Detailed Program of the Conference

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Overall view of the program
Parallel session - E.7 University Third Mission and the Local Environment
Wednesday, 02/June/2021:
5:45pm - 8:00pm

Session Chair: Roberto Moscati
Session Chair: Stefano Boffo
Location: Room 6

Session Panels:
E.7. University Third Mission and the Local Environment

External Resource:


Monia Anzivino

Università degli Studi di Torino, Italia

The extent of some changes that have occurred over the last years, as well as the social and political consequences of these changes, has led to the emergence of new needs related to expert knowledge, scientific culture and public trust, calling for new attention regarding the implications of the ties between science and society. The concern of the diffusion of scientific culture within society calls into question the role of university and, in particular, the commitment of academics in science communication activities towards different audiences. Scientists are called upon in first person to engage with society, interact and facilitate the relationship between the scientific world and the world of non-experts. In this context, the importance of the university’s third mission has developed as a critical dimension in university activities, and particularly the relevance of public engagement (PE) of academics. Indeed, among the third mission’s dimensions (Schoen and Theves, 2006), PE has perhaps been the one to produce the most reflection, evolving over time and varying its definitions and activities included (Burchell, 2015).

This study focuses on the PE activities of Italian academics, specifically on the participation of women scientists in these activities, since the relationship between gender and PE in the literature is unclear. What is the involvement of women in these activities? Is it different in terms of quantity and quality from that of men? In which disciplines the gender gap, if any, is stronger? How do attitudes towards the university's role in society impact on PE of men and women? These issues are relevant for at least two reasons. Given the importance of engagement with society, participation in these activities could be, in the near future, evaluated as one of the criteria for academic career prospects, thus representing an issue that may reduce or intensify existing inequalities for women, still relevant as substantiated by European Commission (2019). Furthermore, greater involvement of women in PE activities could contribute to feminize the image of science and to bring different role models for girls and increase over time the likelihood of choosing a scientific course of study, decreasing gender segregation in these fields.

Using survey data from a national sample of Italian academics from all disciplines (N=5123), we find that men and women are equally engaged in community-based activities, but women are less engaged in communication activities through mass media. Moreover, the gender gap in the last group of activities is stronger in those disciplines where academics are more frequently engaged, Health Sciences among STEM disciplines and Social Sciences among SSH. These results suggest a different analytical approach for investigating gender differences in PE and indicate which disciplinary fields need more incisive policies for promoting women as experts.


Burchell K (2015) Factors Affecting Public Engagement by Researchers: Literature Review. London: Policy Studies Institute.

European Commission (2019) She Figures Handbook 2018. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Schoen, A and Theves, J (Eds.) (2006) Strategic management of university research activities. Methodological guide. Lugano: PRIME Project Observatory of the European University.


Valentina Carazzolo

Sapienza University- National Research Council- IRCRES, Italy

European higher education system has been experiencing a renewal process due to the increasing importance attributed to universities in fostering social cohesion and economic growth (Martin, 2011) in order to make European universities more competitive (Enders et al, 2011) and to gradually meet Bologna principles (Hicks, 2012). Moreover, according to some authors, since the last two decades the academia is experiencing also a rearrangement in the relationships with external stakeholders and the central government (Gibbons et al, 1994), thus leading towards a more socially distributed knowledge production system (the so-called “Mode 2”, or New Knowledge Production) and a research agenda more oriented towards societal needs. Hence, even though the empirical validity of Mode 2 is still debated (Hessels, Van Lente, 2015, Knuuttila, 2013), the New Knowledge Production model sheds light on the new relevance of external stakeholders in drafting and managing researchers’ research agenda setting.
Therefore, the aim of the present abstract is to focus on external stakeholders’ role in influencing academics’ activities and researchers’ agenda setting, with a view to reflect on external stakeholders’ role in ensuring academic quality.
According to Henkel (2005), academics are experiencing a reshaping process of their autonomy, as they have to deal with a series of multiple relationships both at micro and macro level, as for the increasing role played by research councils.

Moreover, according to the studies conducted by Leysite et al. (2008) and Luukkonen and Thomas (2016), researchers have been experiencing an increasing necessity to negotiate their research agenda setting process with external stakeholders. Interestingly, while Leysite et al. stress the flipside of stakeholders’ influence, that is, a relative reduced freedom when it comes to choose the topics to study, Luukkonen and Thomas emphasize the opportunities of a negotiation between researchers and stakeholders, with the former generally being able to find a compromise between their preferences and external actors’ inputs.


Amir Limana1, Rosa Barbosa2


Faced with a Brazilian national education system immersed in the meritocratic paradigm, in which institutions, teachers and students are mostly concerned with exams and approvals than with the effective apprehension of knowledge and how the construction of knowledge is enchanting. The question is: how to encourage the public debate about the entrance by lot in educational institutions? Questions about developmentalism and educational neoliberalism emerge and open up how much political culture and democracy need to be on the agenda of all and all actors in education systems.

Thus, the text that we present here, reports an experience of admission by public draw for a technical course, integrated to high school, at the Federal Institute, between 2015 and 2019 on the Astorga campus, a town in the interior of the state of Paraná. Like Ganuza (2021), we understand that via a lottery the institutional mechanism of power is given to citizens, which does not eliminate ideological struggles and conflicts, but it is a political alternative that differs in terms of collective decision-making. The report aims to discuss the experiences lived taking into account the opposition with other forms of entry, which are exclusive and less democratic.

