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International Social Work: An Italian Perspective

International Social Work: An Italian Perspective
The program will focus on the political, economic, and historical context of Italy as it impacts social work education and the delivery of social services.
Milan, Italy
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
Social Work
Graduate Courses
Program Type: 
Fulfills KU Core 4.2
Open to non-KU Students
Faculty Led
  • Visit social service agencies in Italy that address mental health, children and family, and immigration issues
  • ​Program includes excursions to Lake Como and Rome
Program Summary: 

This 12-day program offers students the opportunity to gain an international perspective on social work through lectures, field trips to social service agencies, and presentations by social work faculty from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. The program will focus on the political, economic, and historical context of Italy as it impacts social work education and the delivery of social services. Students will visit social service agencies that address mental health, social work with children and families, public health, government and community-based social work practice, aging, and immigration issues. In addition to daily seminars and site visits, students will have the opportunity to travel to significant cultural and historical sites in Milan, Florence and the Lake Como region.


Milan is the second largest city in Italy with a population of about 1.35 million people. The city is one of Italy's most fashionable cities and one of the richest cities in Europe but it also holds several historic and artistic attractions, including the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Last Supper painting, and the famous La Scala Opera House. Travelers to Milan will find a fast-paced, glamorous city with a thriving cultural scene and a top city for shopping. Although the city was heavily bombed during World War II, much of it was rebuilt.

Academic Information: 

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC)

Established in 1921, the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore is the biggest private university in Europe and the biggest Catholic university in the world. Originally a monastery built by Benedictine monks in the 8th century, the UCSC Milan main campus is characterized by the façade entrance constructed by famed Italian architect Giovanni Muzo, the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, the atrium of the zodiac, as well as the Great Hall. The campus is nestled within the original city walls of Milan. UCSC was granted five stars by QS stars, a global university rating system, in employability, teaching, infrastructure, and engagement.

Academic program

Students will enroll in 3 credit hours of SW 560, SW 855 or SW 955.

Two formal class sessions will take place in Lawrence, Kansas, one prior to departure and one upon return. These lectures will provide background information on Italian history, language, culture, and customs in Italy. In Italy, the lectures and field placement visits will provide an overview of the Italian social service system. The impact of history, global economics, religion and culture on social policy and practice in Italy will also be presented.

Credit notes

Pre-Social Work and BSW students can use the course towards a general education requirement or as elective credit.

• 1st year MSW students can enroll in this course after they have completed all foundation level requirements and apply the credit towards advanced level coursework.

• MSW students can use this course towards the elective in the Clinical Concentration or towards the Advanced Social Administration selective for the SWAAP Concentration.

• Ph.D. students can use the course as elective credit.

Social work students should contact Dr. Terry Koenig (tkoenig@ku.edu) in the School of Social Welfare for more information.

Students from other KU majors or universities should contact their academic advisor for information about how this might meet requirements.

Life Abroad: 


May 17:  Arrive in Milan, orientation and welcome dinner
May 18-20:  Lectures, discussions and visits of social service agencies
May 21: Visit Como
May 22: Visit Bergamo
May 23-25: Lectures, discussion and visits of social services agencies
May 26-28: Visit Rome and departure dinner
May 29: Return to US


Open to BSW, MSW, and Ph.D. students in the School of Social Welfare; open to graduate students in related fields. Minimum 2.5 GPA required (exceptions considered after submission of petition).

There are no language requirements.

Community professionals may also take this course as part of the School’s Professional Community Education Program.

Program Faculty: 

Social Welfare Study Abroad Scholarships

The Dean of the School of Social Welfare has scholarships available for students admitted into the KU School of Social Welfare.  All students who submit a complete Study Abroad program application by the deadline will be considered for the scholarships.  Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of academic merit and financial need.

For more information contact:

Terry Koenig, Associate Professor
School of Social Welfare
Phone: 785-864-2656
e-mail: tkoenig@ku.edu 

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undergraduate students only.
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MSW Students
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Graduate students only.
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Spring 2022 programs now accepting applications !

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