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Faculty and Staff

The Italy Center staff and faculty look forward to meeting you in Bologna.  Courses are taught by adjunct professors who have either taught or completed doctoral research in the United States and are familiar with American forms of pedagogy.


Administrative Staff


Alia Nardini (Director)

Dr. Nardini moved to the UK at age 18, where she completed her BA and Masters in Political Philosophy. She moved back to Italy for her PhD and taught at the University of Pisa and the University of Bologna. Dr. Nardini’s academic production includes two books, various publications on international relations and contemporary American political thought, and an extensive collaboration with Vatican Radio. 

Dr. Nardini began teaching at the Italy Center in 2012 and served as the Associate Director for Academic Affairs from 2017-2020.  She has overseen a broad range of academic, social justice and co-curricular programs. She developed a number of interdisciplinary courses and initiatives that have deepened the Center’s commitment to human rights. She laid the foundation for the Center’s internship and independent research programs, allowing students to gain real world experience while living in Bologna.  She designed and implemented the Puglia Summer internship program, which placed students in a refugee reception center. She also offers expertise in leading social justice-focused student travel tours to include Southern Italy and Eastern European destinations.


 Vittorio Buffatti  (Vice Director of Budget and Finance)

VittorioAs the Assistant Director of the Italy Center, Professor Buffatti overseas the administrative operations of the Italy Center.  He is a practitioner and researcher  having worked for numerous human rights causes across Italy and the Balkans.  In 2010 he conducted research for Amici dei Bambini  which is the largest non profit organization in Italy addressing the needs of children. He holds two master’s degrees; one in Political Science (interdisciplinary with Law) from the University of Bologna and another in Business and Non Profit Management from the Luigi Bocconi University in Milan. He has overseen the operations of youth and legal projects in the Balkans while working for the Johns Hopkin’s University Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development.  He served for six years as a tutor and director of student affairs for the Bologna based Loyola University (California) International  Law Program.


Evan Welkin (Associate Director of Italy Operations)

EvanEvan Welkin grew up in Washington State and has lived in Italy since 2015. He holds a BA from Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina in Sociology and Anthropology and a Masters in Ecological Design Thinking from Schumacher College in Devon, UK.  He has worked with Spring Hill students since 2016 through programs organized at the farm where he and his wife are establishing a folk school and education center outside of Forli near Bologna, Borgo Basino. He co-teaches an interdisciplinary course on Environmental Business Ethics while overseeing service learning, social justice programming and immersive travel experiences for the Italy Center.  He has also worked for the last 10 years in social and environmental justice community organizing, youth development and sustainable strategic planning through his consulting practice. He is an experienced group facilitator and cross-cultural trainer, organizing learning tours in Italy, Turkey, Mexico and the US.


Sam Favre (Program Coordinator)

Sam grew up in Long Beach, Mississippi. He graduated from Spring Hill College with a degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. Sam attended the Italy Center in the Spring of 2019. After his semester abroad, he worked in our Mobile office, helping with recruitment, pre-departure, and other operations. Sam now serves as our Program Coordinator in Bologna. He lives in The Student Hotel alongside students as a resource for acclimating to life in Italy and anything else they may need.


Lisa Pasquinelli (Program Coordinator)

Lisa is from Tuscany. She attended the University of Bologna and graduated with a master’s degree in Language, Society, and Communication. Lisa also studied abroad in Finland and Belgium, and taught Italian to foreigners. These experiences pushed her to work in study abroad, both as a coordinator for an international study program in her hometown and as a group leader for international students in the UK. After spending the last year volunteering at a kindergarten, she now serves as our Program Coordinator in Bologna and she lives in The Student Hotel. She is always ready to assist students and help them have enriching experiences.



Piergiacomo Petrioli (Art History)

PGPiergiacomo Petrioli, PhD, is an art historian residing in Bologna. He holds a PhD from the University of Turin and a Specializzazione from the University of Siena. His fields of interest include Renaissance Art, Art criticism and collection of Tuscan Renaissance art in England and America, and 19th-Century art criticism and restoration in Siena. He has published several articles and books, including a textbook about the Renaissance in Central Italy for non-Italian students, “Percorso dell’arte italiana da Firenze a Roma”. Dr. Petrioli has taught Art History at the University of Siena, New York University/Florence, and Dartmouth College/Siena, Boston University in Padua and Venice, and History of Art Criticism at the University of Florence. His awards include two scholarships from the Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University and a fellowship from the Roberto Longhi Foundation of Art History in Florence.


Mattia Accorsi (Biology)

Dr. Accorsi moved to Bologna where he completed his BS in Plant Biology and Masters in Environmental Biology. During his PhD he began his research in plant physiology. Dr. Accorsi has a specialization in sports nutrition and management. During his postdoctoral studies he initiated research and developed projects for the engineering of sports field technologies, soilless farming, lighting spectra, microclimate improvement, and resource management.


