Plan Your Visit

University Coursework

The same eruption that famously destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii also covered a number of other sites, including an exquisite luxury villa at Oplontis. After nearly 2,000 years of burial, artifacts from this archaeological site, never previously available to the public, will be displayed in an exceptional exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies— Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii.

Register for a course designed to engage with material from this outstanding MOR exhibition.

These current listings are tentative and subject to change.

Su16 Class Offerings

ARTH 492: Leisure & Luxury in the Age of Nero: the Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii (second summer session) - 3 credits
This course will use as its focus of study the Roman exhibit of the same name that will be at the Museum of the Rockies concurrently with the class. The bulk of the material, which includes fresco fragments and marble sculpture from the villa’s gardens, has been in storage and archives and never previously exhibited. The exhibit explores the lavish lifestyle and economic interests of ancient Rome’s wealthiest citizens along the shores of the Bay of Naples from the first century BC until AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried many towns and villas in the region. The museum exhibit will serve as the principle “text” and also the location of the class, for student to study the colonnaded architecture, monumental wall paintings, impressive gardens, and sculptures of Villa A, all of which combined to “stage” the villa’s elite owners for an audience of peers and rivals.


F16 Core Class Offerings

ARTZ 105RA: Visual Language: Drawing (all sections) - 3 credits
This drawing fundamental class will regularly use the exhibition as a source for constructing drawings exploring the fundamental language of drawing.

ARTZ 109RA: Visual Language: Comprehensive Foundations (sections 001 + 002-007) - 3 credits
This 2D/3D design fundamental class will regularly engage with the exhibit to better understand contemporary strategies of 2D and 3D design elements and principles through traditions of decoration in ancient Roman times.

ERTH 102CS: Oplontis in Ash and Ink - 3 sections - 1 credit each
ERTH 102CS-00X   Oplontis: the Setting (Aug 29-Sept 26)
To fully appreciate the significance of past volcanic activity in and around Italy, the first course will delve into the modern geologic/tectonic setting of the region. It will combine this understanding of the physical geologic evidence with literary evidence about the eruption and life in the region during the Empire. We will also look at the social framework and cultural setting at the time of the eruption. Furthermore, we will consider texts that describe villas like those at Oplontis (Pliny’s letters, Statius’ Silvae) and compare these literary landscapes with what is preserved of physical landscapes.
ERTH 102CS-00X Oplontis: the Eruption (Oct 3-31)
The second course will focus on the event of the eruption itself. It will examine exactly what happened on an hourly basis, and consider how different regions around the Bay of Naples were affected. Additionally, an enormous amount of the physical evidence we use to reconstruct life in the Roman Empire depends upon the unique preservation that resulted from Vesuvius’ eruption in AD 79. Understanding the particular geologic conditions that created different states of preservation is integral to comprehending the material evidence we rely upon in reconstructing the past. For example, in this course we will explore how the preservation at Pompeii differs from that at Oplontis as a result of geologic conditions (structural setting, stratigraphy of geologic deposits, geochemical overprint of deposits and preserved materials)
ERTH 102CS-00X   Oplontis: Hazards and Consequences (Nov 7-Dec 9)
The third course will center on the hazards and consequences of living in the shadow of volcanoes. We will explore the ethical issues surrounding settlement of areas where a future eruption is inevitable. We will also compare the threat from volcanic activity in the Bay of Naples to volcanic hazards in our own Yellowstone region and the Cascades. 

US 101US: First Year Seminar: Place & Identity - 3 credits
This multi-disciplinary course, presented in seminar format, draws from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, history, art, and philosophy to encourage students to explore issues critical to their academic goals and objectives. This semester, the course will utilize the MOR exhibition as a source of inspiration and inquiry to examine how place, time, and identity form experience, whether that experience is in the first-year classroom at Montana State University, or in the villas and landscapes of ancient Naples. The course will investigate the following:  an Education that Matters; Tourism, Wonder, and Imagination; Luxury & Service in the Economics of Leisure; Power & Control of Landscape and Object; and the Ethics of Place. Fulfills university seminar (US) requirement of the core curriculum. This course cannot be repeated.


