26 April – Today, Consulus announced the launch of a new leadership program in partnership with Sophia University Institute from Italy and supported by the Global Leaders for Unity Fund, established by the Sagamore Institute from the U.S. The Columnist asks Dr. Paolo Frizzi, the Head of the Global Studies Center at Sophia University and the Regional Director for Consulus Europe and Americas on his thoughts about the role that Sophia serves in shaping leaders of unity.
Dr. Paolo Frizzi, why is Sophia University suitable for a course like Global Leaders for Unity Executive Course (GLUEC)?
Since the beginning of its journey as a university, Sophia University Institute established itself as an international, intercultural and trans-disciplinary institution, an academic laboratory for training, research and networking on concepts and categories such as unity, communion, fraternity, peace and dialogue.
Sophia’s overall academic culture and methodology put “unity” in the centre through: trans-disciplinary collaborations among disciplines; engagement and dialogue among different socio-cultural contexts; connective and relational formation programs where contributions from grassroots experience and civil society are welcomed. So such a course in partnership with a business consultancy that is also inspired by the idea of unity is a good fit.
Can you tell us more about the academic environment, how is the approach at Sophia different from other universities?
Sophia’s programs are designed in a way that it enhances relational approaches among disciplines, faculty and students. It means that departments and courses of study and training are designed to facilitate collaborative studies and frameworks to be developed and shared.
At Sophia, unity has been taken seriously up to the point that next to more traditional courses of studies like economics and management, theology and philosophy, political studies and international relations. An interdepartmental area called Culture of Unity has been designed in order to experiment and test the collaborative environment both in formation and research, both within the university and towards the civil society.
Regarding this last point, such collaborative environment is extended to community-based stakeholders. As we know, the collaboration between stakeholder and university is more and more essential nowadays as well as the engagement of the very communities affected by research and training activities.
Many people have a misunderstanding about the idea of unity, it is about being aligned or uniform? And how does Sophia present the idea of unity?
The key words here are unity and integration as opposed to uniformity and assimilation. As explained by many leaders since the last century, multi-cultural, multi-faceted and diversified societies can reconcile identity with diversity only if they do not confuse unity with uniformity or assimilation. What we can learn from the past is that in order to avoid further fragmentation, countries and organizations need to open spaces for identities to express themselves within a framework that allows a proper integration of diversities.
Since its launch, Sophia did attract students and partnerships from different continents in a way that many cultures and diversities are represented in the campus. The collaborative and relational dynamics around which university programs are built do encourage faculty members, students and partners to bring in the specific and unique background each of them embodies.
These dynamics open a space for each identity to come out from its comfort zone and be exposed to the world complexities. From this point of view, where everyone can look back to her or his experience from a broader perspective, to experience unity means to practice a relational approach where uniformity and assimilation make way for collaboration and integration.
As someone who has been involved in this development for one year, how do you see the value of this partnership between Sophia and Consulus?
If unity is a contested value and practice on local and global levels – at the point that many observers are more and more keen on using terms like disruption, fragmentation and disintegration in order to portray the phase of history we are living in – then we need to put additional efforts in making unity more practical and realistic. Up to the point that even if it can seem paradoxical, the very complexities and divisions of today’s world demand more integrated and unified perspectives and experiences.
The partnership between Sophia, Consulus and Sagamore Institute for the development of a global program for leaders of unity, is there precisely to answer this need in the most effective and fruitful way, showing how applicable models and methodologies are advancing unity as a connective and transformative reality and inviting many other leaders and organizations to practice it through courses, programs, collaborations and frameworks.
To learn more about the two courses that Consulus is conducting in partnership with Sophia University Institute, please click on the two links below: Personal Leadership Development: Global Leaders for Unity Executive Course Team Leadership Development: Alchemy Leadership Program