Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Facoltà di Scienze politiche e sociali

Thursday 19 March

Dear Students,

in offering you a warm greeting, after some time that I am not writing to you, I feel like telling you that "I come with counsel and tidings, in this dark hour ".
The hour is in fact, metaphorically, dark, even if the sun shines as I write to you in Milan. The dramatic news about the number of deaths and the spread of contagion are worrying and scaring us. But the certainty of a destiny of good, already recalled in my previous message, give us strength. While knowing that we cannot change, if not in small part, the situation we are living in, building on this hope we know we can decide how to live to the fullest. Also considering difficulties and sufferings, and making these days, as the Archbishop said in his Sunday's Homily, "the days of the great freedom". And, I also add, the days of responsible choices, in some cases courageous choices, certainly aware, that what depends on us deserves our full commitment.

For our side, all the colleagues and the University staff, we are making every effort to continue the academic year in an effective way.

In these days you are watching your lecturers being filmed by a video camera, most of the time in their domestic intimacy, with audio headphones and microphone. I think you can imagine what it is to speak to a computer screen, with the doubt of being the victim of a personality dissociation disorder; perhaps trying to glimpse some student's face inside or behind the screen; or with the fear of losing the recording for a sudden connection problem, in these days in which everyone heavily rely on the internet for any need.

My fellow lecturers and colleagues sometimes report to me about the problems they encounter, their fears of producing a not entirely satisfacing result. Above all, many are sad that they cannot meet you in person. In all of them I see a passion that really comforts me. These dark hours will pass. And in the meantime we are all here working to give you our best.

In the last week, the first in which we had planned online activities, the teachers of the School of Political and Social Sciences produced around 600 recorded lectures on Blackboard, a few dozen live sessions when needed, and many other teaching materials of various kind.

With the Coordinators of the different courses we are constantly monitoring the situation and, with very few exceptions related to special and emergency circumstances, everything is proceeding. Of course, not everything always goes well; there are problems. But, overall, the effort seems to pay off. The feedbacks we received, from you students, are mostly positive.

I come now to some specific news and updates:

  1. Regarding the recovery of the lessons and the exams, I confirm what I wrote to you last week: the recovery is currently taking place with recorded video lectures and will also use, if the situation permits, two weeks in attendance in May, at the end of the semester. The exams schedule and calendar is as for now confirmed;
  2. the final exams of the April session are confirmed with the timetable and procedures already communicated; for the period of suspension of the didactic activity in presence, the sessions will be held with remote connection of the candidates (the interested parties will receive specific communication from the Student Center, instructions for using the electronic tools are available at this link: https://studenticattolica.unicatt.it/studenti-corsi-e-carriera-esami-di-profitto/studenti-Presentazione%20TEAMS_eng.pdf). After the extension already communicated of the deadline for submission for the under-graduate courses, the only news concerns, at the moment, the Graduate Courses, whose deadline for the submission of the thesis has been postponed to the 14th of April, while the sub-mission itself will be carried over in digital format on the Blackboard platform.
    Together with the Study Program Coordinators, we are monitoring the situation of the graduating students and we can reassure everyone that, keeping the fact that the conclusion of the study programme by the scheduled dates remains the preferable solution for all, any delays specifically attributable to the current situation will in no way impose any further burden on the students involved;
  3. as far as stages and internships currently in progress or scheduled for the next months, are concerned, together with the Study Program Coordinators we have developed general Faculty Guidelines which you can find in this page.

Finally, I come to counsel. This particular period can be an opportunity for growth for you, as it is also for us, if you know how to live it as protagonists, both in performing your own tasks, and being attentive interlocutors for us lecturers:

  1. try to make the most of all the opportunities for studying and working that we offer you. For the imperfect tools we are currently using to bear fruit, we need your help. As far as possible, follow the video-recorded lecture as soon they are uploaded to Blackboard by the lecturers, devote yourself to personal study-work (exercises, papers, reports) assigned to you, study individually on the bibliographic materials available to you, discuss, where possible, through electronic tools with your classmates;
  2. never fail to send us messages on what is not working and, hopefully, on what it is. In this period we do not have your faces to look at, to identify signs of doubt or approval. Let your emails or comments on the forums compensate as far as possible for this unbridgeable lack;
  3. finally, I recommend that you always follow the news updates on the University Homepage and on the School website.

