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  • Locations: Lecco, Italy
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • Restrictions: Drexel applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Class Eligibility: Graduate, Junior, Pre-Junior, Senior, Sophomore Type of Program: Intensive Course Abroad
Click here for a definition of this term Program Advisor: Ahaji Schreffler
Program Description:
Program Overview | Academics | Program Calendar | Program Fee | More Information

Fall Break in Italy:
Responsive Urban Environments

ICA Italy Lake Como

Program Overview

The Responsive Urban Environment (RUE) looks at the city through the lens of ecosystem management. RUE considers the city as a complex network of interrelated systems that rely on each other to maintain system balance. A dialogue of hardscape to landscape, city infrastructure is comprised of buildings, roads and bridges with respect to green public space, waterways and food access – home to humans, plants and animals, the glue of its ecosystem crossed by issues related to public health, the watershed and biodiversity. Ecosystems themselves are complex adaptive systems that require flexibility and the capacity to respond to environmental feedback to cope with change and uncertainty. The well-tempered RUE is a low-energy sustainable city.

Developing strategies for the RUE is critical to ensure a low-carbon future for our planet. The proportion of the world’s population living in cities has steadily increased over the past century from 14 percent in the year 1900 to 50/50 in 2007. While more people are living in cities than in the countryside today, an estimated 70 percent of people are expected to live in the urban environment by the year 2050 – which is why RUE research is imperative today.

ICA Italy Lecco Group Photo2018 ICA program on Facebook: Responsive Urban Environments
2019 ICA program on Facebook: Responsive Façade 2019

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Identify criteria crucial to the health and well being of city inhabitants;
  • Use Milan as a case study to develop RUE design strategies for Philadelphia;
  • Identify natural and manmade forces crucial to the carbon-neutral urban environment;
  • Use ecosystem management principles to inspire the development of guidelines for the design of sustainable cities;
  • Understand the interconnectedness of urban systems with the natural environment and the aggregate impact of cities across the world on global well being.


Course Requirements
Prior to departure, students will be required to meet with the instructor twice to prepare for the course. Post return, students will submit a well-researched document that uses principles of ecosystem management to guide the development of strategies for the Responsive Urban Environment.

Credit/Registration: Students will be registered for AE T480 / AE 580 / WEST T480: Responsive Urban Environments for 3 credits as part of their fall term course load. Students must leave room for the 3 credits in their credit load when registering for fall term, or will be billed for credits exceeding the 20 credit maximum. Graduate students will be billed for 3 Drexel credits at their normal rate.

Pre-requisite: None. All undergraduate and graduate majors are welcome to apply for this program.

Optional Global Classroom: Students may opt to take AE T480/580 BIOdesign Global Classroom during spring term 2021 where they will collaborate virtually with students from Politecnico di Milano. In this class, students will be introduced to the methodologies and tools used to govern energy, resources and environmental quality decisions for the design and construction of energy-effective buildings that respond to site specific environmental conditions where they will collaborate virtually with students from Politecnico di Milano.

Instructor: This program will be led by Dr. Eugenia Victoria Ellis, AIA (, Associate Professor in the Westphal College and the College of Engineering

Program Calendar

Arrival Date: Sunday, September 5, 2021
Departure Date: Sunday, September 18, 2021
Students may extend their travel independently after program date but are responsible for all arrangements.

2021 Tentative Itinerary ICA Italy Lecco Group Photo

Sunday September 5: TRAVEL DAY
Arrive in Milan – take train to Lecco – check in to Lecco hotel – meet for dinner

Monday September 6: Introduction &Team Building
Morning: Reimagining the built urban environment after COVID-19: design problems and challenges.
Afternoon: Discussion Group; Research topics; Team building

September 7:
Morning: Introduction to the design exercise (a pilot project for a working space after COVID-19). Site visit in Lecco
Afternoon: Team work

September 8:
Morning: Lecture: The future of urban offices
Afternoon: Team Work

September 9: MILAN TOUR DAY

September 10: ICA Italy Lecco Presentations
Morning: Lecture: Healthy spaces for living and working. Lesson learned from the pandemic.
Afternoon: Team Work

September 11: LAKE COMO TOUR DAY
Afternoon: Bellagio

September 12:
Group activity
Afternoon: Free time

September 13:
Morning: Lecture: Biophilia and Healing Environments
Afternoon: Team Work

September 14:
Morning: Lecture: Strategies and technologies for sustainable and healthy built environments
Afternoon: Transfer to Vicenza

September 15: VICENZA
Visit of Villa Schio in Costozza
Visit of la Rotonda by Palladio
Transfer to Lecco

September 16: LECCO
All Day: Team Work

Friday September 17:
Morning: Team Work
Afternoon: Final Presentation at Politecnico di Milano
Evening: Farewell Dinner

Sunday September 18: TRAVEL DAY
Return flight to US

2021 Program Fee - $2,100

Due May 1st: $500 Advance Payment + $25 Application Fee
Due July 1st: $1,600 Final PaymentICA Italy Lecco

*All payments are non-refundable unless declined admission or program cancels for unforeseen reasons.

Included in Program Fee:

  • Hotel accommodations in Lecco (2-person occupancy with private bathroom)
  • Transportation to Venice, Bellagio, Bergamo, Varenna, and Milan
  • Local transportation within Venice, Lecco, and Milan
  • Entry fees for all program activities / tours
  • Lake Como boat ride and group dinner
  • On Call emergency assistance insurance

Not Included in Program Fee (estimated):

  • Round trip airfare ($900)
  • Meals ($600)
  • Passport ($135)
  • Spending money /optional activities ($500)
  • Airport transfers ($36)

More Information

  • US citizens are not required to obtain a visa for entry to Italy. Other nationalities must confirm visa requirement on Italy Embassy website.
  • Students must make their own flight arrangements. A suggested flight itinerary will be provided.
  • This Intensive Course Abroad being offered in September 2021 is dependent upon the viability of travel to Italy as determined by Drexel University administration. Participants may be required to comply with COVID-19-related country entry requirements such as a negative PCR test, proof of the COVID-19 vaccine, etc. All participants will also be expected to follow any COVID-19 protocols as directed by local authorities and Drexel Education Abroad during the period abroad and upon return as appropriate.
  • Course Grading Scale:
Excellent            Good                        Adequate                   Poor                            Insufficient
A+       98+         B+    88-89              C+       78-79               D+       68-69              F    59 or less
A         93-97      B      83-87              C         73-77               D         60-67
A-        90-92      B-     80-82              C-        70-72

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.