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IP315-15 A Sustainable Serenissima: Water and the Future of Venice (AISP) (CarryCredit/Monash)

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Bryan Brazeau
Credit value
Module duration
17 weeks
65% coursework, 35% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This is an optional module for the BA Liberal Arts, and for the GSD BASc Global Sustainable Development degrees; it will be available to undergraduates across the University, but students from SCFS will have priority. As part of Warwick AISP, it will be available to students from Warwick and Monash.

Module aims

This module examines the ways in which contemporary Venice confronts sustainability challenges and develops resilience. We will consider past, present, and future threats to a sustainable Venice, along with complex and unique local solutions using the three main pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, and economic areas) as lenses to focus our interdisciplinary discussions. The theme of ‘water’ will serve as a conceptual anchor to ground our consideration of issues such as rising sea levels, urbanization, resource management, energy production and distribution, along with historical Venetian industries such as, for example, publishing, shipbuilding, munitions, glassmaking, finance, and tourism. We will also consider Venice’s long tradition of hospitality as a sanctuary city, and the challenges Venice faces when welcoming migrants and refugees today.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

The module’s structure is based on the three pillars of sustainability. Social and historical aspects will be studied prior to our arrival in Venice. The intensive week in Venice will focus on contemporary environmental and economic issues. The final session, after we return, will focus on bringing together interdisciplinary knowledge and asking how Venice’s past can inform both its present challenges and implementations of future solutions.

Week 1: Introduction and Intersecting Contexts

M. Introduction: Venice, Representations, and Sustainability Challenges
T. Cultual Contexts: Migration and Sanctuary at the Crossroads of Global Trade
W. Ecological Contexts I: Sustaining The Venetian Empire
Th. Ecological Contexts II: Forestry and Fisheries Management
Fr. Economic Contexts: Tourism from the ‘Grand Tour’ to the ‘Grandi Navi’

Week 2: Case Studies and Problems in Contemporary Venice

M. Holding Back the Tides 1: Wet and Dry Urban Infrastructure
T. Global Gentrification, Cruise Ships, and Civic Resistance: The Fondaco de' Tedeschi
W. Holding Back the Tides 2: the MOSE Project and the Venetian Lagoon
Th. Industrial Arts and Crafts in Crisis: Porto Marghera, Burano, Arzanà
Fr. A New Atlantis: Rebuilding For A Sustainable Future? (Fondazione Cini, Arsenale) / —Conclusions

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Identify the key sustainability challenges currently facing present-day Venice and the perspectives of concerned stakeholders.
  • Engage in detailed reflection on how the city has dealt with such complex problems and competing economic, political, social, cultural, and environmental interests in the past.
  • Critically analyse existing local sustainable solutions, and future implementation plans, along with their scalability and adaptability to other global challenges.
  • Apply advanced cognitive skills to develop evidence-based policy proposals and critically reflective research.
  • Implement meta-cognitive skills to approach wicked problems through Problem-Based Learning and gain greater understanding of their own role in the learning process.
Indicative reading list

Selections from the following monographs and edited collections will be assigned:

Anheier, Helmut and Yudhishthir Raj Isar, eds., Cities, Cultural Policy and Governance. Sage (2012)
Appuhn, Karl. A Forest on the Sea: Environmental Expertise in Renaissance Venice. Johns Hopkins UP (2009)
Beatley, Timothy, ed. Green Cities of Europe: Global Lessons on Green Urbanism. Island Press (2012)
Caroli, R. and S. Soriani, eds., Fragile and Resilient Cities on Water: Perspectives from Venice and Tokyo.
Cambridge Scholars (2017).
Da Mosto, Jane, Thierry Morel, Renato Gibin, et al., eds. The Venice Report: Demography, Tourism,
Financing and Change of Use of Buildings. Cambridge UP (2009)
Davis, Robert C. Venice, the Tourist Maze: A Cultural Critique of the World’s Most Touristed City. University
of California Press (2004)
Ferraro, Joanne M. Venice: History of the Floating City. Cambridge UP
Fletcher, C.A. and T. Spencer, eds. Flooding and Environmental Challenges for Venice and its Lagoon.
Cambridge UP (2005)
Hom, Stephanie Malia. The Beautiful Country: Tourism & The Impossible State of Destination Italy.
University of Toronto Press (2015)
Lanaro, Paola, ed. At the Centre of the Old World: Trade and Manufacturing in Venice and the Venetian
Mainland, 1400-1800. Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (2006)
Lane, Frederic Chapin. Venetian Ships and Shipbuilders of the Renaissance. Johns Hopkins UP (1992)
McCray, W. Patrick. Glassmaking in Renaissance Venice: The Fragile Craft. Routledge (1999)
Mann, Thomas. Death in Venice. Vintage Classics (2001)
Musu, Ignazio, ed., Sustainable Venice: Suggestions for the Future. Kluwer Academic (2001)
Pertot, Gianfranco. Venice: Extraordinary Maintenance. Holberton (2004)
Plant, Margaret. Venice, Fragile City 1797-1997. Yale UP (2003)
Redford, Bruce. Venice and the Grand Tour. Yale UP (1996)
Rosi, Gianfranco. Fire at sea (Fuocoammare). [Film] (2016)
Standish, Dominic. Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality. University Press of America (2011)

