An Inclusive University

Inclusion in the 21st Century

The most recent theoretical models and current reflections on inclusion began due to observations that Western societies are particularly complex and highly at risk of social, economic, and environmental crises, even more worrying than those that had been held in the past century. Due to this risk, investing in biodiversity, eco-sustainable development, pluralism, inter-culturalism, solidarity, educational cooperation and in the “co-construction of new trends, events and settings” is now considered to be necessary.

Disabilities represent a component of heterogeneity.

It has become increasingly necessary to emphasize the multiplicity of differences present in today’s social fabrics, as this is the main way for the individual and the community to grow. The context, intended as the set of circumstances that characterize the environment and the functionality of a person, has become such a pivotal point in this issue, insomuch as it is now considered more correct to focus on the community instead of the single individual.  Thus we invite you to consider those who populate the communities for which we are referencing.

  Heterogeneity in academic contexts

Differences are related to a series of variables including, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, religion, sexual orientation, age and disability, as well as an intersections of these. Heterogeneity, and the positive experience of it in the university context, is considered one of the main ways for the growth of complex thinking.

However, diversity tends to be under-represented in Italian universities. For example, considering some recent MIUR data, students with disabilities who enrol in university seem to be a very small percentage compared to those who had attended upper secondary school (high school).

The under-representation is considered a form of iniquity and addressed in the literature as 'minority issues'. Also in regards to disability we must speak about 'Bias in Concentrations' in that students with disabilities tend, for various reasons, to enrol only in certain degree courses. All of this is associated with students and their sense of belonging.  Such difficulties include a perceived sense of inadequate support, stereotyped methods of interaction, and ineffective time management of university life, each leading to various levels of discouragement.

Delegate for Inclusion and Disability

Laura Nota