The Verto Method of Teaching

Learning Outside the Classroom

On a Verto semester, coursework requires students to engage in and outside of the traditional classroom. They build on their academic curiosity by engaging with and observing host communities. Whether on a class field trip (accompanied by the faculty) to local galleries or museums, visiting a local NGO, attending a community panel, participating in service learning, speaking with local business owners, or partaking in a cultural ceremony, the experiential curriculum is carefully designed to complement and expand on course readings and lectures. All active learning experiences are framed and debriefed in conversation with faculty to maximize student learning outcomes.

Project-Based Assignments and Assessments

Students on a Verto semester are regularly asked to apply and critically asses what they have learned. Project-based assignments in Verto courses might involve, for example, independent research projects, first-hand data collection, or the development of a more creative final project such as a podcast, formal presentation, multimedia project, etc. In every class, project-based assignments are designed to allow students the freedom to pursue areas, themes, and topics of interest to them within the framework of the course.

Discussion-Based Seminars

Inside the classroom, Verto students are grouped into cohorts for small, discussion-based seminars. Verto’s face-to-face class time prioritizes discussion and active learning techniques. In addition to group and collective discussions, seminar meetings might include activities such as debates, student presentations, concept and/or mind mapping, or mock trials. This approach is made possible by Verto’s commitment to small class sizes (cohorts consist of 25 students or fewer).

A Diverse and Inclusive Curriculum

Verto courses are intentionally designed to ensure that students are exposed to diversity of perspectives and experiences. We accomplish this in three primary ways: course content, experiential learning activities, and class discussions. In each of these contexts, the curriculum exposes students to divergent experiences, perspectives, and opinions within the Verto and host communities. They also receive explicit training on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including the importance of developing diverse student communities.

Meeting Students Where They Are

Verto students come from diverse backgrounds. The courses are designed to ensure that students from all backgrounds can succeed and thrive on the Verto program. On the one hand, this means providing the necessary scaffolding and resources for those students that need more support to meet the demands of collegiate academic expectations. On the other hand, Verto also designs course assignments and assessments that allow advanced students to stretch academically and pursue their interests.

Educating the Whole Person

Verto course curriculum goes beyond cultivating academic skills and intellectual knowledge. Our faculty strive to help students build on “non-cognitive” skills like self-awareness, social awareness, and responsible decision-making. Faculty incorporate goal-setting, self-reflection, and meta-cognition as core foundations of every course. They prioritize collaboration, community-building, shared norms, and open and vulnerable dialogue in their classrooms.

Verto Education’s curriculum is developed by experienced faculty using our core pedagogical approach, which we call The Verto Method: a commitment to active, experiential, and community-centered instruction. Students are not passive recipients of information, but engaged scholars who propose solutions to global challenges and thrive at the collegiate level. They engage with their faculty and peers through collaborative dialogue, detailed case studies, and debate. The following are the core features of our course design via The Verto Method.

Course Catalog

Language and Literature

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ENG 201: World Literature

The Contemporary World Literature course is a survey of texts exploring themes relevant to Verto students as they immerse themselves in their experience abroad. It includes travel writing from around the world, literature of the country students are studying in, and literature of global diaspora groups. Students will examine both form and content, improve their ability to critique a diverse body of literature, and develop more effective written communication skills.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 102

SPAN 101: First Year Spanish

This course blends a focus on grammar and vocabulary acquisition with real world Spanish immersion. Students will have opportunities to put their Spanish language skills to use outside the classroom. This course is equivalent to an elementary Spanish language course and includes vocabulary development, grammar, sentence structure, spoken language proficiency, and cultural understanding.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: Spanish 101

SPAN 201: Second Year Spanish

This course blends a focus on communication with grammatical rigor and vocabulary acquisition, in a real-world Spanish immersion context. During class seminars, students will be exposed to Spanish in different communicative situations and will engage with the language in different manners, ranging from simply reacting to input to negotiating their way through a task. Spanish will be the primary language of instruction and the majority of class time will be spent on task-based, communicative activities. Students entering this course will need to complete a short placement test.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: Spanish 201

Humanities and Social Sciences

ANTH 103: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

This course examines the meaning of culture, methods of studying cultural settings, and structures for comparing elements of cultures around the world. Through this course, students will examine the ways in which religion and ideology, social stratification, and symbolic expression defines a culture. This course is designed to provide students with a framework for exploring the meaning of complex social phenomena, many of which they’ll observe during their travels abroad. Furthermore, this course is meant to provide students with the tools to analyze elements of culture around the world in a academically rigorous manner.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ANTH 101

ART 201: Leonardo da Vinci in Renaissance Milan

Leonardo Da Vinci: artist, engineer and genius, he is the model of the Renaissance artist. In this class we are going to discover his personal and professional life, studying the secrets of his talent and debunking the countless fake legends about him. Moreover, because of his personal and professional life, Leonardo is the perfect character to understand the Renaissance itself: walking on his footprints we are going to discover one of the most fascinating eras of human history.