Hoping to be able to meet you soon and reminding you that my (electronic) door is always open, if you have any issue to report, I extend my warmest greeting to you all

Guido Merzoni
Dean of the School of Political and Social Sciences

Tuesday 10 March

Dear students,

as you know, the suspension of F2F in presence didactic activity has been extended until April 3 within more general measures taken by the Government Authorities to contain the spread of the virus.
First of all, I want to add my voice in urging responsible behavior by everyone to help contain the spread of the virus. It is a battle that each of us can contribute to win, with civic sense and a spirit of solidarity, especially towards the weaker sections of the population, doing their part for the pursuit of the common good. I am sure you are already doing it and you will continue to do so.

I spoke at length on Friday afternoon through videoconference with the representant students in the Faculty Council. They told me that many of you are concerned about the situation. I assure you that everyone, academic authorities, teachers, managers and technical and administrative staff, are working really hard so to minimize, despite the seriousness of the situation, the impact on the orderly development of academic activity

Here are some updated indications on the activities for the upcoming weeks.
1. As for the recovery of lectures, the plan we are implementing includes:

  • videorecorded lectures made available to students on Blackboard, usually in deferred streaming through the Collaborate Ultra tool available on the platform (no need to download any further app), for all the period of suspension starting from this week;
  • a recovery of two weeks of lectures in attendance from May 11th to 22th which, as the length of the period covered by on-line lecturing becomes significant - will allow to keep a significant number of F2F lectures which are enriched by the added value of classroom interactions.

As always, and even more so throughout this period of suspension of F2F lectures, it is essential that the teaching provided by lecturers is accompanied by your individual study and by on-line interactions with your fellow students.

2. As far as exams are concerned, at the moment (and for all the scenarios currently considered probable for the evolution of the health emergency) we can confirm the calendar already communicated, with possible slight adjustments concerning for partial tests and “pre-appelli” when needed.

3. The following is foreseen for the graduation exams of the April session.

Bachelor's degrees
MILAN CAMPUS: As far as three-year B.Sc. study courses (Laurea Triennale) are concerned whose final exams for the Laurea Degree are scheduled during the period of suspension of the teaching activity, April 1st-2nd, the exams will be held on-line, with video connection, following the prescriptions of the civil Authorities. Specific indications will be provided to students involved. I have already extended the deadline for delivering your final essay to March the 29th.
The graduation official announcement will take place immediately after the conclusion of the exam.
BRESCIA CAMPUS: As far as three-year B.Sc. study courses (Laurea Triennale) are concerned whose final exams for the Laurea Degree are scheduled on April the 7th, exams will be held in presence in a class in which the sole candidate student and the members of the evaluating committee will be allowed.
In both Milan and Brescia campus the graduation official announcement will take place immediately after the conclusion of the exam. Unfortunately, we are obliged to suspend the graduation ceremony. When possible, once the emergency is over, we will schedule a graduation party.
Master degree
Master's degree exams of the Milan office scheduled from April the 20th to 22nd are currently confirmed. The modalities will depend on the provisions of the Authorities for that period. Specific indications will be provided to individual students involved.

Please do not hesitate to contact your teachers and send me all info and requests you deem needed and appropriate.
I renew to you all the warmest greetings also on behalf of my colleagues.
Guido Merzoni
Dean of the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences

Thursday 5 March

Dearest students of the School of Political and Social Sciences,

As you already know from the communications of the civil authorities and of the Magnificent Rector, the suspension of lectures has been extended for another week. For this reason the recovery of face-to-face academic activity (lectures, classes etc) is postponed to March 16th (given the official guidelines currently available).

While we still believe that face-to-face teaching, which allows direct and complete interactions between teachers and students, is to be preferred, starting from next week recorded lectures for remote learning will be delivered.

For the moment, in the hypothesis of resuming lectures in class on March the 16th with the recovery of the 2 weeks “lost” in the recoup period (from May the 11th to the 23rd) recorded on-line lectures will cover only one week of lectures.

However, when lecture will be resumed F2F in class, they will also be recorded, for a first period, to allow all students who cannot yet be present, to “electronically attend” lectures, despite all the limits imposed by such a technology.

In summary: Lectures originally scheduled from February the 24th to the 28th will be recorded by each lecturer and progressively made available on the Blackboard platform, starting next week. Recorded lectures will be available, for a limited period, in “deferred streaming”.

