Explore the business and culture of Italy during a time of mass disruption: protectionism, pandemics, and political fragmentation

Back by popular demand: this unique class explores international business at a time of mass disruption. Join us on an innovative, virtual exploration of the business and culture of Italy though a remote “trip” that you can do from home. Given protectionism, pandemics, and risks of political fragmentation, COVID-19 has created an unprecedented time in Italy, Europe, and the world. Check out our video highlights from this course over winter 2020.  

Our Italy-based instructor will guide you through an examination of the business, social, financial, and political responses to disruptions in Italy and the EU, including the pandemic and Brexit. Hands-on cultural events are infused throughout the class, using virtual reality headsets for city visits, live tours with interactive guides, a hands-on cooking class, language lesson, and more. The class will feature industry speakers and an opportunity to network with Italian students.   

When you complete this program you will have the skills and knowledge to jumpstart your future study abroad, travel, and international business experience. 

What are some benefits of a virtual global experience? 

  • Interactive course lead by an instructor and cultural guide in Italy  
  • Guest speakers and businesses from around the world  
  • Gain the skills and confidence to prepare for a future study abroad or international work experience  
  • Network with global businesses through guest speakers  
  • Available at a cost similar to a 3 s.h. winter course through UI 
  • Virtual global experiences are eligible for many study abroad scholarships 
Venice tour

Course Overview

Covering economic, financial, cultural, political, and medical matters, this course is all about living and/or doing business in Italy.  Our core focus will be financial, economic, and business matters, but the course will also be dedicated to conveying Italian life and culture and interweaving the ever-present reality of COVID. 

Our viewpoint will move from overall structures to detailed “life on the ground”.  Just as many make their first stops in Europe in Brussels or Frankfurt, we will begin with discussions of the European Union (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB).   

From there you would be connecting on to Italy, perhaps even the national capital, Rome.  We will move our discussions to understand Italy and its culture and how it fits in the pan-European idea of the EU.  Ultimately, just as you would arrive in the Northeastern region known as the Veneto (with its capital, Venice), we will tour local attractions, experience the culture, and talk to companies involved. 

As a class, we will look at how COVID has impacted all levels, from the EU to businesses to individuals. Ultimately, we settle in with discussions about individual lives and responses. 

Course credit satisfies Tippie RISE and also counts in the following ways: 

  • Pick one: FIN:4020 Special Topics in Finance (finance elective for majors) or International Global Issues gen ed for Tippie students 

  • Pick one: For the International Business Certificate: International Business Section or Study Abroad Section 

Intl Biz in Italy Risotto

Cultural activities 

Participants will each receive a cultural travel box that contains supplies for our hands-on activities. Cultural seminars will be live on Zoom and interactive. This is a unique and personal course, participants should come ready to discuss and learn from each other. Seminars will include: 

  • Survival Italian 
  • A night at the theater 
  • Virtual reality tours 
  • Hands on cooking class from home 
  • Exploration of regional cuisine 
  • Live guided tours of local towns 
  • Hands on art activity from home 
  • Cultural conversations with Italian business students 
  • Alumni presentations  
  • Company presentations

Important Dates and Application


  • Applications open: September 1 and can be found here. Early apps are encouraged.  
  • Deadline: October 8 
  • Program confirmation date: October 15 

Tentative Virtual Class Dates 

  • December 27, 28, 29 
  • January 3 – 14 

Class Details

  • Most class activities will take place Monday - Thursday between the hours of 8am-4pm
  • Class will be in block format with 3-4 blocks per day, and breaks in between
  • Class format will be live Zoom meetings 
  • Final schedule will be released in early December 
Verona, Italy


Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • GPA: 2.75 UI and cumulative
  • Academic Prerequisites: FIN:3000 or approval of program director
  • Good academic and disciplinary standing

If you have questions regarding eligibility requirements, contact the program director stephanie-fountain@uiowa.edu prior to submitting an application.

View of Italy

Program fee and Scholarships

The program fee is $1,655. This includes 3 s.h. of course credit and is comparable to tuition for all 3 s.h. courses offered through the University of Iowa. Program fee includes cultural activity supplies that will be mailed to each participant. There is a $50 application fee for this program. 

There are scholarships available for virtual global programs through both the Tippie College and Study Abroad. 

Apply for Tippie Scholarships

What are Tippie students saying?

“We had the chance to learn about Italian history, cuisine, art, economics, and so much more. We took tours all over Italy with a virtual tour guide, by using our oculus headsets. We traveled to Venice, Verona, Bologna, and my personal favorite, Rome. We even had a cooking class where we learned to make risotto, a very popular Italian dish.  

It was interesting to learn about the Italian and European government - there are many similarities and differences with the United States government. I took this course because I didn’t know if I wanted to leave the country to do an in-person study abroad program, but after my amazing experience, my eyes were opened to viewing studying abroad as a great opportunity to learn and see the world. If you are thinking about doing this virtual study abroad course, I highly recommend it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so don’t pass it up!” 

- Tippie’s Anni L.