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: ART 299

ECON 101: International Business & Corporate Ethics

This course has been designed to introduce students to the complex world of International Business. As globalisation has led to more and more international business activity, most products consumed daily have become dependent upon the intricate links and alliances that are a feature of doing business in a global economy. Understandably then, the primary objective of this course is to guide students towards a better understanding of the global business environment in a post-Covid 19 world and develop an appreciation of the opportunities available to, and limitations imposed upon, business activities in this environment. This course is further designed to provide students with an introduction to the forces that both drive and limit globalisation, and examine questions concerning the sustainability of current models given the pressures that appear to be emerging as the world adapts to the new priorities arising from the recent pandemic experience.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ECON 101

ECON 201: Spanish Economics within the European Union

Students will first develop a solid understanding of the historical evolution of the concept of European cultural and political identity to contextualize how Spain’s membership in the European Union has influenced national economic and monetary policies. A working knowledge of its institutions, common policies, decision-making processes and role in international affairs will enable students to understand the role of Spain within the European Union and the costs and benefits derived from the implementation of micro and macroeconomic policies since Spain’s accession in 1986.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ECON 102

HIST 101: Modern European History

This course provides an introduction to modern European history and examines how modern Europe has become one of the most important centers for historical change and development. Students will become familiar with the geography of Europe and the main strands of its historical development since the 18th century. The course will also provide a brief overview of the formation of European power and identity prior to this date. The course moves forward chronologically but the seminars are also given specific thematic foci so that students are introduced to key issues in European politics, society, economics and culture.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: HIST 101

HIST 201: Modern Latin American History

In this course, students will examine how the history and culture of Latin America constrain and advance opportunities for freedom and development in the region. This course is intended as an introduction to the cultures and societies of Latin America and contemporary issues in modern Latin American culture, politics, and economic systems. This course explores the history and culture of Latin American from the 20th century onwards. Students begin with the historical foundations needed to understand the context and trajectory of the region, before delving deeper into topics of present-day politics, economics, identity, religion, and social issues. Throughout the course, students draw upon their experiences outside of the classroom to inform their ideas and course assignments.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: HIST 102

GEO 201: Reading Milan and Italian Cities: Place-making and Cultural Resources

This course is designed to introduce students to urban studies and – more broadly – to the interactions and crossovers between culture and the city. We will examine historical, theoretical, and practical issues regarding: 1) the urban post-industrial turn (the rise of creative industries; the setting up of cultural quarters; the importance of art and culture in place-making); 2) key social transformation/processes taking place in post-industrial cities (gentrification, creolization, festivalization, artification etc.); 3) urban cultures (artistic subcultures; creative class, cultural intermediaries and hipsters); 4 creative industries (fashion, design, food, advertising etc.)

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: HIS 299

GOVT 202: Politics of Britain and the European Union

The View from London: Politics of Britain and the European Union provides students with a uniquely London-situated perspective on the politics of Britain and the EU. The course focuses on three themes: i) the political history of Britain and the EU, including imperialism and the world wars; ii) the political, economic and legal institutions of Britain and Europe; and iii) current political challenges facing both Britain and Europe, including Brexit, migration and populism. Each theme is brought alive through engagement with London’s historical landmarks and museums, including: Greenwich and the Naval Museum, the Imperial War Museum, Westminster, Bank of England, Guildhall, and the Old Bailey.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: POLI 101

GOVT 201: American Government and Politics: An Exploration of Truth in American Politics & GOVT 299L: American Government and Politics Experiential Learning Lab

Asking the essential question “Does our democracy require truth?,” Truth and American Politics is an active exploration of the importance of credible information in American society, specifically in politics and government. As you take this course during an election year, you’ll examine your own experience as a citizen and apply your new knowledge in real-time. Analyze political discourse and the circulation of online information to determine credible sources, understand how to verify information, and how to debunk falsehoods. Through case studies and readings, this course builds students’ knowledge of the functions of government, politics, civil liberties and civil rights.

  • Credits: 3 + 1 (Lab)
  • Example Course Equivalency: POLI 101

PHIL 121: Introduction to Critical Thinking: Learning to Think Critically and Creatively

The main aim of this course is to recognize and reduce cognitive bias. This is the universal, irresistible and incorrigible tendency of human beings to favor the evidence justifying hypotheses, beliefs or expectations previously endorsed and to ignore, or not give enough importance to the evidence disconfirming them. This course teaches students to consider things in a new way, propose alternatives, or give innovative solutions to problems. Similarly, coursework encourages students to think critically to see the potential flaws of long-held beliefs, claims, or arguments and processes of reasoning. 

