Mediterranean Ecosystems: Studies in Earth Science

Sicily is a living laboratory for field studies
in volcanology, marine ecology, geology, and the impact of the environment on human development. Design your signature semester or summer program with Accent.


Together with U.S. partners, Syracuse Academy, local faculty, and research institutes in Sicily, Accent is developing various new program models and courses that explore earth science disciplines through field studies and experiential learning. Sicily is a natural laboratory. From the volcanic activity of Mount Etna in the north, to the Plemmirio Marine Reserve in the south, students will explore this dynamic Mediterranean environment, in-situ, through programming in volcanology, marine ecology, sustainability and agriculture, and more.

Mt. Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and a perfect natural laboratory for the study of volcanism, whether learning volcano monitoring techniques and studying geochemistry, exploring the impact of volcanic eruptions on human activity and history, or analyzing links between volcanos, agriculture and nutrition. Through on-site lectures on Mt. Etna, meetings with researchers, and field work, students learn about the volcano’s history, types of eruptions, eruptive products and the long-term beneficial effects of its activity on human life. Sicily is also home to the Aeolian volcanic archipelago, where students are led by expert volcanologists to hike the Great Crater and fumaroles of Vulcano island as well as to view the active volcano on Stromboli island from both land and sea.

Programs and courses are developed in collaboration with the Catania-based team of the National Institute of Volcanology and Geophysics (INGV). The organization is responsible for monitoring and surveying volcanic activity in the Etna area, as well as devising and implementing safety protocol for related research activity.

Marine Ecology
While the Mediterranean basin represents less than 1% of the planet’s ocean area, it is one of the world’s most complex marine ecosystems, providing unmatched opportunities for the study of coastal and marine biodiversity. The small, semi-closed sea has an abundance of islands and underwater beds and is also a major area of wintering, reproduction and migration. It is also among the most polluted and overfished marine areas on Earth. Hands-on coursework in and around Syracuse challenges students to analyze rich and diverse biota, past geological events, contemporary challenges including coastal urbanization and biological invasion, and the variety of climatic and hydrologic conditions that characterize the Mediterranean Sea.

Workshops, research projects, and study tours will be designed in collaboration with the following local partners, each dedicated to research, conservation activities, and advocacy. Organizations are located throughout Sicily, as well as in Malta, less than two hours by ferry:

  • Plemmirio Marine Reserve – Syracuse, Sicily
  • Filicudi Wildlife Conservation – Aeolian Islands, Sicily
  • AquaBioTech, fisheries development group – Valletta, Malta
  • International Ocean Institute, research and advocacy – Valletta, Malta


To discuss your college or university’s programming objectives and begin designing your program, contact us at