Guest Speech | Maria Amata Garito, President, UniNettuno

Date:2022-04-07

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We are in the Island of Knowledge of the International Telematic University UNINETTUNO. These are the virtual spaces that allow teachers and students of several countries around the world to work together, but also to enjoy themselves and socialize. From above, we see the virtual campus of our university, the museum, the lecture halls, the coffee bar, the tennis fields, the faculties’ buildings.

 

All institutions that are part of the globalized and interconnected knowledge society should find the courage to reinvent themselves through the Internet, the most powerful platform in history.

 

Universities should be at the core of the knowledge society: they should be the key protagonists of development; they should provide tools in order to allow people interacting on the Web, being aware of cultural, religious and political differences.

 

In order to build an infrastructure for the 21st century higher education, we ought to add a technological infrastructure to the universities’ physical one. This will foster a new model of knowledge production and delivery. A network of Knowledge Alliances will be possible by establishing consortia involving both universities and businesses from different parts of the world.

 

Those consortia promote the development of networks, meeting the educational needs of a globalized and interconnected society. The creation of a higher education global network, in which teachers and students from different places of the world participate in the collaborative knowledge construction, is not a utopia.

 

Our International Telematic University UNINETTUNO was born from a consortium of 41 Italian and 31 foreign Universities, which is Consorzio NETTUNO – Network per

L'Università Ovunque. Today, thanks to UNINETTUNO, we built a technological network - as well as a network of people, able to connect and share their knowledge being aware of cultural, political, religious and economic differences.

 

Jointly, we developed and keep on developing common spaces, real and virtual, of knowledge, shared academic curricula and shared psycho-pedagogic models that help harmonizing educational systems on a global scale.

 

The interaction between students and teachers coming from different countries is at the core of the entire educational process: jointly they develop collaborative and constructive learning by using interactive classrooms and virtual classrooms in immersive 3D environments.

 

The richness of cultural exchanges in the educational virtual spaces, among individuals belonging to different backgrounds, even few years ago was unpredictable, whereas, today UNINETTUNO’s students come from 167 different countries.

 

“What I learnt from this experience is that I have to think with my own head.”

“A model of cooperation for which Italy should pride herself,” says Egypt’s

Education Minister.

“48 out of 50 of us have already found jobs here in Cairo.”

 

In the present historical time more than ever, I think it is essential to enhance the cooperation in the fields of university and research. We should all be aware that developing online educational contents, jointly with worldwide universities, is strategically important: it allows to develop the knowledge that helps all citizens to consider cultural, religious and political differences as a richness for humankind and not as tools of conflict and war.

 

We cannot simply ignore conflicts taking place around the world because, due to the effects of globalization, they could have a more and more disruptive impact on our freedom. Past experience confirms that it is possible to share with the universities belonging to different political and cultural backgrounds, common paths of reflection and thinking.

 

The interconnected intelligences of teachers and students from all parts of the world build new knowledge and develop a network, not based on the imposition of the cultural models of one or the other, but based on the dialogue among different cultures and educational models.

 

Together we developed a true laboratory enabling younger generations to become drivers of change. We should all be aware that this cooperation allows us to build a new balance between unity and diversity: unity of values and traditions that past memory conveys and diversity of cultures and languages.

 

The 21st Century requires a new model of university: a virtual university under open skies, with no boundaries, a university where we build competences for development and lay the foundations for building the future together. Thank you.


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