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: PHIL 121

SOC 201: Identity, Politics, & Equity

This course challenges students critically to analyse how identity – as defined by others and oneself – shapes societies, culture, politics, and the distribution of power, and, equally, how societies, culture, politics and the distribution of power shape identity. Drawing from media, texts, course field studies and intercultural experiences through living in London, students will reflect on the dynamic roles of ethnicity, gender, nationality, and socio-economic status in determining relationships within communities. It is anticipated that students will leave the course having acquired critical understanding and inquiry tools to serve in crafting greater equity in relationships, ranging from the interpersonal to those between nations.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 101

SOC 202: International Development

International development as a sector claims it is creating a better world. In this course, students examine a wide range of development theorists from around the world. By interrogating each author’s assumptions, the class aims to understand the underlying values of various approaches to development. Throughout, the class will reflect on how each author defines and pursues justice, equity, and sustainability in their theory and work. We’ll pay particular attention to how culture and positionality influences perspective and values using examples from the local context.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 102

SOC 299: Global Health: Health in Culture and Context

This course asks students to consider who is ultimately responsible for public health. It examines the cultural, political, economic, and geographic contexts of meeting public health needs. Through fieldwork supporting local health initiatives and time spent with local community members, students gain dynamic perspectives on how communities define and meet their public health needs. Seminars and readings include investigations of how policy, the pharmaceutical industry, economics, gender, and history shape current challenges and opportunities.

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 101

Life & Academic Skills

ESE 101: College Readiness: Verto Seminar

Verto Seminar is an exploratory course designed to encourage students to investigate, reflect, make informed decisions, become more self-aware and globally conscious, and feel empowered to develop future educational and life goals.  In this course, students explore their roles as global citizens, gain awareness of the ins and outs of higher education, and apply this knowledge for personal growth.  They use evidence based research as a tool for asking purposeful questions, gaining knowledge and understanding, and making reasoned decisions.

  • Credits: 1
  • Example Course Equivalency: Seminar Course

Natural Sciences

ENVR 101: Introduction to Environmental Science

Creating and maintaining a sustainable relationship between humans and the environment is a complex and value laden process. This course examines the processes and values that affect sustainability with relation to food systems, production, consumption, and pollution. Through fieldwork with local farmers and community initiatives focused on conservation and sustainability, students observe natural systems in their cultural, economic, political, and human contexts. Texts and seminars challenge students to examine the core assumptions and values that share various perspectives on environmental policies and resource management strategies.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ENVR 101
location map

Courses by Location

Global Impact Semester

SOC 299: Global Health: Health in Culture and Context

This course asks students to consider who is ultimately responsible for public health. It examines the cultural, political, economic, and geographic contexts of meeting public health needs. Through fieldwork supporting local health initiatives and time spent with local community members, students gain dynamic perspectives on how communities define and meet their public health needs. Seminars and readings include investigations of how policy, the pharmaceutical industry, economics, gender, and history shape current challenges and opportunities.

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 101

GOVT 201: American Government and Politics: An Exploration of Truth in American Politics & GOVT 299L: American Government and Politics Experiential Learning Lab

Asking the essential question “Does our democracy require truth?,” Truth and American Politics is an active exploration of the importance of credible information in American society, specifically in politics and government. As you take this course during an election year, you’ll examine your own experience as a citizen and apply your new knowledge in real-time. Analyze political discourse and the circulation of online information to determine credible sources, understand how to verify information, and how to debunk falsehoods. Through case studies and readings, this course builds students’ knowledge of the functions of government, politics, civil liberties and civil rights.

  • Credits: 3 + 1 (Lab)
  • Example Course Equivalency: POLI 101

PHIL 121: Introduction to Critical Thinking: Learning to Think Critically and Creatively

The main aim of this course is to recognize and reduce cognitive bias. This is the universal, irresistible and incorrigible tendency of human beings to favor the evidence justifying hypotheses, beliefs or expectations previously endorsed and to ignore, or not give enough importance to the evidence disconfirming them. This course teaches students to consider things in a new way, propose alternatives, or give innovative solutions to problems. Similarly, coursework encourages students to think critically to see the potential flaws of long-held beliefs, claims, or arguments and processes of reasoning. 

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: PHIL 121

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ESE 101: College Readiness: Verto Seminar

Verto Seminar is an exploratory course designed to encourage students to investigate, reflect, make informed decisions, become more self-aware and globally conscious, and feel empowered to develop future educational and life goals.  In this course, students explore their roles as global citizens, gain awareness of the ins and outs of higher education, and apply this knowledge for personal growth.  They use evidence based research as a tool for asking purposeful questions, gaining knowledge and understanding, and making reasoned decisions.

