Study Abroad


Mathematics and Mechanics of Byzantine, Greek, Roman and Islamic Architecture

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This course is now accepting applications for the Winter 2015-16 term.

UMAIE Course Number: T4666
SAU Course Equivalency: MATH 400 
Instructor: Dr. Cheri Shakiban and Dr. Michael Hennessey, University of St. Thomas
Dates: January 3-27, 2016. (NOTE: SAU classes begin January 20)
Location: Toledo, Granada, and Barcelona, Spain; Athens, Greece; Rome and Bologna, Italy 
Price: $5,707-$6,007 (subject to change)

Program description

The purpose of this course is to achieve an understanding of the Greek, Byzantine, Roman and Islamic cultures from the perspective of mathematics and engineering and to appreciate the influence of their technical advances on the world culture throughout the ages, including contemporary times. We will investigate how they developed such sophisticated levels of mathematics and engineering to design magnificent buildings such as the Acropolis
of Athens (468-430 BC), the Coliseum of Rome (70 - 72 AD), and will compare the architecture of these magnificent buildings. We will then compare these building with the more contemporary buildings designed by Gaudi in Barcelona and in particular check out the influence of the Islamic architecture and geometry in his work.

We will use modern techniques in mathematics, including group theory, abstract algebra, linear algebra, and the geometry of ruled surfaces to study the mathematics incorporated in their art and architecture from the point of symmetry including characterizing the frieze patterns and tessellations that are found in their buildings, on their domes, columns, and arches. We will then discuss the engineering mechanics of their architecture using concepts and techniques such as elastic instability (buckling), stress and strain (tensor quantities), inertia and moments, and stability of structures with the aid of software such as MATLAB, Mathematica and Solidworks. We will visit three different universities on location in Barcelona, Athens and Pisa and will have local mathematicians, architects and engineers to talk to the students on concepts directly related to the course.

What is included

  • Study abroad fee in lieu of tuition
  • Round-trip airfare from Moline, Chicago or Minneapolis 
  • Hotel accommodation in double and triple rooms
  • Continental breakfast daily (except on travel days)
  • Some additional meals
  • Travel assistance
  • International health insurance

What is not included

  • Passport fees
  • Transportation to/from airport
  • Fees for textbooks and materials
  • Meals not included in the program fee - estimated cost is $616.
  • Personal baggage fees and spending money

How to apply

Application Deadline: October 1, 2015
Step 1: Complete the online application.

Step 2: Fill out a Liability Form. Upload the form into your online application or submit it to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
Step 3: Choose an airport and fill out a Deviation Form (pdf).
Step 4: Submit a $500 application deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove). Make checks payable to SEMINARS INTERNATIONAL.
Step 5: If your application is approved, follow the next steps for accepted students.

Payment deadlines and instructions

  • October 1, 2015: $500 deposit due
    Turn in your deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove). 
    Deposit checks should be made payable to SEMINARS INTERNATIONAL. 
  • November 1, 2015: remaining balance due
    Turn in your final payment to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
    Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University or pay online with credit card.
    Credit card users - Indicate that the payment is for the SPRING 2016 term.

Payment details

  • Read the UMAIE Rules and Procedures regarding additional payment policies.
  • The $500 deposit is refundable ONLY if you are not accepted or if the program is canceled.
  • If you are accepted, all payments are non-refundable after each payment deadline.
  • All payments are deducted from the total program cost.
  • Failure to meet payment deadlines may jeopardize your place in the program.
  • Credit card users will incur additional service fees.
  • The final payment is non-refundable after November 1.