Detailed Program of the Conference

Parallel sessions - E.14 The New Challenges Of The Post-Pandemic University Formative Processes, Third Mission And Active Citizenship
Wednesday, 02/June/2021:
9:30am - 11:45am

Session Chair: Barbara Mazza
Session Chair: Elena Valentini
Location: Room 2

Session Panels:
E.14. The New Challenges of the Post-Pandemic University Formative Processes, Third Mission and Active Citizenship

External Resource:


Barbara Mazza, Elena Valentini

Sapienza, Italy

The university system is increasingly committed to developing a continuous and interdependent interaction with the labor market and civil society (Boffo, Moscati, 2015; Lazzeroni, Piccaluga, 2008; Laredo, 2007; Moretti, 2012). This implies the diversification of its missions which is recognized by different studies and models. The triple helix model (Etzkovitz, Leydesdorff, 2000) underlines the institutionalized cooperation between universities, business, and the state (Gherardini, 2015). The fourth and the quintuple helix models (Carayannis, Campbell, 2010) introduce other actors, the public and the natural social environment respectively.

Many studies and activities are carried out to promote the link between teaching and research on the one hand and research and the third mission, on the other, to favor the dissemination of knowledge outside. On the contrary, few studies - and therefore few actions - have been undertaken to link teaching and the third mission, until now mainly limited to placement initiatives.

The paper presents a study based on the role of didactic innovation to provide added value to promote the relationship with external actors, starting from a literature review on two main themes related to the helices models: the evolution of the concept of the third mission through phases characterized by a progressive formalization of practices that have already been part of the research and teaching activities in the past (Perulli, 2018, Semenza, 2018); the studies on didactics or third mission or digital education that explore the connection between the two missions, despite not having systematically investigated the relationship (Anzivino, Rostan, 2017, Braga, 2017; Corbo et. al., 2019; Parola, 2019; Rostan 2019).


The paper presents some results of a survey that involved about 300 teachers in 5 Italian mega-universities. Starting from the estimate of the commitment rates in innovative didactics and third mission, the study constructed an index aimed at measuring the intensity rate of the 5 helices in the mega-universities under study, as indicated by the models presented in the literature. The objectives are to verify the state of the art of the third mission and to understand how the adoption of teaching innovation encourages the third mission and the involvement of the stakeholders.


The survey shows that the Italian mega-universities under study are engaged in both didactic innovation and third mission, but they can better systematize their activities by activating the 5 helices and implementing the effectiveness of the models. In any case, the commitment of Italian universities is on the right track.

An expected result of this study is to offer a starting framework that can be monitored over time to verify the progress of a more organic and systemic process of change in the university system.


Boffo, S. and Moscati, R. (2015), «La terza missione dell’università. Origini, problemi e indicatori», Scuola Democratica, 2, 251-72.

Laredo, P. (2007), «Revisiting the Third Mission of Universities: Toward a Renewed Categorization of University Activities?», Higher Education Policy, 20 (4), 441-56.

Perulli, A., Ramella, F., Rostan, M. and Semenza, R. (Eds.) (2018), La terza missione degli accademici italiani, Bologna, Il Mulino.


Giovanni Brancato, Fabrizio Guerra

Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

The recent health emergency has faced contemporary society with new and growing cultural, social and economic challenges. It is against this background that the critical situation in the health sector and the subsequent intensification of the Covid-19 pandemic in the workplace of health professionals has become relevant. In particular, the healthcare environment can create stress and burnout syndromes due to several factors. Everyday work-related problems in their profession, the relationship with patients and taking care not only of treatment but also of the emotional impact that accompanies the experience of illness and pain, the management of “difficult” cases and certain pathologies, emergencies, work shifts and the working atmosphere, the relationship with colleagues, administrative problems and legal issues deeply involve health workers, not only as a manifestation of physical fatigue, but also psycho-emotional ones, resulting in high levels of stress and burnout (Rossati & Magro 1999; Baiocco 2004).
In this context, it’s crucial the role of training aimed at the acquisition of theoretical and practical skills useful to decongest in a timely and effective way all aspects of the healthcare profession that can lead to work-related stress and burnout syndrome. To do this, therefore, it is necessary to set up specialized training courses for all the health professions involved in caring for and working in the “front line”, in order to acquire the technical and professional knowledge and awareness needed to recognize fatigue and demotivation in critical situations. Furthermore, it’s crucial the role of universities as key players delegated to techno-scientific education in the field of health, and they can actively influence the functioning of society, making a further effort in the development of the Third Mission, as well as training and research (Boffo & Moscati 2015; Brancato 2020).
In the light of the above, the proposal aims to describe the project “Curare Curantes” carried out by the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry of the Sapienza University of Rome, focusing on the main features that make this experience a relevant case study able to provide further useful elements for redefining the relationship between the university and the external context in a post-pandemic scenario.


