Detailed Program of the Conference

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The current Conference time is: 9th Aug 2022, 06:51:37pm CEST

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Overall view of the program
Parallel session - E.9.2 University and Active Citizenship. Didactic Practices and Methodological Trajectories for The Development of Creative and Critical Thinking
Saturday, 05/June/2021:
1:00pm - 3:15pm

Session Chair: Loretta Fabbri
Session Chair: Francesca Bianchi
Session Chair: Alessandra Romano
Location: Room 4

Session Panels:
E.9. University and Active Citizenship. Didactic Practices and Methodological Trajectories for the Development of Creative and Critical Thinking

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Claudio Melacarne

Università di Siena, Italia

We know that the European Union (EU) is a quite complex and dynamical legal and political system. An important point, however, is that people have the right to know exactly what is going on, ad described in Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Article 42) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 15). The EU space allow people to ask for receiving information about basically everything happening within the Union. People also have the legal right of ‘access to documents’ of all EU institutions. These possibilities that allow people to take part actively in public debate and institution is formally a right, but it has to be educated for becoming a real process (Mortari, 2008), and from EU Commission is clear that we have to choose in which of the five levels we want to promote active citizenship skills: local place, region, country and Europe. Into this scenario, the proposal will use the Brookfiled’s classification of “assumptions” to describe three methodological ways for developing active citizenship in Higher Education (Giampaolo, Melacarne, 2017). The Higher Education is not always involved in the debate on active citizenships, directly. How to introduce this task into curricula, as a specific content or an implicit learning outcome of discipline? The idea is to use the category described by Brookfiled for underlining the different area of interest that could be used at University. Brookfield describes assumptions (Brookfield, 1995) and divides them into three categories: paradigmatic assumptions, “structural axioms we use to give order to the world” (p. 2); prescriptive assumptions, “assumptions through which we expect that a certain thing must happen in a particular circumstance” (p. 3); causal assumptions, “assumptions that help us to understand how the different parts of a system work together and the conditions within which to imagine how to change this process” (p. 4). The proposal will show how the complex and transformative theories could explore different ways to work in Higher Education with a particular attention to Active Citizenship goals.

Short bibliography

Brookfield, S. (1995). Adult Learning: An Overview. International Encyclopedia of Education, 10, 375-380.

Council of Europe (2010), Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education

Fabbri, L., Romano, A., (2017). Metodi per l’apprendimento trasformativo, Roma: Carocci.

Giampaolo, M. & Melacarne, C. (2017). Apprendere e insegnare le competenze interculturali a scuola. Il progetto “I Have Rights”. Formazione, Lavoro, Persona n 22, 41-52. ISSN: 2039-4039.

Hoskins, B.L., Mascherini, M. (2009). Measuring Active Citizenship through the Development of a Composite Indicator. Soc Indic Res 90, 459–488.

Mortari, L. (2008) (a cura di). Educare alla cittadinanza partecipata. Milano: Mondadori.

Nicolaides, A., & Dzubinski, L. (2016). Collaborative developmental action inquiry: An opportunity for transformative learning to occur? Journal of Transformative Education, 14(2), 120–138.


Gabriele Di Palma

Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro", Italy

The paper analyzes the case of a web Geographic Information System, created to facilitate the participation of civil society and third sector organizations at the revitalization plan of the Libertà neighborhood of Bari. The City has set an integrated strategy of renovating its suburbs. The main target area is the Libertà district, close to the city center, a former working-class neighborhood with the characteristics of many European suburbs: unemployment, low schooling, high crime rate, increasing immigrant population. The Municipality is investing in the area European and national resources to establish new services, new squares and parks, and to sustain the creation of new businesses. Civil society is at the center of this intervention, called upon to co-produce and co-manage interventions and spaces, to create the common and relational goods that the neighborhood needs. The project questions the role of community mapping in shortening the distance between the local University and civil society. To do so, the author created a web GIS, Rigenerazione Libertà, in order to encourage participation and to strengthen trust between citizens and institutions. The research used a mixed method approach. The web GIS reprocesses an extensive qualitative analysis, administrative documents, open data, articles from the press and a questionnaire administered to a sample of businesses in the neighborhood. The theory-driven evaluation and the realistic evaluation were used to reconstruct program theories, in order to show users the logic of public policy design. The web GIS intended to support civic participation: the evaluation questionnaire instead shows a high self-selection bias. The quali-quantitative GIS suffers from the same limitations as public assemblies and arenas. According to respondents, the tool is not easily understandable by people with low schooling and it is only partially able to close the distance between public institutions, universities and people.


Ivan Daldoss

University of Padua, Italy

This work takes up the big challenge to innovate University education, providing a solution as old as it is still valid: using debate, conceived as a linguistic regulated relation among opposite parties, even at universities.

Debating is like playing chess: every match is a contest played within a strict set of rules and specific boundaries. The checkboard is the place where black and white pieces meet and interact. In the same way, during the debate, opposite thesis clash while every party tries to come up as the winner.

The project to improve higher educational processes via debating contests can draw inspiration from actual formative experiences, already tested in Italian high schools with positive results. Even during this pandemic period debates didn’t stop and were held online, showing how flexible and adaptable to the new digital world they are.

Moving from these experiences, new educational pathways can be developed at the University, seeing as debate is one of the “best practices” that should be spread to encourage the creation of stimulating learning environments.

This paper shows the necessity to practice Socratic debate as a methodological model to reach a dimension of truth and thus making rational decisions (choice based learning). The dynamic of dialectics allows a comparison among different and heterogeneous linguistic elements to evaluate which option is the more resistant and therefore preferable in a given context, even much complex as the current social reality.

