The Power of Place: Facing the Challenges of On-Site Teaching and Researching


March 9-10, 2012 | RiponCollege, Ripon, Wisconsin

Conference Organizers: Tom Sienkewicz (Capron Professor of Classics, Monmouth College), Diane Mockridge (Professor of History, Ripon College), and Tim Chasson (Professor of Art History, Grinnell College)

Overview: The conference — an opportunity for collaboration between those who have been visiting faculty at off-campus programs and those who desire to be — will provide a forum to share innovative on-site activities that have enriched experiences of both faculty and students; a key goal is to examine how pedagogical models generated for the Florence program can also be applied to other ACM programs.

Narrative:The ACM Florence Programs are two of the oldest and longest-lasting international study programs offered by the ACM. Janet Smith's career with these programs has spanned nearly their entire history until her retirement in 2010. For this reason, the occasion of her retirement is an appropriate moment to look back at scholarship and pedagogy that has emerged from faculty involvement in this program and to use these experiences to look ahead for ways to meet the ever-changing challenges of teaching and researching on-site in locations like Florence. Thus a particular goal of our proposal is that pedagogical models generated for our Florence programs can also be applied to other ACM programs.

The catalyst for this proposal is the publication of a Festschrift in Honor of Janet Smith with contributions by Janet's ACM faculty colleagues, administrators, and former students in honor of a long-time resident director of the ACM Florence Programs. Some of these contributions are academic studies on Renaissance art history, classics, history and Italian life. Others are pieces of creative writing generated from the Florence experiences of program participants. Yet others are directly pedagogical reflections on the challenges of teaching on-site in Florence. The Festschrift gives concrete form to the work faculty and others have done in and around Florence.

In conjunction with the publication of the Festschrift, this conference will provide the setting for both conversations about the challenges of faculty development in locations like Florence and opportunities to explore innovative ways to teach a wide range of subject matter in any number of on-site locations. The conference, in brief, offers an opportunity to share with participants in the consortium and beyond innovative on-site activities that have enriched experiences of both students and faculty. Presenters who have served as visiting directors or professors in Florence would share what they learned about teaching per se, what they learned about Italy (and related subjects) through teaching on-site, and what they learned about instructing almost any class off-campus. In this way the conference seeks especially to offer a specific context for collaboration among those who have been visiting faculty and others who desire to be. Since faculty development through networking is one of our core concerns, prospective visiting professors for Florence and other locations are warmly invited to join this opportunity to meet, share ideas, and begin formulating concepts for courses and effective ways to teach them on location.

This conference is open to a variety of constituencies, including contributors to the Festschrift,faculty advisors of Florence Programs, faculty connected with other ACM international programs, other interested faculty from ACM institutions, ACM administrators, and


Conference Calendar:

The conference begins on Friday, March 9, 2012 at 5:00 P.M. with a reception hosted by Ripon College and concludes at 1 P.M. on Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Conference Highlights:

  • Keynote address by Janet Smith
  • Panel of student alumni of the Florence programs
  • Short presentations by a former visiting Florence faculty and other participants.

Accommodations, meals and travel expenses will be provided for up to two attendees chosen from each ACM participating school.

ACM Deans should submit the names of symposium participants to Tom Sienkewicz ( or 309-457-2371) by Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Please contact Dr. Sienkewicz for further information.