• Baiocco R. Il rischio psicosociale nelle professioni di aiuto: la sindrome del burnout negli operatori sociali, medici, infermieri, fisioterapisti, psicologi, psicoterapeuti e religiosi. Edizioni Erickson, Trento, 2004.
• Boffo S., Moscati R., «La Terza Missione dell’università. Origini, problemi e indicatori», Scuola democratica, Learning for Democracy 2 (2015): 251-272
• Brancato G., “La sfida sociale delle Facoltà mediche mediche nell’era della comunicazione (anche) digitale”, in Orsi M., Paura R. (a cura di), Between Science & Society. Scienza e società verso il 2030, pp. 85-93, Napoli: Italian Institute for the Future, ISBN: 9788899790189.
• Rossati A, Magro G. Stress e burnout. Carocci editore, Roma, 1999.


Cristina Sofia

Università La Sapienza, Italia

The third mission of the university corresponds to a varied set of activities and initiatives that characterize the academic life of the institutions (Boffo, Moscati, 2015). In fact, the pursuit of third mission initiatives has become of crucial importance for university structures, also due to the decrease in resources available to institutions.
It also includes a series of other initiatives of a socio-cultural and educational nature. We can refer to a wide range of initiatives that range from continuing education to job accompaniment, from the production and management of cultural heritage and archaeological excavations, from clinical trials to public engagement.
With the third mission is therefore also defined the social role of the University and its civic engagement, which is realized in a series of activities that concern consultation and dissemination of content, collaborations and partnerships (Vargiu, 2012).
The third mission therefore can also be understood as a form of social responsibility of the universities, or a form of social engagement or social dimension, precisely because it is believed that universities can actively contribute to the social, cultural and institutional development of a territory (Palumbo, 2019).
However, the third mission activities related to this field have taken on very particular connotations due to the sudden changes that have occurred as a result of the pandemic that has profoundly transformed educational contexts, territorial contexts, the labor market and the traditional routines of carrying out professional activities.

The present contribution, in line with other research experiences conducted both nationally (Rella, Rossotti, 2017; Albanese, 2021) and internationally (Briant, Crowther, 2020; Hora M. T., Vivona B., Chen Z., Thompson M., Brown R., 2020), aims to present an analysis of the ways in which internship relationships have been redefined as a result of the pandemic, taking into account both students' perspectives (perceptions of change due to the pandemic, evaluation of the ways in which work is carried out remotely, supervisor support) and the opinions of some stakeholders (host institutions that have had to redefine the ways in which traditional internships are carried out).
All this because it is believed that the idea that the university can play an important social function, provided it is able to initiate actions of stakeholder engagement, can be established.
The analysis follows a qualitative methodological framework and refers to the criteria adopted for the evaluation of the third mission (effectiveness of the actions implemented by universities within the local area of reference, comparison with national and international experiences, consultation with stakeholders involved in various ways).

Translated with (free version)


Lou Therese Brandner

Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

The cultural and creative industries (CCI) are a highly flexibilised and relational labour environment. They are often closed structures with overwhelming competition, not accessible to outsiders without referrals and recommendations. Universities are a key site for developing networks and gaining access to future clients. Higher education institutes increasingly encourage students to start networking during their attendance (Lee, 2013; McRobbie, 2002). Developing students’ networks and networking skills is thus an integral part of the third mission of specialised educational institutions such as art academies or acting schools.

Particularly for freelancers, the creation and maintenance of social capital in the Bourdieusian sense constitute a continuous task throughout their careers; their working practices in many ways are networking practices (Wittel, 2001). Bourdieu underlines that the different forms of capital are transferable. Freelancers need to acquaint themselves with the “right people” to enter valuable circles. This is facilitated by factors connected to human capital, such as educational institutes providing industry connections. Social capital helps to manifest the potential of collected human capital, communicating one’s acquired skills to relevant contacts.


This presentation is part of my PhD thesis research, which analyses digital and urban networking practices of creative freelancers with a qualitative focus. Particularly freelancers experience precarious working conditions as they depend to a great extent on social relationships to find employment opportunities and reduce risk. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted the growth of the creative sector and exposed its structural precarity, leaving a high number of creative workers jobless. To explore how creative freelancers create, utilise and maintain social capital, I conducted 31 interviews with freelancers in four neighbourhoods of Rome and Berlin.


Within my sample, respondents mention their school or university as an essential pool of social capital and starting point for their careers. Educational institutes can counterbalance a lack of existing social capital in one’s family and social circle; references and recommendations from teachers as well as creating networks with other students present a “starter capital” in the beginning of a freelance career. Without them, one is “starting from zero,” “coming from the outside.” Respondents whose education is not related to their chosen creative profession perceive networking as a significantly slower and more tedious process. They must work harder on their social networks but can, to an extent, substitute academic skills and networks by collecting social capital on their own in their chosen industry.

Education thus not only provides the academic qualifications facilitating entrance into the CCI (human capital), but also industry connections as the actual, effective entryway into the CCI (social capital). Particularly in a fragile post-pandemic creative economy, fostering connections between 1) students and external CCI professionals, 2) students and teachers as well as 3) among students thus presents an essential task for specialised educational institutions. Targeted didactic activities and a third-mission focus on the networking requirements of the CCI can thus be a strategy to respond to contemporary challenges.