A centre in Malta is aiming to allow students to combine the study of the island's famous Baroque architecture with the study of the period's scientific revolution.
Denis de Luca, director of Malta's International Institute for Baroque Studies, who has developed the centre, said: "Any study of the baroque covers much more than music, theatre, art and architecture. I am hoping to expand the institute's work to include science and medicine. There was a scientific revolution in the period and it ought to be possible to include a study of baroque medicine in future programmes."
Work on establishing the institute started in 1994 following an initiative from the university's then rector, Peter Serracino Inglott. Mr de Luca, as dean of the faculty of architecture and civil engineering, took on the project and he has seen baroque studies through to a point where, starting last October, the institute has begun to offer masters degrees.
"The baroque period is covered in one semester for undergraduates studying architecture and urban planning but we also involve arts and architecture undergraduate students in restoration projects that the institute undertakes.
"Those taking the MA will study the political, religious, intellectual and scientific aspects of the period as well as art and architecture, fortification building, theatre, literature and conservation philosophy and techniques."
Mr de Luca's team is creating a baroque publications database and producing a regular newsletter for researchers into this Catholic cultural phenomenon.
"We have always been expected to liaise with others studying in the field," Mr de Luca said. "We have contacts for instance with the Centro Internazionale di Studi sul Baroco in Sicily, with the Council of Europe and with the Bayerisches Landescamt Fur Denkmalpflege in Munich."
From the outset the institute has organised public lectures and exhibitions to encourage a greater appreciation of the baroque period and to promote the notion of baroque studies within the academic community.
"The baroque represented a huge flowering in the Catholic world," Mr de Luca explained.
"Faced by the Reformation, Catholicism fought back in a way that created beautiful music, beautiful art and architecture and, of course, powerful politics," he added.