  • Credits: 1
  • Example Course Equivalency: Seminar Course

Hawaii Field Semester

SOC 101: Identity, Politics, & Equity

This course challenges students critically to analyse how identity – as defined by others and oneself – shapes societies, culture, politics, and the distribution of power, and, equally, how societies, culture, politics and the distribution of power shape identity. Drawing from media, texts, course field studies and intercultural experiences through living in London, students will reflect on the dynamic roles of ethnicity, gender, nationality, and socio-economic status in determining relationships within communities. It is anticipated that students will leave the course having acquired critical understanding and inquiry tools to serve in crafting greater equity in relationships, ranging from the interpersonal to those between nations.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 101

ANTH 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

This course examines the meaning of culture, methods of studying cultural settings, and structures for comparing elements of cultures around the world. Through this course, students will examine the ways in which religion and ideology, social stratification, and symbolic expression defines a culture. This course is designed to provide students with a framework for exploring the meaning of complex social phenomena, many of which they’ll observe during their travels abroad. Furthermore, this course is meant to provide students with the tools to analyze elements of culture around the world in a academically rigorous manner.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ANTH 101

ENVR 101: Introduction to Environmental Science

Creating and maintaining a sustainable relationship between humans and the environment is a complex and value laden process. This course examines the processes and values that affect sustainability with relation to food systems, production, consumption, and pollution. Through fieldwork with local farmers and community initiatives focused on conservation and sustainability, students observe natural systems in their cultural, economic, political, and human contexts. Texts and seminars challenge students to examine the core assumptions and values that share various perspectives on environmental policies and resource management strategies.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ENVR 101

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ENG 102: World Literature

The Contemporary World Literature course is a survey of texts exploring themes relevant to Verto students as they immerse themselves in their experience abroad. It includes travel writing from around the world, literature of the country students are studying in, and literature of global diaspora groups. Students will examine both form and content, improve their ability to critique a diverse body of literature, and develop more effective written communication skills.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 102

London Campus Semester

HIST 101: Modern European History

This course provides an introduction to modern European history and examines how modern Europe has become one of the most important centers for historical change and development. Students will become familiar with the geography of Europe and the main strands of its historical development since the 18th century. The course will also provide a brief overview of the formation of European power and identity prior to this date. The course moves forward chronologically but the seminars are also given specific thematic foci so that students are introduced to key issues in European politics, society, economics and culture.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: HIST 101

SOC 101: Identity, Politics, & Equity

This course challenges students critically to analyse how identity – as defined by others and oneself – shapes societies, culture, politics, and the distribution of power, and, equally, how societies, culture, politics and the distribution of power shape identity. Drawing from media, texts, course field studies and intercultural experiences through living in London, students will reflect on the dynamic roles of ethnicity, gender, nationality, and socio-economic status in determining relationships within communities. It is anticipated that students will leave the course having acquired critical understanding and inquiry tools to serve in crafting greater equity in relationships, ranging from the interpersonal to those between nations.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 101

ECON 101: International Business

This course has been designed to introduce students to the complex world of International Business. As globalisation has led to more and more international business activity, most products consumed daily have become dependent upon the intricate links and alliances that are a feature of doing business in a global economy. Understandably then, the primary objective of this course is to guide students towards a better understanding of the global business environment in a post-Covid 19 world and develop an appreciation of the opportunities available to, and limitations imposed upon, business activities in this environment. This course is further designed to provide students with an introduction to the forces that both drive and limit globalisation, and examine questions concerning the sustainability of current models given the pressures that appear to be emerging as the world adapts to the new priorities arising from the recent pandemic experience.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ECON 101

POLI 101: Politics of Britain and the European Union

The View from London: Politics of Britain and the European Union provides students with a uniquely London-situated perspective on the politics of Britain and the EU. The course focuses on three themes: i) the political history of Britain and the EU, including imperialism and the world wars; ii) the political, economic and legal institutions of Britain and Europe; and iii) current political challenges facing both Britain and Europe, including Brexit, migration and populism. Each theme is brought alive through engagement with London’s historical landmarks and museums, including: Greenwich and the Naval Museum, the Imperial War Museum, Westminster, Bank of England, Guildhall, and the Old Bailey.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: POLI 101

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ENG 102: World Literature

The Contemporary World Literature course is a survey of texts exploring themes relevant to Verto students as they immerse themselves in their experience abroad. It includes travel writing from around the world, literature of the country students are studying in, and literature of global diaspora groups. Students will examine both form and content, improve their ability to critique a diverse body of literature, and develop more effective written communication skills.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 102

South Pacific Field Semester

SOC 101: Identity, Politics, & Equity

This course challenges students critically to analyse how identity – as defined by others and oneself – shapes societies, culture, politics, and the distribution of power, and, equally, how societies, culture, politics and the distribution of power shape identity. Drawing from media, texts, course field studies and intercultural experiences through living in London, students will reflect on the dynamic roles of ethnicity, gender, nationality, and socio-economic status in determining relationships within communities. It is anticipated that students will leave the course having acquired critical understanding and inquiry tools to serve in crafting greater equity in relationships, ranging from the interpersonal to those between nations.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 101

