Assistant professor of Italian in the department of Romance languages, Paola De Santo combines the study of language and culture through innovative courses, study abroad and internship opportunities:
I am an assistant professor of Italian in the department of Romance languages, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. I currently teach undergraduate and split-level (undergraduate/graduate) courses in Italian, mostly at the 3000 and 4000 level, but occasionally at the lower levels as well. I also have developed a study abroad program in collaboration with UGA’s residential center in Cortona, Italy; this program, called “UGA in Italiano,” affords students an immersion experience by living with local families in Cortona as well as intensively studying the language and culture of Italy. Another endeavor of which I am particularly proud and excited is an internship program I established in collaboration with a network of public schools in the province of Brescia, in northern Italy. Through this program, students act as English language assistants in schools across the area, perfect their Italian language skills and gain critical cultural competency by living with local Italian families—and even get compensated for this unique experience! This academic year, eight UGA undergraduate students studying Italian will participate in the program, and I cannot wait to hear about their experiences.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I arrived at UGA in fall 2014. I was thrilled to come to UGA since the Italian section of the Romance languages department was looking for a new faculty member whose expertise remarkably matched my own. Not only would I be able to teach upper-division courses in my area of specialization, early modern Italy, but also have the opportunity to develop innovative courses that combine the study of language and culture. Additionally, the enthusiasm in the department for the development of an immersion study abroad program in Italy was particularly attractive.
I also really enjoy teaching the third and fourth year “conversation and composition” courses (ITAL 3010 and 4010), whose structure allow me the freedom to design thematic courses to encourage advanced expression while learning about fascinating aspects of contemporary Italian literature and culture, such as the hugely popular the “giallo” (mystery novel) and its derivatives, as well as the correlation between food and knowledge in all aspects of Italian cultural production.
And, I also adore teaching elementary Italian language courses. The enthusiasm beginning students have for Italy and its language is reinvigorating, as is the exponential growth in language competency that is characteristic of this level.
A Willson Center Faculty Fellow and winner of the Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research, De Santo is an Italian studies scholar who truly personifies the liberal arts learning environment - intellectually inquisitive and engaged, an inspiring teacher and active member of our community. We appreciate her contributions to the culture of learning and glad she has made UGA her home.