• Student holding UNI flag with blue sea in background

    Capstone in Southern Italy

  • Colosseum

    Capstone in Southern Italy

  • Students in Cave

    Capstone in Southern Italy

  • Sorrento coastline

    Capstone in Southern Italy


This program will tentatively be offered again in summer 2023. Please check back at the start of the fall 2022 semester in order to apply! 

This course offers the opportunity for students to obtain a fundamental understanding of the relationship between humans, their environment, and the role interdisciplinary scientific research plays in not only the understanding of our past, but using this knowledge to plan for a sustainable future. It is an excellent opportunity for students of all majors. 

Join us in Southern Italy to investigate the environmental and social-political implications of climate change in a hands-on, experiential way.

This was the most amazing experience full of a lot of education and fun. While getting to travel around Italy and Sicily, I learned so many important and amazing things about not only the Italian culture, but the world as well. I would not trade this experience that I had for the world. - Bailey, 2019

I would absolutely recommend this program to others. Chad is an amazing instructor who cares about the students having a good time. He is super flexible and listens to our inputs. The activities were also awesome! Climbing volcano, eating great food, and seeing amazing art and history were all highlights of the trip. - Wesley, 2019 

I highly recommend the Capstone in Southern Italy to any student. It was an amazing experience that involved exploring Italian cities, hopping through Mediterranean islands, and meeting so many new people. Chad does a fantastic job of helping everyone settle in to the new environment and explaining the history of all the places we pass. The class topics are always interesting, focusing on yourself, society, and the environment. Even with the itinerary, there's plenty of time to roam the cities/towns with friends to get a more personal feel rather than in the big group. Such an amazing opportunity to grow and learn... three weeks I'll always remember! - Kyle, 2019 


The below map shows the program's overnight locations and does not include sites visited during day trips.

Course Leaders

Chad Heinzel, Professor

Department: Earth & Environmental Sciences
Phone: 319-273-6168
Campus Address: LAT 116

Chad has traveled to Sicily and southern Italy over 20 summers, conducting research and leading undergraduate to graduate student field schools. He loves sharing his passion for the region with students and looks forward to taking students abroad again next summer!

One of Chad's favorite quotes: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


CAP 3140: Environment, Technology, and Society (2 credit hours) and EARTHSCI 3410/5410: Field Studies in the Geoarchaeology of Sicily (1 credit hour).

Through this capstone, students will investigate the environmental and subsequent sociopolitical implications of climate change upon Mediterranean cultures. Students learn by exploring archeological sites and geologic exposures. Along the way, students will gain an understanding of Sicily's cultural past, present, and future then apply this knowledge to their own education/life!

The cultural center of this course will focus on the Mediterranean (including the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans). Students will explore medieval castles, walk through Greek temples, swim in the Mediterranean Sea, climb an active volcano (Stromboli), eat some amazing Italian food, summit the top of the world's largest church (St. Peter's Basilica in Rome), create their own adventures in the Roman Colosseum, and much more! 

To view the syllabus for the summer coursework, click HERE (summer 2022 coursework will be similar)


  • In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program s course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study.
  • Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
  • Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
  • Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken this capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.


Tentative Program Dates: May - June, 3 weeks

Sample itinerary is subject to change.

Day 1: Arrive in Rome; informal walking tour of the city 

Day 2: Visit Roman Forum and Coliseum

Day 3: Visit the Spanish Steps and Pantheon 

Day 4: Explore Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel - St. Peter's Basilica, Treasury Museum

Day 5: Travel to Florence; informal walking tour of the city

Day 6: Explore the food market, then visit the Academia Gallery, home to Michelangelo's sculpture David

Day 7: Visit Uffizi Gallery, one of the most visited galleries in the world and home to many works from the Italian Renaissance

Day 8: Free day to visit sites such as the Piazza del Duomo & Duomo (Florence Cathedral, one of the largest in the world)

Day 9: Flight to Sicily; travel to Trapani 

Day 10: Day trip to Erice, The City of Love and Science

Day 11: Day trip to Levanzo island and prehistoric cave, Grotta del Genovese

Day 12: Day trip to Segesta, the most well-preserved Greek-style temple in the world

Day 13: Day trip to Favignana island, where students will explore the island by bicycle 

Day 14: Flight to Rome, then bus to Naples

Day 15: Activities in Naples, including National Archaeological Museum of Naples

Day 16: Visit Mt. Vesuvius and the archeological site of Pompeii, a Roman city buried in ash and stone by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. 

Days 17 - 18: Activities near Naples, including olive oil factory visit/tasting and cooking class

Day 19: Return to Rome; free afternoon

Day 20: Depart for home

*Expect up to 15 miles per day of walking/hiking in occasionally hilly or mountainous terrain.

Participant Info

Important information to review:

  • Review the roles of the Advisee and the Advisor under the main menu Get Started

Entry and Exit Requirements 

  • Review and follow the travel recommendations of the CDC for Italy
  • Monitor appropriate websites for updates and information about COVID or other emergencies before departing and while in the destination country. The U.S. Embassy for Italy provides updates that can be found on their website

Housing & Meals

Students will stay in hotels or hostels arranged by the Study Abroad Center and paid for before departure. Whenever possible, housing will be apartment style for immersion into the Italian lifestyle. Most meals are built into the cost of the program. Students will pay for the remaining meals out-of-pocket while abroad and are encouraged to try the local foods.

Program Costs

Capstone in Southern Italy

Estimated Program Cost:


* estimated total cost of participation, actual amount depends on type of housing accommodation selected, actual airfare purchase price, personal spending habits, and other factors

Click Below to View Detailed Budget Sheet:

Cost of studying on-campus*

*per semester, estimated, will vary per person

Tuition & Fees:


Room & Board:




Personal Expenses:






Source: https://admissions.uni.edu/costs

Dates & Deadlines



Eligibility Requirements to Study Abroad

The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must have a completed study abroad application, including supportive recommendation form(s). Additionally, students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:

  • Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
  • If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
  • Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
  • Must be over the age of 18 years old
  • Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
  • Must be in good standing with the University
  • UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements, if applicable.
  • Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
  • All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
  • Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.