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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 T441/541 BIOdesign Global Classroom during spring term 2022 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 4, 2022
Departure Date: Sunday, September 18, 2022
Students may extend their travel independently after program date but are responsible for all arrangements.

2022 Tentative Itinerary - Click here for a more in-depth itineraryICA Italy Lecco Group Photo

September 4, Sunday (Lecco Campus) – WELCOME TO DREXEL STUDENTS
Arrival and check-in at the Adolf Loos Students Dorm
Welcome Apéro with buffet dinner in Lecco @Imbarcadero
September 5, Monday (Lecco Campus)
Welcome and RUE Workshop Introduction; Lecturers: Eugenia V. Ellis, Giuliana Iannaccone
Students present themselves; Team building
Walking tour around Lecco and ascent to the bell tower (400 steps!)
September 6, Tuesday (Lecco city)
Site visit to the project area
The Gerenzone River, the historical district of Laorca and the masterplan for the new lake promenade.
(in collaboration with Laorca Lab)
September 7, Wednesday (Lecco Campus)
Lecture + discussion: “THE ECOLOGICAL FUTURE OF CITIES”, Guest Lecturer; Teamwork
September 8, Thursday (Tour of Chiavenna)
Train to Chiavenna; Historical Center of Chiavenna– walking tour
Lunch break in a traditional “crotto”; Visit to the Park “Marmitte dei Giganti” (Giants’ Pots)
September 9, Friday (Lecco Campus)
Teamwork; Mid-term presentation; Social dinner
 ICA Italy Lecco Presentations
September 10, Saturday (Tour on the Lake)
Visit of Bellagio – walking tour; Boat and and tour of Tremezzina
September 11, Sunday (Tour of neighbouring city)
Visit of Bergamo – walking tour
September 12, Monday (Lecco Campus)
Guest Lecturer; Teamwork
September 13, Tuesday (Lecco Campus)
Guest Lecturer; Teamwork
September 14, Wednesday (Tour of Milan)
Train to Milan
From Piazza Duomo to Navigli – walking tour
Visit of the Porta Nuova District
AFTERNOON FREE IN MILAN (with suggested itineraries)
September 15, Thursday (Lecco Campus)

September 16, Friday (Lecco Campus)
Exhibition set-up' Final presentation
Farewell dinner
September 17, Saturday
Check-out and travel day

2022 Program Fee - $1,450

Due May 1st: $500 Advance Payment + $25 Application Fee
Due July 1st: $950 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 Chaivenna, Tremezzina, and Milan
  • Local transportation within Chaivenna, Tremezzina, and Milan
  • Entry fees for all program activities / tours
  • 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 2022 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. Students must be up-to-date on COVID vaccines in order to attend this program.
  • 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.