Plan II Honors Program | College of Liberal Arts
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College of Liberal Arts

St. Peters

Pope Francis’s Catholic Church: The Making of the Modern Papacy - Rome, Italy

Program Description: This program offers the unique opportunity to explore first-hand the history and politics of papal succession and church policy in Rome, Italy. Specifically, we will concentrate on Pope Francis, the Holy See, the Vatican, and the world that it serves. The course will introduce, describe, and analyze how the Church makes its decisions and why. In addition to a regular classroom schedule, we will visit the great churches of Rome, meet with the Princes of the Church, and observe the church's far-reaching influence. By the end of the course, students will have developed an understanding of the Church as a historical, religious, and political organization. Local program staff in Rome will organize orientation and housing and support students throughout the program's duration.

Eligibility: All majors are welcome to apply as well as students of any classification (first-year, second-year, etc...).   Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA; for first year students acceptance will be conditional until fall grades are reported upon review of the UT GPA.  Students do not need to speak Italian to participate, all program courses are taught in English.  Students must be enrolled at UT Austin in residence during the spring 2022 semester.

Academic Credit: 3 hours of in-residence credit can be earned through this program.  Courses are included in spring registration and are factored in the UT GPA.  Accepted students will have the option to select the credit option out of the following that will be most useful for their academic plan: GOV 379S (GOV Majors, GOV Minors), TC 358 (Plan II Majors), LAH 350 (Liberal Arts Honors Distinction).  For those students not pursuing any of the programs above, all three course options can be used as upper-division elective credit for any Major/Degree at UT Austin and to fulfill the UT Core Independent Inquiry and Writing Flag requirements.  

Requirements: Students must apply to participate in the program through the Texas Global website. Students are also asked to answer the following questions by emailing their responses directly to Professor Sean Theriault.

1. What one building, one piece of art, or place in Rome would you be most eager to show your fellow classmates? Why? 

2. What is one policy of the Catholic Church that you especially like or that you especially disagree with? Why? 

Through the spring seminar pre-departure steps and safety issues will be addressed by UT's International Office and a few "survival" Italian language lessons will be provided.  The requirements for the three-hour course in Rome will be composed of attendance in class and for all excursions, active class participation, completion of homework assignments, a semester project, and oral presentation of a semester project.  The semester project will be a research paper examining an aspect of Pope Francis's Church that utilizes course information, the historic setting, and the tours/meetings to gain additional insight to how the church functions and why.

Faculty Leader: Professor Sean Theriault of the Department of Government in the College of Liberal Arts will lead this Maymester Program.  Professor Theriault, whose classes include the U.S. Congress, Congressional Elections, Party Polarization in the United States, and the Politics of the Catholic Church, is passionate about teaching as well as scholarship.  He has experience teaching and leading both students and adult learners alike as part of both academic programs and tours in multiple cities abroad.  Professor Theriault has received numerous teaching distinctions, including being an Academy of Distinguished Teachers inductee (2012) and the Regent's Outstanding Teaching Award recipient (2014).  

Costs: 2022 program fee TBD; 2020 Program Fee: $4575. Program fee includes housing, weekday lunches, excursions, instructional costs, cell phone, and on-site orientation. Program fee does not include airfare, books, insurance, local transportation, and personal expenses.

Scholarships/Funding: All students should check in with the Academic Advisor in their Major to inquire about available scholarships as many are Major and/or College specific.  Students are encouraged to apply for all scholarships/grants that they are eligible for.  Many scholarships have early deadlines, students may apply for scholarships even if they are not yet sure they have been accepted into the program.

Program Dates:

Program: May 25, 2022 to June 17, 2022

Instructional May 25, 2022 to June 16, 2022 

Application Deadline:

November 15, 2021

Information Sessions*:

Oct. 7 at 12 p.m. (noon)

Nov. 4 at 10 a.m.

*see the Plan II Newsletter for Zoom links



Professor Sean Theriault
Faculty Leader

Jessika Macías
Texas Global Program Coordinator

Anne McCreary
Plan II Academic Program Coordinator