Just weeks after the celebrations for the first lecture given at the Department of Sociology, the University meets its community again to inaugurate the academic year 2022/23. The ceremony took place this morning in the auditorium of the Paolo Prodi Building in Trento. It opened with the academic procession, which was followed by addresses by the representatives of University bodies and the lecture by the guest speaker, Francesca Bria, president of CDP Venture Capital SGR National Innovation Fund.
“The year that is coming to an end has been very important, it marked 60 years since the foundation of our University”, said Rector Flavio Deflorian. “The world has changed a lot since then, and it makes me think of what it meant, really, to have a vision of the future. That is why I want to ask you this: is the University still a strategic asset for the territory? How can our University contribute to the development of Trentino and its community? As I ask these questions, our country is going through some difficult times. Italy is struggling with the impact of the economic and social crisis, the pandemic, the war, the consequences of climate change, the increase of energy prices and the pressure of migrations.”
The Rector mentioned in particular the delegation of power to the Province concerning the University, which was introduced in 2009 with the 'Milan agreement', and the need to update the University Charter. “The Charter of the University of Trento was approved in 2012, when the delegation of power was in place and after the University reform. Based on the delegation of power, the Autonomous Province of Trento was given an institutional role that no other entity has in the Italian university system. I wonder and I am asking you now, to start a discussion on this topic, what is the meaning of this special autonomy in 2022. Is the Province making the most of the delegation of power, given the University’s strategic role for the territory, or this autonomy is only on paper, serving a political objective that aims to reinforce the idea of regional and special autonomy? Is our Charter still effective and up to date with current needs? Can we make it better? Does it represent all the components of the University community? These are legitimate questions in my view, now that ten years have passed”. “In these ten years - the Rector continued - the national legal framework changed too, and this calls at least for a review of the Charter. That is why we have started a review process to improve certain aspects and make it an instrument that will be used to tackle future challenges. This review will involve the academic community and the Province”.
The president of the Student Council, Edoardo Giudici, addressed the audience for the last time before the end of his term and touched on the student election that was to take place the following day. He made an overview of the results achieved by student representatives during his two-year term and talked about the situation of young graduates in Italy: “Less than 30% of the under-30s have a job. Of these, almost 40% are overqualified for their level of employment. Jobs often include unpaid internships. This is the reason why every year some 31,000 graduates leave Italy. On teaching and learning, the president said that more must be done to meet students’ needs: methods should be renewed taking advantage of the opportunities offered by technology, as students need more hands-on learning and group work”.
Alex Pellacani, director general, remembered the importance of team work: «Now more than ever working in a team is fundamental to face the challenges ahead of us. We must be able to provide solid answers to many issues, from residence halls to the School of Medicine. First of all, however, the University has to make a step forward. The new strategic plan envisions an organizational renewal that will make the University more efficient, in particular through new infrastructures, upgraded IT systems, and the recruitment of qualified human resources”.
Daniele Finocchiaro, President of the Board of Directors, was the last representative of University bodies to take the floor: «The University of Trento is an example of excellence, and is open, dynamic, innovation-oriented. A workshop of ideas. The quality of the University of Trento is confirmed by performance indicators and objective facts. Add to this the relationship of the University with the territory: in Trentino, in the area of innovation, research and technology transfer, the real strategic asset is the bond that unites the education system, research centres, public organizations and the local business sector. A synergistic relationship of which Trentino is aware and proud”.
The inauguration lecture was given by Francesca Bria, an innovation economist and digital policy expert. She is the president of CDP Venture Capital SGR - National Innovation Fund and senior adviser of the European Commission for technology, innovation and digital policies. “At the point where we are now, our economy and society need to be redesigned. There are crises in the economy and public health sectors, climate and the environment, energy prizes, in addition to supply chain shocks, inflation and low employment with social tensions”, Bria said from the stage of the auditorium of the Prodi Building. “The pandemic triggered a sort of forced digitization of many aspects of our daily life. Artificial intelligence, algorithms, robotization and automation are also new forms of power that will use a lot of resources".
"Will digitization make the situation worse or will it help us lay the foundations for a renewed society? Speeding up the digitization process is not enough: we must steer it and make sure it is socially and environmentally sustainable. Civil liberties, privacy issues and the functioning of democracies must be the focus of attention.
And smart cities will play a key role: Cities are fundamental to promote a model of European digital sovereignty, which safeguards our strategic autonomy and competitivity, ensures the participation of citizens and workers, protects the environment, data and citizens’ rights".
The recording of the ceremony is available on the YouTube channel of the University of Trento.