Brief history of BCSP

Indiana University’s Bologna Consortial Studies Program


In 1964, Professor Mark Musa of Indiana University, a renowned Dante scholar, founded the Indiana Program at the University of Bologna, one of the first US study abroad centers to be established there. Bologna was selected due to its academic prestige as the oldest Italian, indeed oldest Western, university and to Musa’s professional contacts there. Among these was the distinguished director of the Istituto di Filologia Moderna, Professor Ezio Raimondi, who served as the official sponsor of the program until 1980. He was succeeded by Professor Mario Pazzaglia, 1980-1994, Professor Tiziano Bonazzi, 1994-2009, and Professor Raffaella Baritono, 2009 to present.

In 1969, the University of Wisconsin became a partner in the Indiana-Wisconsin program. The number of collaborating institutions increased in the 1980s, as the Universities of Pennsylvania and Minnesota joined an expanded partnership renamed the Bologna Cooperative Studies Program (BCSP). Many high quality U.S. institutions have sought to join the consortium due to its academically demanding program at the University of Bologna. By the mid-1990s, BCSP had grown to seven member institutions with the addition of the Universities of North Carolina, Illinois and Chicago. In recent years, eight additional distinguished colleges and universities, have become associate members (Northwestern, Columbia, Barnard, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Notre Dame and Michigan), sending their students through Indiana. In 2004, the consortium name was changed to the Indiana University Bologna Consortial Studies Program (still BCSP).

For 38 years, beginning with Mark Musa in 1965-66, BCSP appointed a faculty director in rotation from its member schools, to provide academic advising and a professional liaison with the University of Bologna. In 2003, the consortium appointed Professor Andrea Ricci, laurea from the University of Bologna and Ph.D. from Indiana University, to serve as the program’s continuing resident director.

From the beginning, the primary goal of the program was maximum feasible integration of students into the University of Bologna. Consequently, students were enrolled directly in University courses, through a few special support courses in Italian language, literature and history, which were organized at the program center and taught in Italian by University faculty. This goal has remained constant, a fundamental contrast to the many other American programs in Italy.

A second goal, which has become more important over time, is to strengthen the cooperative linkages between BCSP institutions and the University of Bologna. The partnership agreement provides for reciprocal exchanges of undergraduate students and faculty. Currently 18-20 University of Bologna students study each year at BCSP institutions, and the faculty exchange is robust in both directions. There are now over 1,500 BCSP alumni, a few dozen graduate exchange alumni and close to 300 University of Bologna exchange alumni. All have been affected profoundly and positively by this intensive growth and learning experience, which changed who they were and who they will become.