Field Studies in Volcanology in Sicily

June 16 – August 4, 2023

Program Application

Field studies and research techniques on the largest Mediterranean island...

This research-based field studies program explores volcanism and the environmental implications of volcanic activity through the study of Mt. Etna and of the Aeolian volcanic archipelago in Sicily: these are among the most active volcanoes in the world, making this region of the Mediterranean the ideal natural laboratory for the study of volcanology and related fields, including sustainable energy and environmental sciences, anthropology and urban studies.  

Students develop and complete fieldwork projects under faculty and researcher guidance, collecting and compiling data related to volcanic and seismic risk assessment and mitigation, geo-resources and geothermal exploration, and volcanic environmental impact. The program provides students the opportunity to gain in-field experience and benefit from a cultural immersion in the Mediterranean, while practicing and honing key skills in gathering and analyzing data from primary sources, as well as developing a coherent and compelling argument in a scholarly manner on complex environmental systems 

This program is ideally suited for students with interests in: 

  • Geology 
  • Earth Science or Environmental Science 
  • Energy and resources 
  • Geophysics, Geosystems 
  • Atmospheric Studies 
  • Anthropology 


University of Pittsburgh students enroll through the Accent/University of California Education Abroad Program in Syracuse, Sicily.  

Courses are developed and conducted by senior researchers from the National Institute of Volcanology and Geophysics (INGV). The program includes a 3-credit volcanology course including a fieldwork component with a 3-day study tour to the Aeolian islands, and 3-credit a research module with a focus on scientific writing.  

The research module allows students to customize the program to their academic interests and goals. Students are assigned research mentors – INGV researchers or University of Catania graduate students – to work in a collaborative manner on real-world issues currently being investigated in Sicily. Custom research projects may draw from many areas, including earth science, geology, geophysics, energy and resources, geography, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, anthropology, food systems, sustainable environmental design, urban studies/city planning, and more. 


Course Offerings

This course explores the many aspects of volcanism on Earth, from the formation of magma below or within the crust to its eruption at the surface, focusing on the volcanism of Mt. Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world and a perfect natural laboratory thanks to its peculiar characteristics. The different types of eruptive styles of volcanoes will be described and explained within their geological and tectonic contexts, with an additional focus on their impact on the local ecosystem and on human activities in the region, through multiple case studies and in-class discussions. A geological excursion to the Aeolian Islands volcanic archipelago will provide an opportunity to further explore modern volcano monitoring techniques, with a particular focus on geophysical and geochemical methods, and of implementing data collection into a research project.  

The aim of this course is to provide students, through a combination of classroom and field-based learning, with knowledge on geophysical, geochemical and petrological monitoring methods of active volcanoes, on the techniques and strategies for analyzing and modeling monitoring data and on their use for the purpose of assessing volcanic hazard. In addition to the lectures, the students are engaged in practical exercises on instrumentation and modeling methods. 

The field trips and site visits also provide context to devote specific attention to the impact of volcanic eruptions on human activities and life, unveiling the close interplay between man and volcanoes around the world and throughout history. 

This field-based research project course allows students to engage in all stages of earth and environmental science field investigations and to gain an understanding of different research methodologies: from design to implementation, through collection and analysis of data that addresses specific research questions, identified independently by each student. The course also allows students to experience collaborative research work with clear objectives and milestones.
Students will draw upon the knowledge and practical skills gained during the “Volcanology of the Mediterranean” course to identify case-studies and research themes of interest to study in-depth, choosing from the wide range of geological and man-made processes and environments which students are exposed to throughout the program.  During the results interpretation stage the attention will be focused on developing skills for reporting field results in the format of scientific publications.  

While the majority of the research work will be self-directed, a research advisor will be assigned to each student, who will provide guidance during scheduled appointments on how to locate resources and collect data, as well as review the appropriateness and feasibility of the research methods and tools in a collaborative manner with the student.  

Earth science and Environmental science disciplines are grounded in observations at all scales, from satellite and drone imagery to microscopic sampling; upon placing the results of such observations into geographic, spatial, and temporal frameworks, conclusions may be drawn about the processes that occur within complex environmental systems, and predictive models may be developed to assess the effect of human interactions. The aim of this course is to provide students with an opportunity to practice and hone key skills in gathering and analyzing data from primary sources, as well as developing a coherent and compelling argument in a scholarly manner. 

