Enel and Ashoka, innovation creates a new model

Published on Monday, 15 January 2018

Brindisi is Southern Italy’s historical gateway to the East. Once again the city is the starting point for a great enterprise, namely a three-year partnership between Enel and Ashoka. Since 1980 Ashoka has been the driving force behind social innovation projects in over 80 countries, training future generations of students using methods that focus on innovation and self-sufficient enterprise.

On 29 November the Palazzo Granafei-Verdegna was the setting for an event to mark the forging of an important partnership between Ashoka and Enel. “Brindisi - a new model” brought together lecturers, educators and social innovators from around the region, with the support of the San Zeno Foundation. Its objective is to contribute to change based on training and sustainable enterprise.

“We’d like to work extensively with young people who want to develop their own ideas but don’t have the technical means to do so,” said Maria Cristina Papetti, Head of Enel’s Sustainability Projects and Practice Sharing. “That’s the vital contribution we can make through our collaboration with Ashoka.”

Ashoka Italy Head Lorenzo Newman then spoke, highlighting the need for everyone to be able to become an agent of change. The Puglia region’s key players, in terms of scholastic innovation, also took part. So did two technical schools which, together with Brindisi’s Majorana Technical College, are part of the group of five institutions chosen by Ashoka for its international network of Changemaker Schools. In recent years the Majorana Technical College has created self-published books, relaxation areas in class and smart tablets and boards. It is also the first school in Italy to use the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The Collegio del Mondo Unito U.W.C. Adriatic in Duino, on the other hand, has assumed the role of international college, with over 200 young people from 100 countries. Its personalisable curriculum can include voluntary work and campus life, with a view to developing multicultural attitudes and individual autonomy at the same time. This trio of Italian scholastic excellence is completed by a school in Parma, the liceo Attilio Bertolucci , which holds educational courses on peace, coding and 3D printing. It also has its own educational publishing staff, as well as a participatory governance programme.

Direct experience of self-sufficiency programmes was shared by Luciana Delle Donne, who is both an Ashoka Fellow and the founder of Made in Carcere (Made in Prison). This brand is run by a non-profit social cooperative and offers “differently useful” products handmade by women in prison in Lecce and Trani. Other experts in teaching innovation were also present. They included Daniele Manni, a candidate for the Global Teacher Prize and the founder of iStartup. He is from Salento, as is Maria Luisa Sardelli, Head of the Istituto Tecnico Tecnologico Giorgi. She described the design experience at the institute, which won first and fourth place in the national Robocup 2017 competition in the Rescue Line category.

Santi Giuffré, a Brindisi city commissioner, and Giuseppe Marinò, Chairman of Confindustria Brindisi (the local office of the Italian equivalent of the CBI – ed), also spoke, describing the praiseworthy initiative as a means of changing attitudes among young entrepreneurs and nurturing regional roots.

When students, trainers and enterprises pool their resources, then society takes a step forward. The first move was made in Brindisi, and with Enel’s collaboration, scholastic innovation can make further progress. 

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