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Finding ‘the good life’ in Rome with the Political Science Department’s study abroad program


Most students get excited over a professor’s sudden whim to conduct the day’s lecture outside on a beautiful, sunny day.

In the May 2014 semester, the Political Science Department at Jacksonville State University takes it one step further by offering students the opportunity to study in Rome, Italy.

“Students will spend almost three weeks in May 2014 getting credit for Political Science 457: Special Topics in Political Theory,” wrote Dr. Jeremiah Russell, a professor of political science at JSU. “Every weekday morning there will be guided tours. The group will take a break in the afternoon, just as the Italians do, followed by an hour of reading and discussing source texts.”

The study abroad program will be conducted by the Political Science Department, with Dr. Russell and Dr. Donald Prudlo, a professor of history at JSU, conducting the class and organizing the trip.

“Dr. Prudlo and I both specialize in intellectual and medieval history,” said Dr. Russell, “so we are two peas in a pod when it comes to that. It will be a great opportunity for students to work with two people that specialize in that area.”

PSC 457 has no prerequisites and is open to all students. The course can also be used to meet the requirement of two political theory courses that all political science students must complete.

The trip will cost $2,500. Included in the cost is 17 nights lodging at the Residence Candia in Rome, transportation, entrance fees to exhibits and tours, and three group meals. Students will be responsible for May tuition and fees at JSU, airfare to Rome, insurance, travel documents, food, and miscellaneous expenses.

“The focus of the study is going to be ‘what is the good life,’” said Dr. Russell. “Essentially it’s a great opportunity for students to go to Rome and ask this really fundamental question about what is the good life, because so many of the classic answers were composed in that time by the early Christians and, of course, the Romans. So we’ll be reading selections from ancient Roman thinkers and early Christians that address that very question.”

Students participating in the study abroad will have free-time to explore Rome and travel.

Previous study abroad programs have been conducted by the History Department and will now be expanded to include the Political Science Department. “What we would like to do is offer a program every year alternating between political science and history,” said Dr. Prudlo, who has previously organized four study abroad programs through the History Department.  

“One of the advantages of this is that people [will be] not just doing things, but being there in the foreign country,” said Dr. Prudlo. “They are there to experience life and this different way of doing things... It’s not just simply about teaching, it’s about being as well.”     

A meeting will be held on Monday, September 23, at 4:30 p.m. at Brewer Hall in room 228 for students interested in the program. The program is offered to a limited amount of students so all interested should attend.

For more information, contact either Dr. Russell or Dr. Prudlo, or visit the Political Science Department at

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