Program At A Glance

    Program Price: $5,750

  • 6 Course credits
  • Double room in shared student apartment
  • Guided walking tour of Syracuse
  • Day trip to Catania and visit to INGV (National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanism)
  • Day trips to Mt. Etna
  • Overnight excursion to the Aeolian Islands, including transportation and accommodation
  • Course-specific site visits and guest lectures
  • Pre-departure and overseas orientation program,
  • Overseas Accent on-site staff support in each city
  • 24-hour emergency and counseling support
  • Transferable college credit through University of Pittsburg

    Unique Study Opportunities

  • Study and carry out research projects with leading local experts in volcanology and geology
  • Access to active volcano monitoring rooms, Mt. Etna observatory and research labs at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
  • On-site classes on the slopes of Mt. Etna and of the Aeolian volcanoes, including craters, calderas and lava flows
  • Investigate the risks and potential benefits of living in complex, dynamic environments such as the foothills of Mt. Etna, one of the most densely populated areas in Sicily

Students on this program share a double room in apartments with other University of Pittsburg participants. Apartments are centrally located and close to the Study Center. All apartments are equipped with the following:

  • Washer
  • Wi-Fi
  • Fully-equipped kitchen or Kitchenette
  • Bathroom and Bedroom Linens
  • Heating
  • Microwave and/or oven

Classes will be held at the Accent Center for Field Study in the beautiful Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco Piazza Duomo located in Syracuse’s historic center on the island of Ortygia.

  • Application due: with first payment
  • Final payment due: April 7
  • Departure from U.S.: June 15
  • Arrival in Syracuse: June 16
  • Overseas orientation: June 17
  • Classes begin: June 18
  • Spring break: TBD
  • Return to U.S.: August 4

All participants must check in at the designated arrival point on June 16, 2023 between 9am and 5pm (Note: most transatlantic flights arrive one day after their departure date). Airfare is not included in the program fee. All participants will receive a transit pass.

The Field Studies in Volcanology Program is open to students who are at least 18 years of age at the time of application, have at least a 2.5 GPA and have sophomore, junior or senior standing. There are no prerequisite courses, and no minimum language requirements.

Program space is limited. Students should complete the online application with the $500 non-refundable first payment as soon as possible. Upon receipt of your application and first payment, Accent will provide you with additional application and enrollment forms. Applications must be received by April 1, 2023. Beyond April 1 limited enrollment is allowed when space permits

  • Round-trip airfare
  • University of Pittsburgh fees
  • Personal expenses, passports, visas, books, and anything not listed as included
  • Meals, other than described
  • Travel and Personal property insurance

The health and wellbeing of all students, faculty and staff are paramount to Accent Global Learning. Accent has worked with a Medical Advisor following WHO and local health authority guideline to put protocols in place. Students will learn about Covid-19 related protocols, health resources and local regulations through pre-departure materials and in on-site orientations.

All participants are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Many European sites, restaurants, museums and other venues require proof of vaccination in order to enter.

Should a participant test positive for Covid-19, they will be required to self-isolate at their own expense.

Payment Schedule

Non-refundable first payment – $500
Final payment due April 7, 2022 – $5,250

The payment schedule is the applicant’s contractual obligation. Failure to make each payment when due shall automatically cancel participant from the program one week after payment due date. All payments are effective the day they are received by the Accent U.S. Office. Accent, in its sole discretion, may reinstate an applicant subject to availability of space and late enrollment fees. Accent charges a $30 bounced check fee for each check received that is not promptly paid by your bank in the normal course of business. The program participant shall be the client of Accent for all purposes. The program price is based on 15 participants, the price may change depending on final enrollment.


Cancellation Fees:
70 days or more prior to start of program: $500
45 – 69 days prior to start of program: $1725
15 – 44 days prior to start of program: $2875
0 – 14 days prior to start of program: no refund
All cancellations must be made in writing to Accent and the University of Pittsburgh and are effective the date of receipt by Accent. Participants are liable for payments until written cancellation is received by Accent.

Ready to spend a semester in Syracuse?

Program Application

Accent Global Learning is not responsible for airline delays of any kind, or for expenses or loss incurred as a result of such delays. With regard to transportation/travel, regardless of the type of vehicle, Accent acts for the passenger as agent only. Accent assumes no liability for accident, injury, damage, or loss in any vehicle, or as a result of default by any person or company engaged in transporting the passenger. CST #1013432-40.