Pacheco (2011) recalls that neoliberalism based on individualism and competitiveness submits the education systems to the norms of financial organizations, which causes a continuous vulnerability of the Brazilian economy and, consequently, investment in educational institutions. However, in 2008 with the creation of Federal Institutes nationwide by the Law 1.,892/08 there is a subversion of the neoliberal logic with a view to opposing commercialization in the educational field, with the promotion and opening up of possibilities for working class students to have access and manage to remain in a public, free and quality system.When implementing the campus in a town of 24,698 inhabitants, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE - original acronym), with a public draw for students to enter technical courses integrated into high school, political agents are committed to a democratic and popular policy that aims to expand the scope of educational actions.

In this way and with these arrangements, it was sought with the realization of public draws, to build autonomy of the unit, subsidized by the democratic participation of the whole community. This breaks the meritocratic logic that is the rule in Brazil and it is not fair to put people coming from the peripheries with a little or no opportunity and rich children from bourgeoisie with all the incentives and possibilities at their disposal, on the same starting line. In addition to this rupture, the public draw is inclusive, making the chances of each participant in the vacancy process statistically equitable. The case of the Federal Institute of Paraná (IFPR), in Astorga, in the interior of Brazil, reveals how much the subversion of meritocratic logic encourages discussions and highlights the emergence of more initiatives like this.


Concetta Fonzo1, Stefania Capogna2

1UOC - Universitat Oberta de Catalunya - Education and ICT, Spain; 2DiTES – Research center Digital Technologies, Education and Society - Università degli studi Link Campus, Italy

Evaluation and Quality Assurance (QA) are currently receiving a lot of attention due to their potential to boost and support the development and implementation of new policies by decision and policy makers (Rome Ministerial Communiqué, 2020). Several quality assurance mechanisms have been implemented and already exist in different sectors and fields, like in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). But, after the Covid-19 outbreak and a widespread use of distance learning and teaching, despite a general familiarity and confidentiality with the use of quality assurance systems and procedures, the higher education sector started to rethink tertiary education and its quality from different points of view. Besides, the digital revolution will produce a powerful impact in countless areas and quality assurance cannot exempt itself from this evolutionary process. Therefore, the European standards and frameworks for quality assurance, as well as the external and internal quality assurance processes in place, need to be applied with attention to a new context. Looking into the state of the art among European QA frameworks, in an era of considerable change in the status, significance and management of higher education, the authors present a critical refection about the current trends in quality assurance mechanisms in Europe, including national evaluation systems and procedures. The methodological approach used combined a comparative analysis of international policies and strategies related to quality assurance in higher education and other educational sectors, with a critical review of the “Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area”, the so-called ESG, drafted by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and adopted in 2015. The results of the review and analysis allowed to identify comparable criteria and methodologies, providing a reference point for further adaptations and implementations by different actors of the EHEA and for stakeholders active in formulating policy inputs to other European initiatives in the area of QA. Moreover, since international and national activities and outcomes related to quality assurance in higher education will have a significant impact on lifelong learning and on other sectors, such as economy, labour marked, public administration and active digital citizenship, and provided that quality in tertiary education - together with other key areas such as university autonomy - is one of the most important and strategic issues for the enhancement of the EHEA, the final outcomes of the critical refection will allow the development of an effective “quality culture” in the pandemic and post-pandemic period, too.


Alessio Ceccherelli1, Donatella Capaldi2

1University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy; 2University of Roma La Sapienza, Italy

The International University system has been long engaged in indicating the Third Mission’s activities and relating them to research and teaching. In Italy, the initial focus was on university-enterprise links, then shifted to continuing education. Recently, attention has further been addressed to the territorial dimension.

The concept of 'territory' has been the subject of an intensive theoretical in recent years. Alberto Magnaghi launched an important international movement ("territorialism") asking UNESCO in 2012 to review the Cultural Heritage definition in the light of territory. Renzo Piano has intervened several times to support the actions of "mending" devastated and degraded urban territories towards new coexistence forms. Richard Sennett has dedicated his latest reflections to the connection between the built territory and the "dwelling" ("ville" and "cité"), a fundamental relationship on a social but also on an ethical level. This turning point coincides with the full network society affirmation, which has significantly been transforming territories over the last twenty years. The reasons for this transformation lie in the production methods’ change, the virtualisation of culture, and the identities’ restructuring: while physical places become 'translocations' and network nodes, the inhabitants are exposed to often violent glocal dynamics in work and daily life.

On the other hand, the increasing interest in the territorial dimension (development trends, transformation processes, decay) has been encouraged by a policy in the territorial network’s creation, promoting the efficient use of development levers (public and private investment, citizen participation, skills improvement etc.). These initiatives should concern the most backward areas, for connecting them to the infrastructures and dynamics of the network society; but, also, the more advanced urban areas subject to degradation, to ensure governability, care and involvement of stakeholders and citizens.

Universities are potentially decisive players in the innovation transfer, the training of skills, but also in the definition of policies themselves. In this frame, the development of Third mission initiatives can be better oriented. In particular, three sectors of activities should be considered, in which promising opportunities and experiences are identifiable: 1) the enhancement of territories as networks (Tangible and Intangible Heritage); 2) the continuous training of human resources in stable and organised territorial networks involving educational institutions, enterprises and other stakeholders (from ITS to ContaminationLabs), with which to co-design the offer; 3) the development of the Third sector, as an interlocutor, recipient and at the same time partner of initiatives aimed at social welfare. But to what extent may these dynamics be favoured by the current ANVUR evaluation system?


S. Boffo - R. Moscati (2015). La Terza Missione dell’Università. Origini, problemi e indicatori. Scuola Democratica, n. 2, p. 251-272.

L. Compagnuccia, F. Spigarelli (2020). The Third Mission of the university: A systematic literature review on potentials and constraints. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 161, December 2020, p. 1-30.

A. Magnaghi (2020). Il principio territoriale. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri

S. Reichert (2019). The Role of Universities in Regional Innovation Ecosystems. Bruxelles: European University Association