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  • Locations: Lecco, Italy; Milan, 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.

Similar in size, Philadelphia and Milan both have approximately 1.5 million inhabitants and are excellent case studies for the RUE. Using Milan as the site for this 3-credit ICA, student teams will research a topic they consider to be a crucial aspect to consider for ecosystem management in our cities today to ensure a low-carbon future for our world tomorrow.ICA Italy Lecco Group Photo

Check out last year’s ICA program on Facebook: Responsive Urban Environments
Check out the 2017 ICA program on Facebook: Responsive Façade 2017

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

  • Identify criteria crucial to the health and wellbeing 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 wellbeing.


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 T480/580: Responsive Urban Environments for 3 credits as part of their fall term course load. Students must leave room for the 3 credits in their fall 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 Integrated Buildings Global Classroom during spring term 2019 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 1, 2019
Departure Date: Sunday, September 15, 2019
Students may extend their travel independently after program date but are responsible for all arrangements.

2019 Itinerary ICA Italy Lecco Group Photo

Sunday September 1: TRAVEL DAY
Arrive in Milan – take train to Lecco – check in to Lecco dormitory – chill out – meet for dinner

Monday September 2: Team Forming
Morning: Welcome and Introduction
Afternoon: Discussion Group – student presentations: research topics – team building

Tuesday September 3: MILAN TOUR DAY
Morning: Project Area – Porto Genova District
Afternoon: Historic City (guided tour)

Wednesday September 4: Research and Work Day
Morning: Lecture + Discussion Group
Afternoon: Team Work

Thursday September 5: Research and Work Day
Morning: Team Work
Afternoon: Funicular to Lecco Mountain top

Friday September 6: Research and Work DayICA Italy Lecco Presentations
Morning: Lecture + Discussion Group
Afternoon: Team Work

Saturday September 7: Presentation Day
Morning: “PechaKucha” Middle-term Project Presentations
Afternoon: free

Sunday September 8: LAKE COMO TOUR DAY
Morning: Varenna
Afternoon: Bellagio

Monday September 9: MILAN TOUR DAY
Morning: Porto Nuova District and Bosco Verticale (guided tour)
Afternoon: Prada Foundation (guided tour)

Tuesday September 10: BERGAMO TOUR DAY
Morning: travel to Bergamo
Afternoon: Visit Bergamo (guided tour)

Wednesday September 11: TEAM WORK
Morning: studio
Afternoon: studio

Thursday September 12: TEAM WORK
Morning: studio
Afternoon: studio

Friday September 13: TEAM WORK
Morning: studio
Afternoon: studio

Saturday September 14: FINAL PRESENTATIONS
Afternoon: CELEBRATION – final group dinner

Sunday September 15: TRAVEL DAY
Check out of dormitory – leave Lecco – take train to Milan and airport – fly back to Philadelphia

2019 Program Fee - $1,000

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

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

Included in Program Fee:

  • Two weeks dormitory accommodations in Lecco (2-person occupancy with private bathroom)
  • Transportation to Como, Bellagio, Bergamo, Varenna, and Milan
  • Local transportation within 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.
Course Grading Scale

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:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2019 05/01/2019
05/15/2019 09/01/2019 09/15/2019
NOTE: This program starts during summer term final exam week. Students should contact summer term faculty as early as possible to make arrangements for an early final exam.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.