[Such] diverse and pressing questions, no longer confined to the specialists, animate the common debate: they demand new answers, more adequate to the plural profile of today’s society.
These urgent demands have prompted the Studium Generale Marcianum (www.marcianum.it ) (the paedagogic-academic institution of the Patriarchate of Venice founded in 2004 for the promotion of unity in knowledge) to create a new academic proposal: ASSET, a postgraduate School for Advanced Studies, officially launched by an international conference held in the Water City on 15-17 September on the subject of “Plural Society”.
ASSET, the acronym for “Alta Scuola Società Economia Teologia” (School for Advanced Studies Society Economics Theology), presents itself as a new resource (asset) to understand today’s plural society starting from the study of, and research on, philosophy, theology, law, economics and the social sciences. ASSET’s offer is flexible and articulated in a variety of activities, such as seminars, workshops, a Summer School, etc., which effectively allow anyone interested to either follow the complete academic year or adhere to individual projects(1) compatibly with other professional activities.
This new initiative, based in Venice but open to the world, is in fact directed to two different categories of people: its research activities, on the one hand, are addressed to PhD students, research-award winners and lecturers; its postgraduate training, on the other, is offered to people in the associative world, ONG staff, public officers and MEPs. In both cases, the angle and method are the same: to make the different disciplines interact, forcing them into reciprocal and rigorous comparisons in terms of contents as well as method. Economics, for instance, will be addressed by questions investigated by philosophy; theology and the Church’s social doctrine will participate in the common debate, in open dialogue with subjects and research methods belonging to different disciplines.
ASSET avails itself of the experience gathered through a 3-year research project (entitled Man, Polis, Economy) involving a group of young researchers, graduate and postgraduate, aged 25 to 35, in an interdisciplinary study of philosophy, bioethics, economics and Church heritage(2). This experience is now translated into a permanent offer thanks to an international network of eminent lecturers, such as Robert Spaemann of Munich University, Margaret Archer of Warwick University, Angelika Nussberger of Cologne University, to mention but a few.
The School for Advanced Studies is made possible by the financial support of the Fondazione di Venezia. The calendar of its first academic year features, in particular: a research workshop with the members of the International Scientific Committee; a cycle of workshops animated by groups of researchers who, led by a senior lecturer, will carry out a research project followed by both theoretical and practical results (including the publication of books and articles); twelve postgraduate seminars open to the public; three interdisciplinary research workshops calling for the participation of lecturers and researchers from different areas of learning; a Summer School, starting in September 2010, to summarize, together with Robert Spaemann’s conference next Autumn, the research and training activities carried out during the year.
The calendar, the program and other data can be found on: www.marcianum.it
* The Roman Observer 16 September 2009