Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Facoltà di Scienze politiche e sociali

Saturday, 30 May

Dear students,

I hope this mail finds you well.

As for me, as someone said after a long run, "I'm pretty tired". Maybe we all are. A day may come when we decide to go home and rest, but "it is not this day". Today we have to look forward to the exams, with the summer session starting on Wednesday, and then to the new academic year, after the summer.

Exams

We already had some anticipations with the partial examinations and “pre-appelli”: signals recorded so far are comforting, but administering and taking exams in the new online modalities is a challenge for everyone. We have to interact remotely, look at each other through pc camera, work without the comfort of the presence of friends, hoping that the raids of our pets or the intercom will not interfere with the exam. And we have to trust technological devices and applications, which sometimes do not work as they should. But this is a challenge that we face together: against all prejudices, we are all working, students and teachers, with the same goal.

I ask you to collaborate in this joint venture with your responsibility in studying, your correct behavior, your patience for delays that, sometimes, are not as short as we would like. For our part, we assure you all our commitment, dedication and seriousness to deserve your trust.

Next academic year

In the present weeks, we are working intensely on the School Plan for teaching for the next academic year. The uncertainty of the context that we are facing is great. We hope that it will soon be possible to return to ordinary teaching activity live and face-to-face, because we are convinced that the University is an experience of relationships, which are best lived by sharing the same place. However, you can be sure that, whatever the conditions we will face, probably with some limitations at least until the Christmas season, you will be endowed all the necessary and adequate instruments and tools to continue your university path smoothly. In compliance with the instructions of the authorities and guaranteeing safety, everything possible will be carried out on our University campus, but all lectures will also be accessible remotely on line so to allow distance learning.

A special thought goes to all non-resident students: make your plans for the next year choosing freely according to your personal preferences, knowing that whatever your choice (coming back to Milan or staying in your hometown), we will not leave you alone.

The University is equipping classrooms with "intelligent" cameras and all the technologies necessary to broadcast online what happens in the classrooms. The School Plan envisages using and enhancing all the technologies needed to ensure a greater interaction between students and teachers compared to what was possible in these past months of emergency, when we had to transfer all our teaching activities online all of the sudden.

My colleagues and I assure you all our commitment and passion, so that you can still experience the extraordinary adventure of the University, which we all love.

Good luck and a warm encouragement for the incoming exams session

Guido Merzoni

Dean of the School of Political and Social Science


 

Friday, 1 May

Dear students,

I hope this mail finds you well.

Yesterday, when I left my house to go to the University main building to ensure the regular operation of the Faculty Council, I saw a garden full of blooming azaleas. Despite the dark, for many people heartbreaking, deep dark of these weeks, I remembered that it is already spring. "Beauty will save the world," wrote Dostoevsky; but not only the beauty of Creation out there, which lives regardless of our forced seclusion. It is the beauty, which, by Grace, comes also from us, that will save the world. The commitment of these weeks will bear fruits. And looking back we will not remember the effort, but the good, in spite of everything.

While I am figuring you busy, in view of the conclusion of the courses, studying for partial tests and summer session exams, I would like to give you a few updates.

I confirm that both partial tests and exams will take place remotely and on-line.

The dates of the appeals, except for rare exceptions due to technical issues, remain those established and available in the personal pages of the teachers (https://docenti.unicatt.it/ppd2/en) in the “teaching” section for each course. The ordinary registration procedures for exams through i-Catt are also confirmed.

The exam mode prevailing in our School will be oral examination (about 2/3 as from statements I have collected from colleagues), also due to the transformation from written to oral for several exams. However there will also be written exams (about 1/3), mainly in the form of tests, administered on Blackboard.

In order to carry out the test for both exam modes, each of you must be able to use the Microsoft Teams platform (a guide is available at https://studenticattolica.unicatt.it/studenti-corsi-e-carriera-esami-di-profitto/studenti-esami-di-profitto-remote-exams), use a computer (Windows or Apple) endowed with an updated operating system and browser with a good internet connection and equipped with the minimum multimedia communication requirements: headphones or speakers with working microphone and webcam.

For written exams delivered through the Blackboard platform, it is also necessary, for the execution of the exams, to have compatible browsers: Firefox, Chrome or Safari (check the compatible versions at the following link: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Student/Getting_Started/Browser_Support).

Each individual teacher will inform his/her students about the specific modalities for his/her exams. In order to be reached by these communications, I renew my invitation for you to enroll to the courses of your interest on Blackboard, if you have not done it yet.

A final recommendation: given the particular complexity in the organization of the exam sessions delivered on-line, to avoid downtimes and delays, we ask you to register and keep the registration for the appeals only if you actually intend to take the exam on that date and to cancel registration asap in case you decide not to show up.

I sincerely hope to be able to meet you soon, renewing the invitation to persevere in the study and reminding you that my (electronic) door is always open, if you have any questions to report,

Best regards

Guido Merzoni


Thursday 9 April

Dear students,

I hope this letter finds you well.

Unfortunately, the health emergency and its consequences on the life of each of us and on the social organization continue causing some mild fatigues, for many, and some excruciating suffering, for a few.

I express, on behalf of everyone at UCSC, my closeness to those who are particularly affected by the epidemic, in health and in their jobs, personally or in the most loved ones and friends, ensuring as much as possible the support of the Faculty.

