Trajectories of the University of Padua

Starting from the Top Ten Universities

Among the Top Ten Universities chosen by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2015, including Harvard and Yale, particular focus was placed on services for 'Diversity and Inclusion' and on heterogeneity as a means for individual and social growth and a way to encourage new forms of 'intellectual cross-pollination'.

Significant actions include:

  • Promotion and welcoming actions centred on diversity (comprehensive multimedia materials and training for students)
  • Support services (mentoring and mental health programme) able of assist underrepresented groups and engage students in a ‘non-intimidating’ way
  • Periodic reports on discrimination (aimed at conveying the idea that the University is focused on creating a culture against any form of discrimination)
  • Support actions (also with students) within the University residences
  • Multicultural centres and spaces that focus on topics dealing with diversity, international awareness, as well as leadership skills through activism, advocacy, and mobilization
  • Exams focusing on diversity in all degree courses (to build a culture of diversity)

In the 2015 ‘Report of the College Working in Diversity and Inclusion’ Harvard University monitored actions regarding diversity and inclusion. The report showed that, in order to maintain high standards of excellence, universities must:

  • Organize “general” training activities in study programs centred on the challenges and advantages of a learning context that enhances heterogeneity in order to create a shared vocabulary and awareness.
  • Increase and monitor the exams that, in all degree courses, critically address topics associated with diversity.
  • Implement policies to reduce situations of excessive homogeneity in some departments.
  • Rethink the organization of central University spaces in order to underline the attention given to diversity.
  • Encourage the development of diversity management skills among teaching and technical-administrative staff (through specific training activities).
  • Promote a close relationship between services and research to develop an inclusive culture.

Trajectories

Things to consider as a result of what is happening in some excellent universities:

  1.  Complex contexts, such as large universities, should be aware of heterogeneity, implementing specific and wide-ranging actions.
  2.  Universities should focus on heterogeneity and diversity at different levels with cultural, control, and monitoring actions.
  3.  Quality services, both central and peripheral, should be improved and coordinated in their actions, with trained staff and with the collaboration of local actors (students, teachers, employees).
  4. Actions should be implemented in different sectors of university life, such as that of teaching, research and services
  5. Services, in complex contexts, must have an agentic role and must be able to attract people, just as they must be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work
  6. It is necessary to provide services in favour of socio-emotional well-being and to invest in University education in order to review the way of thinking about study, work and professional planning.

Delegate for Inclusion and Disability

Laura Nota