Alessandro Busca (Business)

ALESSANDROAlessandro Busca is a law researcher from the European University Institute in Florence. He holds a law degree from the University of Bologna, where he spent one year as an exchange student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also holds a master degree LL.M. from the University of Chicago Law School. He has worked in a number of international institutions, such as the European Court of Human Rights as well as international law firms. He has just completed a Ph.D. at the European University Institute.

Silvia Giagnoni (Media Studies/Journalism)

Silvia GiagSilvianoni is a writer and media instructor whose nonfiction work is rooted in civil rights and social justice issues. Giagnoni’s latest work focuses on immigration and immigrant rights in the U.S. South—her latest project is an investigation on detention centers and asylum seekers in the United States. Born and raised in Prato (Italy), Giagnoni lived and taught communication in the United States (Alabama and Florida) for fifteen years after relocating to her hometown in 2018. She has experience working in documentary film production and has authored books and essays in Italian and English, among which Here we May Rest. Alabama Immigrants in the Age of HB 56 (NewSouth Press 2017); Oltre la Siepe. Alla Ricerca di Harper Lee (Trans. Beyond the Hedge. In Search of Harper Lee) (Edizioni dell’Asino 2013); and Fields of Resistance. The Struggle of Florida’s Farmworkers for Justice (Haymarket Books 2011).

Nicola Spaccucci (Film Studies)

Nicola SNicola Spaccucci is an editor and director of production who has been involved in many projects in the last 15 years, from cinema to TV production, videoclips and advertising. From 2011 he leads production and video editing at Dreamed Srl, Lavino Mezzo, Bologna. From 2008 to 2010, he was the Assistant Director Live as Video Technician at ASA Audiovisivi srl – Castelnuovo di Casalecchio – Bologna and Video Editor for various videoclips and DVD, including live for Vasco Rossi, Stadio, Marco Travaglio,Talks with Ermanno Olmi” by Tatti Sanguineti. Since 2004 editor for Zoomworx for several TV and cinema film productions, including “Tu te souviens d’ Adil?” by Mohammed Zinnedaine, and the TV film “L’ispettore Coliandro 2”, directed by Manetti Bros. Professional training in editing on AVID Xpress at Accademia delle Arti Cinematografiche di Bologna with excellent knowledge of editing software: Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Movie Magic, AVID Xpress, Motion in their various versions. Experienced in the field of film production, elaboration and distribution of audiovisual products on digital, analogical and film format. Wide knowledge of cinema and TV culture. Writer of film subjects and scripts.

Lee Foust (Italian Literature)

LeeDr. Foust first came to Italy as an undergraduate student with Cal State’s study abroad program in Florence in 1989 and continued his studies the following year at Florence’s Universita’ degli Studi, completing 4 corsi singoli in literature and literary criticism. After earning BAs in both English and Italian from San Francisco State University, he acquired a PhD from New York University in Comparative Literature focusing on Italian and English medieval literature with a dissertation on Dante’s Commedia. Since 1998 Dr. Foust has taught various literature courses and Creative Writing at U.S. study abroad programs in Florence, Bologna, and Rome. Besides his scholarship, Dr. Foust is a fiction writer and performer with essays, articles, short stories, and poems published in newspapers, magazines, and in on-line journals in his native USA, here in Italy, as well as Canada and Australia. He has published two books: Sojourner is an anthology of short fiction and poetry on the theme of place, and Poison and Antidote, 9 Bohemian tales from San Francisco’s art and music underground of the 1980s. His first novel, Inbetween, is forthcoming in 2018.

Michele Marchi (History)

MIcheleBorn in Bologna in 1977, he studied Political Sciences at the University of Bologna where he graduated in 2003. Then he started a doctorate course and obtained his PhD in Political History of Contemporary Europe (XIX-XX century) in 2007. His thesis was about religion and politics in Italy and France from Second World War to the Sixties. After lots of years as a post-doctoral at the University of Bologna, lots of periods of research in France, lots of courses of Contemporary History and History of the European political systems taught at the University of Bologna and some books and lots of academics articles written on French, Italian and European history, in December 2015 he became Senior Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science of Alma Mater Studiorum, where he’s now teaching International History for the students of the course of Political, Social and International Sciences. His main research interests are French and Italian history of the XX century, history of European integration and French and Italian foreign policy. He has been working at the Department for the Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna, Ravenna Campus since January 2018.