Despite everything, as the poet sings, "Tomorrow there'll be sunshine, and all this darkness past".

Following the invitation of Peter and his Successor, we can give "reason for the hope that is in us" in an extraordinarily founded way, looking at the Cross, as we do in these days, and to the Resurrection, which we will contemplate on Easter Sunday. As the Holy Father told us in his meditation of March the 27th, "The Lord asks us from his Cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us". It is therefore in the attention given to others, in the community sharing, a sign of the "already and not yet", that we find the strength to look at tomorrow’s sun from today’s darkness.

I thank everyone for the effort spent in these weeks: I thank students for the dedication to the study that I imagine you are experiencing, I thank colleagues and technical and administrative staff for all efforts to remotely propose the many activities originally designed to be administered in presence. We are online with all courses, a part from for some very rare and particular exceptions. And this result is also the fruit of the community we belong to.

Although we are starting to see some positive signals, we will have to continue with extraordinary measures and instruments for a little longer.

For these reasons, please find below some updates.

1. End of lectures

Classes are now suspended for the Easter holidays and will resume after Easter - as a rule, starting from April 20th – in the modalities already used in the past few weeks.

At the moment it is very likely that it will not be possible to resume any activity in presence even in the weeks of recap period. Therefore, in agreement with  Coordinators, we have decided to set the end of the lessons no later than May 16th (one week earlier than expected). The recovery of the missed lessons will therefore have to be slightly intensified (and for this reason, some teachers may possibly propose new lessons already from the second part of next week), but the recorded lecture mode should allow you to cope with it without any difficulties.

This will allow us to have 2 weeks partial exams or “pre-appelli”.

Should it be possible to resume some on-site activities by the first part of May, there will be an opportunity for some mixed-mode “question and answers” sessions, with most of the students remotely connected. But at the moment this seems very unlikely.

2. Partial tests / pre-appelli

Partial tests or pre-appelli already scheduled are confirmed, a part for a few exceptions that will be communicated directly by lecturers. Tests, both written and oral, will be most probably delivered on-line.

Information on dates and methods will be communicated to you by each lecturer as soon as possible.

3. Exams of the summer session

Our summer exam session begins on June 3rd and it is likely that, even for that date, the activity cannot be resumed in presence.

We are therefore planning for the online administration of exams for the summer session. For this reason in some cases the exams will be different from what initially announced (i.e. some written exams may become oral exams).

However, the original dates of exams (“appelli”) remain confirmed.

In general Microsoft Teams will be used for oral exams and Blackboard for written exams. All students have granted access to both apps. We suggest you to test in advance your Internet connection as well as, microphone and camera. Details will be released a.s.a.p.

4. Degree and master's degree exams

The April graduation session has already taken place with remote connection. Everything went smoothly and to everyone's satisfaction, albeit in an unusual modality. The University Communication has prepared a video, which you can access to get an idea both from the Faculty website https://milano.unicatt.it/facolta/scienzepolitichesociali?rdeLocaleAttr=it and on the main social networks (i.e.: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-g2lXUIk9s/).

The discussions of the master's degrees thesis are scheduled for April 20th-22nd in the online modality.

For the July graduation sessions, we do not know yet what methods will be used, but we can exclude as of now, except for some positive surprises, the proclamation ceremony for the three-year courses in the Aula Magna. When possible, we will organize a solemn graduation party for those willing to attend.

The deadline for filing the master’s thesis topic for the December session is postponed to May the 14th: by that deadline, students will have to file the topic in electronic format (obviously, after having agreed it with their supervisor), by filling the specific application form available on their I-catt page. Once the university re-opens, it will be considered whether the delivery of a paper copy will be required.

5. Access to bibliographic material

The issue particularly concerns students working at their final essays/thesis  for accessing to libraries and off-site students who left their textbooks in Milan on their way home. The situation is currently as follows:

a. Following the provisions of the Authorities Libraries must remain closed. The books can be ordered, and collected on reopening. It is possible to access a certain number of volumes in electronic format and possibly request the purchase of others. Many academic journals are instead available in digital format as always. The library staff is active (even if remotely) and you can contact them for advice on how to find the materials you need. Find information on the activities of libraries on the website https://biblioteche.unicatt.it/biblioteca/sbda-home?rdeLocaleAttr=en

b. EDUCatt's loan service with digital access to books (especially text books) has been enhanced. Here are the links to the pages of the site where all the information (unfortunately only in Italian) is available https://educatt.unicatt.it/educatt-2893.html and http://www.educatt.it/libri/hub/index.asp. Bear in mind that the Pandoracampus catalog allows you to use the contents of some publishing houses Carocci, De Agostini Scuola, Hoepli, Il Mulino and Wiley, using the @icatt address in the registration. For any need for clarification, you can forward your requests to libri@educatt.org or librario.dsu@educatt.it.

c. The return of books borrowed, for undergraduates unable to move from home due to a health emergency, may take place when the library is reopened.

Hoping to meet you soon, and renewing the invitation to persevere in the study, I remind you that my (electronic) door is always open for any questions or doubts, I greet you very cordially with a sincere wish for a Holy Easter of Resurrection.

Guido Merzoni

Dean of the School of Political and Social Sciences


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