Seton Hall University

Rome Connection a Great Success!  

Students standing at the Duomo In Orvieto, Italy

Students stand in front of the Duomo Orvieto, Italy.

Inside the Core, we are excited to share the experience of our first Rome Connection Core II classes, who returned recently, as the excursion lasted for a full two weeks (May 17 to June 1) . This spring four sections of Core II, consisting of sixty students altogether, completed the experiential part of their semester in Rome. Students were led around Rome and its environs by their professors (Nathan Oates of the English Department, Todd Stockdale of the Core and Core II Coordinator, Kelly Shea of the English Department and Director of First Year Writing, and Douglas Cantelmo, Interim Director of International Programs and Program Director, Rome Connection), who were assisted by additional faculty: Greg Floyd of the Core; Timothy Hoffman of the CCRE, focusing on the service aspects of the program; and Fr. Nicholas Sertich, Campus Minister and chaplain for Rome Connection. The students visited a variety of places linked to what they have been studying in Core II. They also actively participated in service learning, during the spring semester, culminating in service in Rome.

Study Abroad Students in St. Peter's Square

A group photo at St. Peter's Square taken by Todd Stockdale

Core II itself offers a journey, from ancient texts, such as the New Testament and other early Christian writings (those of Perpetua, Justin Martyr, Tertullian), as well as Plato’s Crito, moving through medieval writers like Thomas Aquinas, Moses Maimonides, Ibn Rushd, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich, to more modern writers like Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Pope Francis (Laudato Si) and others. These students enhanced these readings by seeing sites like the Church of San Clemente (dating back to early Christian times), the Colosseum, the Vatican, and Orvieto, to name only a few examples. They served the homeless in Saint Peter’s Square, and some (Professor Shea’s students) joined the Sant’ Egidio community in Rome to serve at a soup kitchen and eat at their restaurant. Most of all, the whole group shared fellowship and the excitement and evocative power of Rome and its surroundings with each other and the accompanying faculty, all of them passionate about participating in this experience.

Fr. Nicholas Sertich, Timothy Hoffman, Todd Stockdale and Nathan Oates in Rome

Fr. Nicholas Sertich, Timothy Hoffman, Todd Stockdale and Nathan Oates

Several of the faculty have shared their impressions of Rome Connection (as well as their photos, some of which accompany this article):

Greg Floyd, Ph.D., Core Fellow: "The Rome Connection program offered participating students an unparalleled opportunity to experience the traditions, figures, themes, and ideas of our Core Courses throughout the city of Rome and neighboring regions of Italy. Two weeks of experiential learning at its finest—seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting—the diverse ways that human thought and, in particular, the Catholic tradition, take shape in time and space, in stone and architecture, in culture, language, and food!"

Kelly Shea, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, Director of First Year Writing: “Rome Connection is an excellent way for first-year students to learn more about the texts they studied in CORE II - AND CORE I - and also to learn about how study abroad works - as well as many other lessons about the intersections of history, religion, and service. We all have some ideas on how to make it even better next year, but this is the most organized and meaningful pilot course I’ve ever seen. Kudos to Doug and all my colleagues and to the students.”

Todd Stockdale, Ph.D., Core Fellow and Core II Coordinator: “I could not have imagined a more meaningful experience for our students. Rome brought to life the texts in Christianity and Culture in Dialogue—offering an historical and material engagement with so many of the ideas we encounter through our Signature Curriculum.”

Fr. Nick Sertich, Campus Minister and Honors instructor: “For 167 years, Seton Hall has been a home for the mind, heart, and spirit for generations of young adults, and the Core is an excellent example of shaping the lives of our students by broadening their horizons and encouraging them to ask new questions and seek new answers. As part of the Core, Rome Connection did more than simply expose students to a new country, but engaged the fullness of their minds, hearts, and spirits in a city that epitomizes Christianity and culture in dialogue. Through a variety of experiences, students were given the opportunity to engage the city from the perspectives of history, religion, and service, undeniably helping shape their minds, hearts, and spirits and fulfilling the mission for which Seton Hall and the Core stand.”

Group photo at La Trattoria de Gli Amici

Group photo at La Trattoria de Gli Amici taken by Kelly Shea

Travel of any kind is extremely enriching and enlarging of the heart. Specifically, travel to Italy has impacted many significant people over time, most notably for us, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Bishop Bailey (her nephew, who founded Seton Hall), as well as Saint John Henry Newman, to name just a few; (you might do a search on Google about each of their stories regarding Italy to find out more). We are grateful that the Core has been the academic home for this very important initiative of travel to Italy for our students, and we look forward to developing this program for further study abroad opportunities in the future. As the preparatory program to help students get ready for the trip puts it, “Andiamo!”

Categories: Arts and Culture