ANTH 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

This course examines the meaning of culture, methods of studying cultural settings, and structures for comparing elements of cultures around the world. Through this course, students will examine the ways in which religion and ideology, social stratification, and symbolic expression defines a culture. This course is designed to provide students with a framework for exploring the meaning of complex social phenomena, many of which they’ll observe during their travels abroad. Furthermore, this course is meant to provide students with the tools to analyze elements of culture around the world in a academically rigorous manner.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ANTH 101

ENVR 101: Introduction to Environmental Science

Creating and maintaining a sustainable relationship between humans and the environment is a complex and value laden process. This course examines the processes and values that affect sustainability with relation to food systems, production, consumption, and pollution. Through fieldwork with local farmers and community initiatives focused on conservation and sustainability, students observe natural systems in their cultural, economic, political, and human contexts. Texts and seminars challenge students to examine the core assumptions and values that share various perspectives on environmental policies and resource management strategies.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ENVR 101

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ENG 102: World Literature

The Contemporary World Literature course is a survey of texts exploring themes relevant to Verto students as they immerse themselves in their experience abroad. It includes travel writing from around the world, literature of the country students are studying in, and literature of global diaspora groups. Students will examine both form and content, improve their ability to critique a diverse body of literature, and develop more effective written communication skills.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 102

Madrid Campus Semester

HIST 101: Modern European History

This course provides an introduction to modern European history and examines how modern Europe has become one of the most important centers for historical change and development. Students will become familiar with the geography of Europe and the main strands of its historical development since the 18th century. The course will also provide a brief overview of the formation of European power and identity prior to this date. The course moves forward chronologically but the seminars are also given specific thematic foci so that students are introduced to key issues in European politics, society, economics and culture.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: HIST 101

ANTH 101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

This course examines the meaning of culture, methods of studying cultural settings, and structures for comparing elements of cultures around the world. Through this course, students will examine the ways in which religion and ideology, social stratification, and symbolic expression defines a culture. This course is designed to provide students with a framework for exploring the meaning of complex social phenomena, many of which they’ll observe during their travels abroad. Furthermore, this course is meant to provide students with the tools to analyze elements of culture around the world in a academically rigorous manner.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ANTH 101

SPAN 101: Beginner Spanish Language

This course blends a focus on grammar and vocabulary acquisition with real world Spanish immersion. Students will have opportunities to put their Spanish language skills to use outside the classroom. This course is equivalent to an elementary Spanish language course and includes vocabulary development, grammar, sentence structure, spoken language proficiency, and cultural understanding.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: Spanish 101

SPAN 201: Intermediate Spanish Language

This course blends a focus on communication with grammatical rigor and vocabulary acquisition, in a real-world Spanish immersion context. During class seminars, students will be exposed to Spanish in different communicative situations and will engage with the language in different manners, ranging from simply reacting to input to negotiating their way through a task. Spanish will be the primary language of instruction and the majority of class time will be spent on task-based, communicative activities. Students entering this course will need to complete a short placement test.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: Spanish 201

ECON 102: Spanish Economics within the European Union

Students will first develop a solid understanding of the historical evolution of the concept of European cultural and political identity to contextualize how Spain’s membership in the European Union has influenced national economic and monetary policies. A working knowledge of its institutions, common policies, decision-making processes and role in international affairs will enable students to understand the role of Spain within the European Union and the costs and benefits derived from the implementation of micro and macroeconomic policies since Spain’s accession in 1986.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ECON 102

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ENG 102: World Literature

The Contemporary World Literature course is a survey of texts exploring themes relevant to Verto students as they immerse themselves in their experience abroad. It includes travel writing from around the world, literature of the country students are studying in, and literature of global diaspora groups. Students will examine both form and content, improve their ability to critique a diverse body of literature, and develop more effective written communication skills.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 102

Latin America Field Semester

SOC 299: Global Health: Health in Culture and Context

This course asks students to consider who is ultimately responsible for public health. It examines the cultural, political, economic, and geographic contexts of meeting public health needs. Through fieldwork supporting local health initiatives and time spent with local community members, students gain dynamic perspectives on how communities define and meet their public health needs. Seminars and readings include investigations of how policy, the pharmaceutical industry, economics, gender, and history shape current challenges and opportunities.

