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  • Locations: Dorf Tirol, Italy; Merano, Italy
  • Program Terms: Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2019 09/28/2018 10/25/2018 TBA TBA
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Faculty Led Major(s): Art, English, Environmental Studies, History, Political Science
Available General Education Requirements: Humanities Meals: Most breakfasts and lunches plus a meal stipend for dinner
Housing: Homestay Language Prerequisite: No Language Prerequisite
Cost: Home school tuition
Program Description:

Rated #2 Best Study Abroad Program - Best Colleges Review

The Brunnenburg Semester offers students a unique opportunity to experience and study sustainable living with a focus on food systems. Students live in the compound of a 13th century castle in the Italian Alps, called Brunnenburg, which has a working farm and vineyard. The castle is situated on the side of a mountain above the spa town of Merano near the Austrian border in a region known as the South Tyrol. The region is a historical, bi-lingual, and multicultural crossroads. Because the castle belongs to Mary de Rachewiltz, the daughter of American poet, Ezra Pound, one of the added benefits of the program is the opportunity to attend her Sunday teas where students share poetry, music, and other artistic responses to their experience. 

All classes involve local excursions. There are also trips to other important cities nearby: Salzburg, Venice, and Cinque Terre. While there is no language requirement, students are encouraged to study German or Italian on their own before going. 

Check out this amazing video of Brunnenburg!

Academics (All required unless given special permission):

BIOL 242: Natural Science Seminar: Medicinal and Nutritional Ethnobotany  (4 credits)
“ I have an earache…
2000 B.C.:  Here, eat this root
1000 A.D.:  The root is heathen.  Here, say this prayer.
1850 A.D.:  That prayer is superstition.  Here, drink this potion.
1920 A.D.:  That potion is snake oil.  Here, swallow this pill.
1945 A.D.:  That pill is harmful.  Here take this antibiotic
1985-1999 A.D.: That antibiotic is ineffective. Try this one.
2000 A.D.:  That antibiotic no longer works.  Here, eat this root.

This amusing depiction of the history of medicine illustrates the resurgence in interest in traditional medicinal practices.  In this course, we will examine historical and contemporary medical and nutritional ethnobotanical practices and their impact on health and disease.  Fulfills the Natural Science Breadth requirement.  It can also be applied as an elective course toward the Biology major or minor, as well as majors in Health Science, Public Health or Sustainable Food Systems.

Agro-Archeaology (4 credits)
An introduction to the history and pre-history of agriculture, drawing from the resources of the Tyrolean Alps. An examination of the impact of changes in agriculture on the social and religious realm, as reflected in myths, legends, customs, and beliefs. Each Tuesday students participate in a workday on the farm and surrounding vineyards, which belong to the castle. Instructor: distinguished ethnographer, museum director, and expert in comparative literature, Sizzo de Rachewiltz (SOAN 250) 

Environmental Ethics (4 credits)
Exploration of environmental topics from several theoretical, cultural and religious perspectives. Questions include: What are our responsibilities to the environment? To what extent are these responsibilities affected by the interests of other persons or groups? What is the source of these responsibilities and to whom are we obligated? Instructor: Ph.D. candidate, Michi de Rachewiltz 

Süd Tyrolean Cooking (2 credits)
Students will enjoy an introduction to the unique culinary traditions and food culture of the region. Through frequent excursions and time learning in the kitchen, instructor Brigitte de Rachewiltz will be feeding both your mind and stomach! (GST 150)

Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture (2 credits)
This course develops skills and knowledge in sustainable agriculture through practical experience in Brunnenburg’s vineyards, orchards, and permaculture garden, and working with their heritage breeds of farm animals. The heart of the course is a work day.  Includes readings and reflections in a weekly journal. Under the direct supervision of vintner and farm manager: Nik de Rachewiltz. (ENVS 110)

Engagement Abroad (1 credit)
This online course facilitates cross-cultural engagement and reflection on experiences in the form of reflective assignments, all done through the lens of your host culture. Details provided during the Study Abroad pre-departure orientation. All students are required to take this course. (GST 250)

Brunnenburg Orientation (0 credit)
The first week at Brunnenburg will consist of an orientation to the castle and region. Students will learn about the history of the Tyrol, how to get around, and what to expect for the semester.

Eligible students must be in good academic and judicial standing with a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Program Details:

Students reside in the Brunnenburg Castle's "croft,” which accommodates fourteen. Lunch is provided Monday through Friday. For breakfast and dinner, students shop in the village of Dorf Tirol, using a stipend provided by Guilford College, and do their own cooking.

The basic cost of the Semester in Brunnenburg, from early February through early May, is usually the equivalent of a full residential semester at Guilford in Greensboro, plus airfare. (Unfavorable exchange rates may require the addition of a surcharge in order to maintain the quality of the program.) This includes all instruction, fees, housing, program-related travel, and meals. Additional expenses will depend on your own preferences. All federal, state, and college financial assistance, with the exception of work-study funds, is applicable to the Spring Semester in Brunnenburg.

All students are required to fly together on a group flight from a common USA departure city, with a common return flight. Exceptions to this policy are rare and must be pre-approved by the Study Abroad office.

Brunnenburg Castle