This way, Socratic debate at universities is the ideal instrument to make students more conscious of their belonging to a community, through reflection and dialogue on various topics so they can take an active role to address citizenship issues, with fairness and wisdom.

Moreover, listening to others, contesting their thesis, defending one’s point of view - with all due respect - a common ground and mediation spaces can be found, even among seemingly irreconcilable positions. Hence, debate contributes to develop a more inclusive society in which different points of view can live together.

Those who experiment debate will develop soft skills and competences of active citizenship that are increasingly crucial in public life, such as critical thinking, public speaking, teamwork, ability to argue, creativity, fair play, logic, respect for the rules, cultural awareness.


the dialectical clash through a metaphor: the chess game.

The Socratic method and the fundamental skills achievable with it.

Maieutic strength and Parrhesia: a personal dimension of truth.

The Socratic debate as a key tool to forge an active, honest, and responsible citizenship.

A proposal to disseminate Socratic debate in universities.


Cavalla, F. (2008). Retorica processo verità. Milano: FrancoAngeli.

Ferrari, F. (Ed.) (2013). Teeteto. Milano: Bur.

Foucault, M. (2019). Discourse and truth and parresia. Chicago Foucault Project.

Nelson, L. (1949). Socratic method and critical philosophy. Yale University Press.

Sommaggio, P. (2012). Contraddittorio Giudizio Mediazione. La danza del demone mediano. Milano: FrancoAngeli.

Sommaggio, P., & Tamanini, C. (Eds.) (2020). A suon di parole: il gioco del contraddittorio: Il format trentino del dibattito per l’innovazione della didattica. Milano: Mimesis.



1University of Siena, Italy; 2University of Siena, Italy; 3University of Siena, Italy

How to support the development of creative skills through the use of iconic artifacts? How to apply image-based methodologies in university teaching practice? Starting from those questions, the article presents an exploratory study conducted in the academic year 2019-2020 with 138 students enrolled in the first and second year of the Educational Science Bachelor’s Degree. The aim is to explore the potential outcomes of the adoption of digital storytelling for the development of professional identity of future educators. The analysis of the digital storytelling produced by students involved in the study showed that those image-based methods, aligning narrative and imagination, are particularly useful to work on personal emotions and build reflective individual and collective processes.


Mario Giampaolo, Nicolina Bosco, Alessandra Romano

University of Siena, Italy

In this paper we describe the design and the practice of the workshops conducted in the project “Super “Orientation and tutoring to promote university and professional success”. The aim of the project is to support the construction of professional prefigurations in school and university students. The project, coordinated by the University of Siena, leader of a network of 14 state universities, involves 116 schools, 55 companies and 46 organizations operating in the national territory. It is addressed to high schools (4th and 5th year) and university students and engages school and university teachers with a tutoring function. One of the actions of the project was to realize workshops that increase the level of mutual knowledge and integration among educational systems and the labour market. In these workshops, students/teachers of high schools and universities and the representatives of the labour market are considered as a community where practical knowledge is connected with the theoretical and the understanding of professional practices may deconstruct some stereotypes related to the professions.


Noelia Pérez-Rodríguez1, Nicolás de-Alba-Fernández2, Elisa Navarro-Medina3

1University of Seville, Spain; 2University of Seville, Spain; 3University of Seville, Spain

This study presents an investigation with university teachers in training. It analyzes the training itineraries followed by 44 teachers in terms of the introduction of citizenship education contents. The approach taken in the course seeks to achieve a model of citizenship education that is critical, participatory and committed to social transformation, through the treatment of relevant social problems. To this end, the usual practice of teachers is analyzed through a questionnaire that analyzes questions about their teaching practice (pre instrument) and a final public report (post instrument) that refers to the design, implementation and evaluation of the innovation developed in the training course. The study allows us to affirm that teachers, after participating in the training, advance in their training itinerary towards the introduction of citizenship education contents, although from a more professional than social perspective. Therefore, further research is needed to identify the obstacles that hinder the integration of this model in university teaching practice, in order to implement changes that will have an impact on them.


Noemi Russo

Università degli Studi del Molise, Italia

The motivation behind the project starts from the desire to spread the teaching methodology of Debate in the Italian academic context, because this is mainly used in secondary schools. Through the experiences put into practice and the reference literature it is possible to affirm that the Debate methodology allows the acquisition of transversal life skills which are fundamental for lifelong learning. In today’s society and in the current university context, critical thinking needs to be developed and increased, representing a necessity and a social emergency that the schools and academic communities have to consider. The Debate is a didactic methodology that involves, through the practice of dialogic comparison between conflicting parties, the analysis of a topic with the aim of analyzing factors in favor and against factors. This allows students who use it to increase a greater open-mindedness towards positions opposite to their own, to place themselves in a critical relationship towards a topic that must be analyzed in all its characteristics and, above all, to improve listening skills. Another important factor that can be promulgated through practice to debate is the ability to search for reliable sources, then search for information both on paper and digital. Through the training, student also come to understand the difference between real news (considered an “evidence”) and fake news. The Debate, therefore, allows the formation of competent citizens capable of making choices in everyday life, citizens skilled in discriminating what is good from what is bad, citizens open to dialogue and to confrontation with different cultures and different life experiences. A debate laboratory was carried out during the economic and financial education course for primary education science students at the University of Molise, in the academic year 2019/2020 and in the current 2020/2021. The project aims to use the Debate methodology in university lessons, with the aim of reverse the perspective and promoting this teaching practice with future teachers who will then be able to use it in the classroom with their students. Through action research it was possible to observe and identify Debate as a didactic practice and teaching method that can also be used in university learning contexts; the students who attended the course were able to learn the disciplinary knowledge, but they were also able to acquire all the fundamental skills that can be developed through Debate training.