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 101

ENVR 101: Introduction to Environmental Science

Creating and maintaining a sustainable relationship between humans and the environment is a complex and value laden process. This course examines the processes and values that affect sustainability with relation to food systems, production, consumption, and pollution. Through fieldwork with local farmers and community initiatives focused on conservation and sustainability, students observe natural systems in their cultural, economic, political, and human contexts. Texts and seminars challenge students to examine the core assumptions and values that share various perspectives on environmental policies and resource management strategies.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: ENVR 101

SOC 102: International Development

International development as a sector claims it is creating a better world. In this course, students examine a wide range of development theorists from around the world. By interrogating each author’s assumptions, the class aims to understand the underlying values of various approaches to development. Throughout, the class will reflect on how each author defines and pursues justice, equity, and sustainability in their theory and work. We’ll pay particular attention to how culture and positionality influences perspective and values using examples from the local context.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 102

HIST 102: Modern Latin American History

In this course, students will examine how the history and culture of Latin America constrain and advance opportunities for freedom and development in the region. This course is intended as an introduction to the cultures and societies of Latin America and contemporary issues in modern Latin American culture, politics, and economic systems. This course explores the history and culture of Latin American from the 20th century onwards. Students begin with the historical foundations needed to understand the context and trajectory of the region, before delving deeper into topics of present-day politics, economics, identity, religion, and social issues. Throughout the course, students draw upon their experiences outside of the classroom to inform their ideas and course assignments.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: HIST 102

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ENG 102: World Literature

The Contemporary World Literature course is a survey of texts exploring themes relevant to Verto students as they immerse themselves in their experience abroad. It includes travel writing from around the world, literature of the country students are studying in, and literature of global diaspora groups. Students will examine both form and content, improve their ability to critique a diverse body of literature, and develop more effective written communication skills.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 102

SPAN 101: Beginner Spanish Language

This course blends a focus on grammar and vocabulary acquisition with real world Spanish immersion. Students will have opportunities to put their Spanish language skills to use outside the classroom. This course is equivalent to an elementary Spanish language course and includes vocabulary development, grammar, sentence structure, spoken language proficiency, and cultural understanding.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: Spanish 101

SPAN 201: Intermediate Spanish Language

This course blends a focus on communication with grammatical rigor and vocabulary acquisition, in a real-world Spanish immersion context. During class seminars, students will be exposed to Spanish in different communicative situations and will engage with the language in different manners, ranging from simply reacting to input to negotiating their way through a task. Spanish will be the primary language of instruction and the majority of class time will be spent on task-based, communicative activities. Students entering this course will need to complete a short placement test.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: Spanish 201

Milan Campus Semester

Art 201: Leonardo da Vinci in Renaissance Milan

Leonardo Da Vinci: artist, engineer and genius, he is the model of the Renaissance artist. In this class we are going to discover his personal and professional life, studying the secrets of his talent and debunking the countless fake legends about him. Moreover, because of his personal and professional life, Leonardo is the perfect character to understand the Renaissance itself: walking on his footprints we are going to discover one of the most fascinating eras of human history.

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: ART 299

PHIL 121: Introduction to Critical Thinking: Learning to Think Critically and Creatively

The main aim of this course is to recognize and reduce cognitive bias. This is the universal, irresistible and incorrigible tendency of human beings to favor the evidence justifying hypotheses, beliefs or expectations previously endorsed and to ignore, or not give enough importance to the evidence disconfirming them. This course teaches students to consider things in a new way, propose alternatives, or give innovative solutions to problems. Similarly, coursework encourages students to think critically to see the potential flaws of long-held beliefs, claims, or arguments and processes of reasoning. 

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: PHIL 121

SOC 102: International Development

International development as a sector claims it is creating a better world. In this course, students examine a wide range of development theorists from around the world. By interrogating each author’s assumptions, the class aims to understand the underlying values of various approaches to development. Throughout, the class will reflect on how each author defines and pursues justice, equity, and sustainability in their theory and work. We’ll pay particular attention to how culture and positionality influences perspective and values using examples from the local context.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: SOC 102

Art 201: Leonardo da Vinci in Renaissance Milan

Leonardo Da Vinci: artist, engineer and genius, he is the model of the Renaissance artist. In this class we are going to discover his personal and professional life, studying the secrets of his talent and debunking the countless fake legends about him. Moreover, because of his personal and professional life, Leonardo is the perfect character to understand the Renaissance itself: walking on his footprints we are going to discover one of the most fascinating eras of human history.

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: ART 299

GEO 201: Reading Milan and Italian Cities: Place-making and Cultural Resources

This course is designed to introduce students to urban studies and – more broadly – to the interactions and crossovers between culture and the city. We will examine historical, theoretical, and practical issues regarding: 1) the urban post-industrial turn (the rise of creative industries; the setting up of cultural quarters; the importance of art and culture in place-making); 2) key social transformation/processes taking place in post-industrial cities (gentrification, creolization, festivalization, artification etc.); 3) urban cultures (artistic subcultures; creative class, cultural intermediaries and hipsters); 4 creative industries (fashion, design, food, advertising etc.)

