Siena, the first sustainability summer school

Published on Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Learning about sustainability. The first training cycle of the Siena Summer School on Sustainable Development began on 10 September. The initiative was organised in collaboration with the Enel Foundation.

This is a first for Italy because the courses, which run until 21 September, provide a high-profile education and qualification covering subjects linked to sustainability. The 30 students admitted to the school were chosen from young people who graduated no more than five years ago, PhD students, research PhDs and young researchers, as well as administrators, public managers and policy makers. The school enables them to study both the scientific rationale behind sustainable development and the promotion, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of initiatives that can make a tangible contribution to achieving the SDGs (the goals in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development). This is also done by presenting specific cases and best practices that have already been adopted.

The launch of the Siena Summer School at the Santa Chiara Lab in the centre of the beautiful Tuscan city was preceded by the latest edition of the ASviS Festival, which was organised by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development. Together with SDS Network Italia and SDS Network Mediterranean, the Alliance ran the two weeks of courses also in collaboration with Leonardo, RUS (University Network for Sustainable Development), and the University of Siena.

From a historical point of view, the city of Siena is itself regarded as an example of balanced development, as it has always integrated financial, social and aesthetic needs. As professor Gabriella Piccini explained in the school’s inaugural lecture, a representation of this extraordinary harmony can be found in the famous Buon Governo (Good Government) frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in Siena’s Palazzo Pubblico. Painted in the 14th century, the work can be read as a precursor of today’s 17 sustainable development goals.

The Enel Foundation, together with Leonardo, has made available 20 Full Scholarships, as well as Partial Scholarships for all the students. Furthermore, five participants will be able to publish their projects in an e-book for university students on the subject of the UN’s SDGs that the Enel Foundation is developing with the Treccani Scuola publishing company.

The programme, which was drawn up in collaboration with the Enel Foundation, was divided into two lesson cycles. The first week involves a basic knowledge of the main challenges facing sustainable development through a multi-disciplinary approach, a study of the factors driving the world’s future and introductory training based on the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) initiative. The theme underpinning the second week’s work is sustainable development from a number of different points of view – corporate, scientific, political and so on – with work groups to develop practical ideas and projects. Giulia Genuardi, Enel’s Head of Sustainability Planning and Performance Management, spoke at the Summer School on 17 September.

Finally, one of the School’s objectives was to create an alumni network that will become the reference point in promoting the 2030 Agenda, also through the use of social media and other digital instruments. Watch the video Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Good Government.

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