Lorenza Fabretti  (Italian Language)

LorenzaPrior to instructing Italian at the Spring Hill College Italy Center, Professor Fabretti taught Italian language courses at the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome. From 2004 to 2010, Dr. Fabretti instructed English to immigrants for the Jesuit Refugee Services in Rome. She holds a Master’s Degree in Instruction and Promotion of Italian Language and Culture for Foreigners at the University of Venice. She completed her first Master’s Degree in International Studies at the University of Bologna in 2001 and her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Anthropology from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 1995. Prior to returning to Italy in 2000 she worked for the International Commission for Missing Person’s in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina assisting women from all three sides of war. Ms. Fabretti speaks Italian, English, Spanish, and entry level French and Bosnian (Serbo-Croat).

Claudia Marulo (Italian Language)

ClaudiaClaudia Marulo studied Modern Literature in Naples and acquired a PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Text Translation from the University of Siena, with a dissertation on hypernovel. She has been teaching Italian Literature and Italian Language for 10 years now, with great enthusiasm.Her literature courses focused on Dante and Boccaccio in the Medieval period, and on Calvino in the twentieth century. She published several articles and attended conferences in Lisbon, Zurich, and Louvain-la-Neuve. Dr. Marulo worked with university students from all over the United States, but also with European study abroad programs (Università per Stranieri di Siena) and Argentinean MA students (Università di Bologna). She taught at the Siena School for Liberal Arts and the AHA – Oregon University in Siena, the Italy Intensives of the East Carolina University in Certaldo (FI), and the Johns Hopkins University in Bologna. Throughout the years, Dr. Marulo has created original didactic material for specific Italian language learners, such as migrants, and undergraduate American students. She speaks advanced English and French.

Giulia Mingucci (Philosophy)

GiuliaGiulia Mingucci teaches Ancient Philosophy at the University of Bologna. After having received her BA and MA degrees in Philosophy from the University of Bologna, she obtained her PhD in “History of Ideas: Philosophy and Sciences” from the Italian Institute of Human Sciences (SUM) of Florence. During her PhD course, she conducted research at the University of Oxford as a visiting member of the “Centre for the Study of Greek and Roman Antiquity” and eventually obtained an award for her doctoral dissertation. Dr. Mingucci is mainly interested in the dialogue between ancient and contemporary thinkers in the research fields of Ancient Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Biology, and published several articles in Italian and English on these topics. She is member of the European Society of Ancient Philosophy (ESAP) and author of two books: 

Può il Computer Emozionarsi? Macchine & Intelligenza Emotiva (EAI 2015), and La fisiologia del pensiero in Aristotele (Il Mulino 2015; English translation forthcoming).

Ervjola Selenica (Political Science)

Ervjola SViolaelenica is visiting research fellow at the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex. She holds a PhD in International Studies from the University of Trento, an MSc. in International Development Studies from the University of Amsterdam (with Distinction), a BA in International Relations and Political Science from the University of Bologna, and a post-graduate diploma on Peace and Conflict from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway. She has worked for the International Training Programme for Conflict Management (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa – Italy) and as a consultant for UNESCO, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, FRIDE, European Parliament, the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society and the Norwegian Students’ and Academics International Assistance Fund. Her research interests include the political economy and politics of education reforms, state building and state formation in war and post-war settings, peacebuilding, conflict, critical security and the global governance of aid and development. Ervjola Selenica has a country expertise on Kosovo and East Timor.

Chiara Deodato (Social Sciences, Internship Program & Service Learning Coordinator)

ChiaraChiara has lived in Bologna since mid 2017. Her current main job – and activism – is within a Bolognese organization dealing with poverty and community empowerment. She is committed to humanitarian, social and ethical principles and actions, through her academic path (MSc in International Humanitarian Action, after Political Science undergraduate degree), and  in work and volunteer experiences in not-for-profit and “social mission-driven” organizations with field experience throughout Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and Oceania.

Irene Valsangiacomo (Guest Theology) 

IreneIrene Valsangiacomo was born in Switzerland and she studied drama at the Theater School of Bologna A. G. Garrone. After the graduation she did a volunteer experience in Sao Paulo (Brasil) in the context of a project of evangelization through social media. She studied theology at the Theology Faculty of Bologna and got a master degree in “Science, Philosophy and Theology of Religions” at the Theology Faculty of Lugano (Switzerland). She has been active within the “Rete Loyola”, the Jesuits of Bologna’s program for students, from 2008 to 2016. She is currently a religion professor in public school.




Mobile Administrative Staff

Clintisha Sellers (Recruiter)

Clintisha grew up in Moss Point, Mississippi, and obtained her Bachelors in International Studies and MBA from Spring Hill College. In 2016 she attended our program for the Fall and Spring Semesters. Following her year abroad she worked in our Mobile location as a student intern and now serves as the Italy Center’s Recruiter. When she isn’t traveling around the U.S. promoting the Italy Center, she is cooking and exploring new recipes.