confirmation of the student’s decision to withdraw.  All withdrawal fees and refundable program costs will be calculated from the date the Office of Global Education is notified in writing of this decision.  No refunds will be given for the education abroad insurance fee.  

Georgetown University is not responsible for indirect costs paid directly by the student including, but not limited to, passport fees, vaccinations, and transportation costs.  Georgetown University reserves the right to cancel programs without prior notification; however, every effort will be made to provide participants with information on cancellations in a timely manner.  In the event of a non-voluntary cancellation, Georgetown University will refund application fees as well as all recoverable program costs.

The Office of Global Education is committed to making study abroad accessible to all interested and eligible students. OGE hopes that students with accessibility needs will pursue study abroad opportunities and use the available support services on campus for assistance and advice when necessary.

With over 200 approved-programs, OGE is confident that you will find a program that fits your interests and goals. Programs offer varying degrees of academic and lifestyle support. Please make an appointment with the OGE advisor specializing in your geographic area of interest to discuss how to best support any special needs you might have on programs that may interest you.

To learn more about the resources for students on campus and also for advice on how to request accommodations overseas, please visit the Georgetown Academic Resource Center’s website. Additional support can be found on the Mobility International website.

Contact Information

Office of Global Education
Car Barn, Suite 210
Georgetown University
Washington, DC 20057
(202) 687-5687
Dr. Norberto Grzywacz
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Georgetown University, Car Barn 416
Washington, DC 20057
(202) 687-5603
Prof. Ivan Correa
Postdoctoral Fellow
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Georgetown University
Washington, DC 20057

Useful Links

Villa Le Balze website

Student Voices

Open Application Deadlines & Dates

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

When applications open, you will see an "Apply Now" button. Please check back at a later date.