Additional texts, specific book chapters and articles will be set for additional reading.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Research element

Students will produce a final research essay on a topic of their own choosing related to the themes of the module


This is module offers a unique transdisciplinary learning experience allowing students to achieve breadth and depth of knowledge. The module is designed to provide the students with an understanding of relationships between the different disciplinary areas within sustainability, urban studies, and cultural studies, with a particular focus on Venice. It also invites to the students to make connections with other disciplinary areas covered in their main study programme. It provides the students with a critical understanding of dominant traditions and methodologies associated with the main phenomena covered in the module and enables the students to transcend disciplinary boundaries. The interdisciplinary course cohort provides contact opportunities and learning to see from different perspectives is a core aspect of the learning experience.


The module draws on cases from different contexts, including different geopolitical areas, professional environments and linguistic contexts. The content and assessment invite the students to reflect on the societal relevance in different environments of the phenomena covered in the module. The assessment involves students working in groups with academic and ideally non-academic stakeholders which (will) allow for a global and local outlook to be built into the module’s work. The international and diverse course cohort provides contact opportunities and learning to see from different perspectives is a core aspect of the learning experience. In future years (beyond 2020-2021) the module will include experiential learning onsite in Venice.

Subject specific skills

Analytical skills attained through the analysis of existing local sustainable solutions, and future implementation plans, along with their scalability and adaptability to other global challenges.

Transferable skills

Advanced cognitive skills of critical reflection ; Meta-cognitive skills gained through Problem-Based Learning which aid understanding of own role in the learning process; Work effectively with others in group tasks and in teams; Plan and manage time in projects; Develop strong analytical skills; Find, evaluate and use previous research at a level appropriate for an intermediate-year module; Use a range of tools and resources effectively in the preparation of course work; Read and critically discuss academic papers effectively in the context of an intensive programme; Communicate clearly and effectively in discussions; Communicate ideas effectively in writing.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 6 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 1 hour (10%)
Tutorials 3 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Project supervision 1 session of 1 hour (1%)
Private study 76 hours 30 minutes (79%)
Total 96.5 hours
Private study description

Week 1 – Preparatory and background readings, online quiz (30 hours independent learning)
Week 2 – Readings for daily sessions and collaborative group work (20 hours independent learning)
Week 3 – Readings for daily sessions and collaborative group work (26.5 hours independent learning)
Week 4 –20 Final assessment (covered in the assessment hours)
(47 hours of total work expected for 3,500-word research essay or policy proposal, factored into assessment hours)


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D
Weighting Study time
Research Project or Policy Proposal 65% 47 hours

This is the final (and main) piece of assessment in this module. It asks students to devise a research project for an essay of their chosen interdisciplinary topic, or to draft a policy proposal informed by research. The projects will be discussed with the module convenor in group sessions on Monday of Week 4.

As this module version is for Monash students and students who intend to carry the credit into their final year at Warwick, this assessment will be due in early October of the academic year following the June teaching.

Online Test (Take-Home) 35% 6 hours 30 minutes

Online test in week one to ensure comprehension and critical thinking around set background readings in week 1.

Feedback on assessment

Detailed feedback for written assignments will be provided via Tabula.
Feedback on test will be provided on Moodle.

Past exam papers for IP315


The module is open to all students in SCFS and more widely at Warwick. The module is NOT available to first-year or final-year students. This version of the module is for students from Monash and Warwick students who wish to carry credits forward into the following year.


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 3 of UVCA-LA98 Undergraduate Liberal Arts with Intercalated Year