Creating a More Humane and Beautiful World: The First Renaissance Program in Florence

Through education, the Renaissance humanists wanted to nurture human abilities and encourage the development of well-rounded people who could contribute to society. They also wanted to create a more engaging, inspiring world—like the city of Florence—that would reflect and inspire human potential.

Last month, the International Studies Institute collaborated in launching the first Renaissance Program in Florence, an innovative five-day course, which explores the ideas of Renaissance humanism, and then asks, “Could we learn something valuable from these ideas today?”

About 20 participants traveled from around the world to participate in the program. They investigated Renaissance ideas about how people can become more kind and humane individuals. They also explored how people can create a better and more beautiful world wherever they live, and why contributing to the greater good of society remains important today.

In the short, five-minute video below, Stefano Baldassarri, director of the International Studies Institute, reflects on the accomplishments and promise of the first Renaissance Program in Florence.

Stefano Baldassarri offers his thoughts on the first Renaissance Program in Florence: “Building Something Together.”

The Renaissance Program explored how humanist ideas were expressed in the society and artwork of Renaissance Florence. A talk by Renaissance Program founder David Fideler at the British Institute of Florence investigated Renaissance ideas of human potential, and how people could deepen and cultivate their humanity through education. It also considered what kinds of things are dehumanizing, at times, in modern society. A visit to the Medici Villa in Fiesole, overlooking Florence, was included, where famous humanists would gather to discuss ideas and contemplate the beauty of nature.

Happy participants in the First Renaissance Program, who travelled to Florence from around the world, and who contributed to the creation of the new educational program.

The program included some common meals together, in which participants could share ideas, learn from others, and develop friendships. It culminated at the ISI campus in Palazzo Rucellai, where a scholarly symposium was held, and where Stefano Baldassarri offered his personal reflections on the week’s events.

Professor Baldassarri stressed the importance of incorporating kindness into education, the importance of spending time together with others in-person and celebrating “the everyday human,” and how the Renaissance Program offers a unique opportunity to “build something together” in the coming years.

He noted that creating a more humane and beautiful world is a never-ending “work in progress,” quoting the words of the Renaissance humanist Giannozzo Manetti: “It is a beautiful world, but we must try to make it even more beautiful.”

For Further Reading:
The Renaissance Program in Florence Five-Day Course
Living Ideas Journal (a free online journal of the Renaissance Program)