Digging into gardens of Italy, at honors symposium

030613Feature_ItalyGardens2When a UNCG undergraduate like Mary Piepmeier gets questioned in front of an audience about Italian history, she doesn’t get nervous. She knows her topic inside and out. The gardens of the powerful Medici family of Renaissance Italy may sound distant and remote to most people. But she has walked them, strolled them, examined them. Spent hours soaking them up.

A UNCG summer experience in Florence will do that.

In any of the Medici gardens, you look down on a vista, she told one person questioning her about a garden. It’s as if the Medici’s were stating: “This is mine. I am ruling this.”

Piepmeier’s presentation was “The Medici Gardens: Microcosms of Divine Rule.”

Suzanne Tisdell and Samantha Way also presented research during the same session at the Lloyd International Honors College Honors Symposium Feb. 22. The most meaningful experience on the trip for Way – who presented on “The Pageantry of Propaganda: Medici Appropriation of Public Court Ceremonies” – was experiencing the San Giovanni Festival in person.

Piepmeier loved that she lived and studied in Florence that month as a resident, not as a tourist. She could visit the gardens in and around the city again and again. She explained that on Sunday mornings, you could have the famed Boboli Gardens virtually to yourself.

About 20 art students took part in the UNCG June 2012 study trip to Florence. The students were led by Dr. Heather Holian, Dr. Lawrence Jenkens and Barbara Campbell.

Holian, a Renaissance art historian, reflected a moment after the three students made presentations and fielded questions.

She greatly enjoys this symposium and the Undergraduate Expo each year. “You really see star students strut their stuff.”

And she valued the opportunity of watching the undergraduates enjoy Florence for the first time. It was the first time she’d taken a group to Italy. She loved showing students her favorite spaces in the city. And seeing them make their own discoveries – seeing their eyes open wide when they saw a favorite painting in front of them.

A great feeling for a teacher. And eye-opening for her as well.

“Like seeing Florence again for the first time.”

A similar study trip to Florence is planned for 2014.

Holian served as faculty moderator during the symposium session. Other faculty who moderated students’ sessions throughout the afternoon, on a wealth of topics, included Dr. William Markham, Eloise Hassell, Beth Walker, Dr. Roy Schwartzman, Dr. Christine Woodworth, Dr. Elizabeth Natalle, Dr. Jodi Bilinkoff, Dr. Kailan Rubinoff, Dr. Sarah Krive, Dr. Robert Simmons, Dr. Paul Silvia and Dr. Tara Green. Dr. Hephzibah Roskelly gave the keynote address and was introduced by Dr. Angela Bolte.

Forty-six students made presentations; about two-thirds were LIHC students. The Symposium Prize winners, each receiving a cash prize, were:

Humanities and Fine Arts:

  1. Alison Stevens, “Teaching Music Theory for Transfer”: Full Honors; Music major; senior
  2. Lauren Carruthers, “Family Politics and the Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn”: History major; senior
  3. Jarrod Rudd, “Bigger Thomas and his Relationship to Black Power”: African American Studies major; senior

Sciences and Professional Fields:

  1. Diana Phelps,“Reducing American College Binge Drinking: A Normative Perspective on Community Action”: Full Honors; Economics major; senior
  2. Anna Sorenson, “Two Worms Don’t Make a Right: Guinea worms, and Disease Control as a Human Right”: International Honors; Public Health Education major; freshman
  3. Mina Yu, “A Study of an Internal Control System Based on the COSO Framework and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002”: Graduated December 2012 with Full Honors; Accounting major

By Mike Harris
Visual: UNCG day outing to Pisa. L-r, Heather Holian, Tisdell and Piepmeier, standing near Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici statue. CW main page visual: Piepmeier at Villa di Castello garden near Florence.