The interaction channels between teachers and students (via email, forum on Blackboard or other tools) will be defined and communicate by each teacher.

Each recorded lecture may be shorter than the canonical 45 minutes, since different context requires different timing.

I therefore invite you all to enroll in the Blackboard platform for the relevant courses and to constantly monitor your institutional I-catt email address for communications from me, the coordinators and your lecturers.

A warm greeting to you all also on behalf of the all lecturers.

We miss you.

Looking forward to meeting you again in persons at our University.

Guido Merzoni
Dean of the School of Political and Social Sciences

Tuesday 4 March

Dear students of the School of Political and Social Sciences,

as you may already know from the communications of the Magnificent Rector, following the decisions of the authorities regarding the evolution of the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19, all the teaching activities are suspended also for this week, until Saturday March the 7th, but hopefully they can be resumed next Monday, March the  9th.

The entire academic community of the Università Cattolica, from the Rector, to the Deans, the teachers and the technical and administrative staff, took immediate actions to monitor the situation and find the most appropriate, fair and effective solutions to address the related problems. From the outset, it was decided that communication to students during the emergency ought to be managed directly by the Rector, also to reduce delays in the dissemination of information. Now that we are heading towards the desirable recovery of ordinary activity, I turn to you as Dean of the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences in agreement with the Coordinators of the Degree Programs.

First of all, I would like to underline how this ongoing period of crisis and alarm, particularly harsh for some of you – and especially for those among you who have been directly touched in their families and/or friends or live in the areas most directly affected by the spread of the virus to whom I express the solidarity of the Faculty -  is an occasion for reflecting on the value of relationships and on the meaning of life. As the Archbishop told us in the homily of the Holy Mass in the Cathedral on Sunday, this is above all a "favorable time to be united and to become wise".

The Faculty is convinced that its educational task does not end in transmitting information, knowledge and skills, but aims at the integral education of the person. For both aims, the traditional teaching methods in presence are, when possible, always to be preferred. For this reason, the recovery, replacement and supplementary activities will try to deviate as little as possible from this model. Therefore, from Monday March the 9th – in the absence of different and new provisions by the civil and health authorities, committed to ensuring the safety of the activities in progress – lectures and classes will be normally resumed in the classrooms of the University.

Recovery of suspended lessons

Given the currently most probable scenario, with the start of didactic activities scheduled for next Monday, the recoup of suspended lectures can be managed by the School of Political and Social Science by re-scheduling face-to-face lectures in 2 out of 3 weeks foreseen by the academic calendar as catch-up lectures periods, between May the 11th and the 23rd, before the beginning of the summer exam session, scheduled for June the 3rd. For the same purpose, the first three days (April 6th,7th, 8th) of the Holy Week (i.e. the week leading to Easter) and the last three of the subsequent week (April 15th, 16th, 17th), now scheduled as holidays, may also be used to catch up lectures.

All the above will allow us to keep unchanged the academic calendar of the exams for the summer session, and, hopefully, will allow lecturers to keep the ordinary scheduling of partial exams and “pre-appelli”. Only in special cases, we may be forced to schedule partial exam on the first exam date (primo appello) of the summer session.

Activities during the suspension period

During the period of suspension of the lectures, lecturers’ communication and the publication of supplementary teaching materials will be conveyed, as it is already being done, through the Blackboard platform. In case you are not yet enrolled on Blackboard to any relevant courses, please do it as soon as possible.

Foreign students of the IRGA curriculum and residents in "red areas"

A significant number of foreign students, enrolled in IRGA, returned to their countries of residence and they are unable to return to Milano in the near future. We also have students living in the so called “red areas”, who also will not be able to be present in the classroom when lectures will be resumed. To reach both categories of students the School will use digital remote teaching tools (such as: video recordings of lessons, commented slides or other material) to let them be part of the academic activities.

Finally, I would like to reassure you that the University's decision-making bodies, starting from the Rector and the Academic Senate, the Study Program Coordinators, all the teachers and technical and administrative staff are committed to finding suitable solutions to cope with any scenario that may arise in the coming weeks and to ensure the smooth running of all teaching activities, lectures, exams, graduation exams, with modes compatible with the emerging situation.

Grateful for the trust that you will continue to place in the University and the School, I warmly greet you, and wish to all and every one of you a good job.

Guido Merzoni
Dean of the School of Political and Social Sciences