F16 Other Class Offerings

CAA 491-00X Special Topics: Occupation and Ownership of Desire: Mapping Leisure and Luxury - 3 credits
The course will utilize the historic site and context of the Roman villa as a departure point for examining extractive occupation of the landscape in our region.  The Villa Oplontis constructed in the Bay of Naples is an example of consuming a desired landscape and experience without any concern for the non-mutualistic inhabitation of place.  Furthermore, it evidences the significant infrastructure required for such an occupation by so few people.  This type of occupation can be seen in many places throughout the present day mountain west region.  This course will map systems of extraction in both the historic Bay of Naples and the present Mountain West region ranging from raw materials to experience.  We will examine these systems at a multitude of scales and complexities to understand them as their own ecologies.  The mapping will identify proactive ways of engaging in these systems and propose interventions that can be implemented for positive change, moving us away from reactionary design and creating a mutualistic condition.

CAA 491-00X Special Topics: Materials, Methods, & Meaning: Decoration in Ancient Rome - 3 credits
This upper-level seminar class, limited to 20 students, will meet at the Museum of the Rockies on T/R from 5 to 6 p.m. and in Haynes Hall, room 107 on Fridays from 10 to 11:50. Both sections will meet at the same time (T/R) to hear lectures presented my Dr. Regina Gee and Dean Adams, participate in discussions, and to engage with the exhibit. Fridays will consist of studio art experiences as a way to better understand the elements of the exhibition through making. Projects will include sketchbook as research tool, fresco painting, ceramics, drawing, design, sculpture, jewelry, coin design and a capstone experience. One section will consist of a capstone assignment in the form of a research paper and the other section in the form of an art object.

PHL 312: Contemporary Moral Problems - 3 credits
This course will examine philosophical issues and concepts at the core of contemporary ethical debates.  Questions will include:  To whom do we have duties (for example, are there duties to the dead, fetuses, future generations, non-human animals?)  How should we understand rights, such as the right to property or the right to life and what should we do when rights conflict?  Is it ever legitimate to destroy cultural artifacts or confiscate property if it serves some significant scientific or social good? What principles should guide us in protecting the public from "risks" to health or wellbeing?  How should we understand concepts such as “equality” or “justice” and what sorts of obligations do they give rise to?

PHL 491: Special Topics - How do we know about the past? Evidence and Ethics in Practice - 1 credit
The central focus of this course will be to examine how we produce knowledge about the past, using the Museum of the Rockies as a source for accessing and assessing that evidence.  Questions would include: What sort of evidence can we have about the past? What counts as evidence? How are artifacts represented, and to what extent do values and interests shape that representation?  To what extent can representations of the past be said to be “objective” or reliable?  What are the ethical constraints on using human and animal remains as evidence?  To what extent is permissible to destroy evidence? This seminar will provide a unique opportunity to approach these issues in an interdisciplinary and practical way, by examining how different kinds of artifacts and data are used in archaeology, geology, chemistry, art history, architecture, biology, plant sciences, and ecology in order to tell us about the past and in particular life in Ancient Rome and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

BIOB 260: Cellular and Molecular Biology - 3 credits
The Fall 2016 class will include a project that incorporates the Oplontis exhibit.  


Sp17 Class Offerings

HONR 204D: Great Expeditions: Ethics, Politics, and Science from Ancient Rome to Today - 3 credits
Students interested in this course need to visit the exhibition in fall 2016
This course will compare and contrast the way in which science was practiced in Roman times and today.  Special attention will be given to the ways in which politics and wealth shaped science then and now.  Topics will include what counts as "science?"  Is there a meaningful distinction between, for example, science and medicine or technology?  What counts as "evidence" in different scientific disciplines?  Are there "objective" methods that characterize science? Can science be said to "progress" linearly towards the truth over time?  To what extent is science informed by value judgments? What are the ethical obligations of scientists?   The course will culminate in a trip to Italy where students will have the opportunity to conduct research on a particular area of interest.