Nel mezzo del cammine di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura

25 Oct

Double majoring in Italian Studies and Environmental Science has made me appreciate the liberal arts education Smith stands for. Studying Italian language and literature has helped me gain a unique perspective in environmental science. It is possible to find connections between even the most seemingly unrelated fields. Italians have a different mindset then Americans when discussing environmental issues.

Italy doesn’t have many wild places that have never been touched by civilization. The American Wild West fascinates them. The spaghetti western was born out of the Italian interest in wide-open lands.

Italy has its fair share of environmental wonders. The country stretches from snowy Alps in the north to hot dry beaches in the south. The diversity of different regions comes from the fact that the long and narrow country is full of mountains. A scientist will tell you that this leads to greater speciation because the mountains impede migration. An Italian will declare it campanilismo. Italians have fierce loyalty to their region.

The Italian way of life is rooted in traditions. People are still living in cities founded before the American continent was discovered. They are still eating olive oil from the same orchards and wine from the same vineyards as the ancient Romans. The culture has sustained itself throughout the centuries.

Learning about a culture that I wasn’t born into was a rewarding experience. Understanding how people in other countries think takes time and effort. Understanding how people are affected by their environment takes cross-disciplinary knowledge. Environmental Science is a worldwide discipline.




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