  • Credits: 4
  • Example Course Equivalency: HIS 299

ENG 101: Rhetoric and Research I: Reading and Writing about Place

This course is designed to strengthen students’ writing mechanics and prepare students for the demands of academic writing. This course has been designed to develop writing and rhetoric skills by leveraging the experience Verto students are having outside of the classroom. Students will learn the importance of strong academic writing, develop strong academic prose, and explore the relationship between language and rhetoric. This course includes faculty- led seminars, writing workshops, peer reviews, and individual tutorials between students and faculty.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 101

ENG 102: World Literature

The Contemporary World Literature course is a survey of texts exploring themes relevant to Verto students as they immerse themselves in their experience abroad. It includes travel writing from around the world, literature of the country students are studying in, and literature of global diaspora groups. Students will examine both form and content, improve their ability to critique a diverse body of literature, and develop more effective written communication skills.

  • Credits: 3
  • Example Course Equivalency: English 102

Richard Bland College of William & Mary

Verto Education partners with Richard Bland College (RBC) as the Verto “school of record.” As the school of record, Richard Bland College documents and awards credits for courses taken by students at Verto Education. RBC collaborates with Verto to produce final transcripts for students to allow simplified transfer of credits to the receiving institution.

Academics & Faculty

Our accomplished faculty and staff work together to develop and deliver rigorous collegiate curriculum and support to Verto students. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to engage directly with the faculty during office hours and study halls. They’re also supported by Program Leaders who build community and Academic Success Coordinators who ensure students have the academic support to excel in Verto courses and beyond.

Verto Course Directors & Faculty

Photo: Karen Straight

Karen Straight, Ph.D., Course Director

Karen Straight is the Director of Student Services and Course Director for Global Health. Karen earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. With a long history of teaching at liberal arts colleges and universities, Karen has taken students abroad to study health, culture, and development in India, China, South Africa, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica. A traveling faculty member with Verto’s first semester abroad program, Karen has served in various roles within the organization since its inception. She encourages students to use social science perspectives to understand the world around them and the role they want to play in it while immersed in new and unfamiliar cultural environments. With an emphasis on the importance of applying knowledge and connecting theory to experience, Karen takes an interdisciplinary approach to instruction. She is eager to support students in an individualized manner on their study abroad journeys.

Photo: Ashley LaBoda

Ashley LaBoda, Ph.D., Course Director

  • Ph.D., Spanish Linguistics, University of Albany SUNY
  • M.A. Spanish Linguistics, University of Albany SUNY

Ashely has over ten years of experience designing and teaching Spanish Language and Linguistics at universities. In addition to positions at Franklin and Marshall College and George Washington University, Ashley has spent significant period conducting doctoral and professional research in Costa Rica.

Selected Publications
  • LaBoda, A. (2019). “Generalmente el Criol es empezamos en inglés y terminamos en español”: language attitudes and use in Puerto Limón.
  • In G. Leung, M. Loschky and H. Leusmann (Eds.), When Creole and Spanish Collide: Language and Cultural Contact in the Caribbean. Brill Publishers.
  • Promoting Intercultural competency and oral proficiency in intermediate Spanish through peer-to-peer video-conferencing—Scholarship of Teaching and Learning poster session—The George Washington University, Washington, DC.
  • “But it’s normal…”: Perceptions of linguistic varieties and language use among Afro-Costa Ricans 9th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics—Queens College, NY.
  • Variation in Limonese Creole-Spanish code-switching: A typological analysis Summer Meeting for the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics—University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
Photo: Kaycie Billmark Lawson

Kaycie (Billmark) Lawson, Ph.D., Course Director

  • Ph.D. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
  • B.S. Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University

Kaycie Lawson holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia and has spent nearly 20 years researching and instruction in interdisciplinary environmental science. Her field research and expeditions have taken her to Africa and the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica to study interactions between biogeochemical nutrient cycling and climate.

