Machiavelli in Context
In addition to their participation in the workshop, students studied Machiavelli’s works and visited a number of locations that gave insight into the political environment that influenced his writing. Students visited Machiavelli’s family estate, where he wrote The Prince, while under house arrest.
“The Prince served as his job interview to get back into city government,” explained Massa. “That he could see the Duomo of Florence from his estate was a form of torture—imagine being kicked out of the White House to serve house arrest in Rosslyn. My professors taught me this story, but walking the grounds of the Villa really drove it home.”
Guided by professors, students also toured Pisa and Lucca, two cities that appear in Machiavelli’s The Art of War.
Applying ‘Ancient Wisdom’
The Villa Le Balze was donated to Georgetown in 1979, and has hosted students since 1981. Fulvio Orsitto, director of the Villa, has seen firsthand how alumni have benefited from their time spent there.
“Their study abroad period here made them acquire a new set of eyes,” Orsitto said. “A new gaze on the world, which had an impact on many of their life choices and that has given them an edge in their academic and professional lives as well.”
The Machiavelli seminar is one of many credit-bearing academic programs offered at the Villa, reflective of the center’s vibrant intellectual community and commitment to transformative global learning.
“My hope is that students will be better able to apply ancient wisdom to modern problems,” said Matthew Kroenig, an associate professor in the Department of Government. “Future business leaders and policymakers will be much better prepared for dealing with these future challenges if they understand their historical antecedents.”