Selected Publications
  • Billmark, K.A. and T.J. Griffis. Influence of phenology and land-use on the isotopic composition of land-atmosphere CO2 exchange. In: Phenology of Ecosystem Processes. A. Noormets (ed.). 2009.
  • Lee X., Griffis, T.J., Baker, J.M., Billmark, K.A., Kim, K., and L.R. Welp (2009) Canopy-scale kinetic fractionation of atmospheric carbon dioxide and water vapor isotopes, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 23, GB1002, doi:10.1029/2008GB003331.
  • Griffis T.J., Sargent, S.D., Baker, J.M., Lee, X., Tanner, B.D., Greene, J., Swiatek, E., and K. Billmark (2008) Direct measurement of biosphere-atmosphere isotopic CO2 exchange using the eddy covariance technique, Journal of Geophysical Research- Atmospheres, 113, D08304, doi: 10.1029/2007JD009297
  • Welp L.R, Lee, X., Kim, K., Griffis, T.J., Billmark, K., and J.M. Baker (2008) 18O of evapotranspiration and the sites of leaf evaporation in a soybean canopy, Plant Cell and Environment, 31, 1214-1228, doi:10.1111/j.1365-3040.2008.01826.x
  • Billmark, K.A., R.J. Swap, and S.A. Macko. 2005. Stable isotope and GC/MS geochemical characterization of southern African aerosols. S. African J. of Science Vol. 101, 177-179.
  • Fang, J., M. Uhle, K.A. Billmark, D.H. Bartlett, and C. Kato. 2005. Fractionation of carbon isotopes in biosynthesis of fatty acids by a piezophilic bacterium Moritella japonica strain DSK1. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta Vol. 70(7), 1753-1760.
  • Billmark, K.A., R.J. Swap, and S.A. Macko. 2003. Characterization of sources for southern African aerosols through fatty acid and trajectory analyses. J. of Geophysical Research Vol. 108, No. D13, 8503, doi: 10.1029/2002JD002762.
  • Billmark et al. 1995. Contamination Source Review for Building E5974, Edgewood Area, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Energy Systems Division. Argonne National Laboratory. US DOE
Photo: Gabriela Vitela

Gabriela Vitela, Ph.D., Course Director

Gabi is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where she teaches courses on American politics, campaigns and elections and race and gender. She grew up in Dallas, Texas and went on to get an M.A and a PhD in Political Science from Louisiana State University where she focused on the effects of race and gender on congressional candidates.

Photo: Shastri Akella

Shastri Akella, Ph.D., Course Director

Shastri Akella earned his PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he previously earned an MFA in Creative Writing. He has 8 years of teaching experience in the fields of composition, world film, literature, and migration, and in 2016 he won the Distinguished Teaching Award that is accorded to two of the nearly 1,500 TAs who work at his university. His writing is available in Guernica, Electric Literature, PANK, The Common, LA Review of Books, and European Stages, among other places.

Photo: Danny Marrero

Danny Marrero, Ph.D., Course Director

Danny Marrero has more than twenty years teaching in a variety of universities, in undergraduate and graduate programs, from both North and South America. Working for all these institutions has given him the invaluable experience of sharing worldviews with a vast diversity of undergraduate and graduate students having different nationalities, religious beliefs, genders, and expectations. The core of his courses is the teaching and learning of critical thinking. His strong intuition here is that simply learning theories of critical thinking is not the best way to improve a student’s thinking skills. Instead, students should practice the basic activities allowing successful processes of reasoning. The fascinating issues that arise at the intersection between Law and Philosophy have been the inspiration for Danny’s academic growth, leading him to earn two BAs: one in philosophy, one in law, an LLM, and an MA, plus a PhD in Philosophy. His interdisciplinary education was brilliantly enriched by his immersion in the U.S. culture after he was honored with the Fulbright Fellowship to achieve postgraduate studies in the United States, coming from Colombia. He enjoys exploring the American culture, and redefining his Latin American heritage with his two adorable daughters and wife, the three of them from the U.S.

Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy, Director of Programming

Erin Murphy is Director of Programming for Verto. She is new to the Verto team and brings 10 years of experience in program operations, experiential learning, and international education. Originally from VA, Erin lived in Thailand for 3 years after college, made her way through a couple US cities, and just moved to North Carolina. Erin is passionate about helping students connect with each other and local culture while traveling. She holds a master’s in International Education Policy from Harvard.

The Verto Academic Team

Photo: Michael Kabbaz

Michael Kabbaz

Vice President for Institutional Partnerships

Prior to joining Verto’s team, Michael served in a number of senior higher education roles at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and the University of Richmond. Previously, he served on the College Board, overseeing higher education services for the Midwest in Chicago and was responsible for creating the higher education office within the Advanced Placement Program. He has also consulting with dozens of institutions and served in admissions at Xavier University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in Leadership in Learning Organizations at Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education.

Photo: Liz Le

Liz Le

Verto College Counselor

Liz launched her career in both private and public higher education in student support, and after a decade of experience, returned to school to complete her M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education. She has since served as the Registrar and later Director of Student Services at Fusion Academies, as well as a School Counselor at West Michigan Aviation Academy. She comes to Verto after serving as an Independent Educational Consultant and serves as a liaison and supporter for Verto students with partner and non-partner institutions.

Verto Curriculum Coordinator

Photo: Julia Coursey

Julia Coursey, Course Director

  • MFA, Creative Writing, University of Alabama
  • B.A., History of Math and Science, Philosophy, St. John’s College

Julia Coursey is an experienced educator, particularly of college-level English and writing course, which she has delivered successfully in a variety of settings, including field semesters and virtual learning. In addition to professional writing and instructional credentials, Julia is a Fulbright Research Fellow.

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